American School of Dubai superintendent Dr Brent Mutsch is set to retire next week after five years at the helm of the not-for-profit American curriculum school.
Dr Mutsch joined the school in August 2012, two years after ASD moved to its current campus in Al Barsha, from the Jumeirah 1 campus it occupied for over 40 years.
Dr Mutsch began his teaching career in Des Moines, Iowa in the United States, before moving to Colorado, where he served as superintendent of a school district. In 1994, he and his family moved to Saudi Arabia as superintendent of Saudi Aramco Schools and the International Schools Group. He then made the move to Singapore to serve as superintendent at the Singapore American School, before moving to the UAE as superintendent of American School of Dubai in 2012.
Speaking to Education Journal Middle East, Dr Mutsch reflected on his arrival at the school. He said: "The school was in the throes of making a very significant change. We were at the Jumeirah campus for nearly four decades and our enrolment was capped at about 950 students. However, in the two year period between August 2010 and May 2012 since moving to the current campus, we went to from 950 to 1660 students. That's a growth of 710 students... about 70% growth.
When I joined ASD in August 2012, we realised that this wonderful, very intimate and close knit school community that had existed in Jumeirah for so many years now had all of a sudden found itself with a significant infusion of new families. Quite frankly, we had lost a little bit of our rhythm and our equilibrium; we were off balance. All of a sudden we went from everybody coming on the campus through one gate, literally, and seeing each other every morning, to now being on a campus that was much bigger, that accommodated a much larger student population, and had multiple points of entry, so you literally could come onto the campus and not see people. And people who had been at Jumeirah 1 for a long time struggled with the changed. The new families did not know any different they didn't have a context."
"One of the things I'm proud of and our leadership team is exceptionally proud of is we've worked hard in the ensuing years to recreate on a much larger campus that welcoming, invitational, strong sense of community that had for such a long period of time been core who were when we were in Jumeirah," Dr Mutsch added.
Today, ASD caters to just over 1800 students, with additional capacity due to be added by 2019 through a new middle school campus.
The school also celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2016/17 academic year.
Moving forward, ASD will be led by incoming superintendent Dr Paul Richards, who currently oversees the International Schools Group as superintendent, which serves 4500 students across seven schools in Saudi Arabia. At ISG, Dr Richards has led the 21st Century Learning Initiative across the not-for-profit schools, modernising the district in terms of classroom instruction, technology, operations, and communications.
Prior to ISG, Dr Richards has led high schools in London, Nantucket and Needham.
Reflecting on his career and Dr Mutsch said: "Overall, my time at ASD has been the highlight of my career. I've been blessed to work in what I think have been an amazing set of schools over an extended period of time. But the time spent here has been very special. I don't know if, in all candour, it's been made more special because it's the end, and as you get to the end you get a lot more reflective. They say that life is what passes you buy while you're planning. When you're in the throes of a career it's just moving on and you're probably focused day in and day out on the nature of the work and not thinking about the end of a career. You have a very different lens than when you come to a place when you say to yourself, as I did to the board here five years ago I will come for five years and I knew that that would be the end of my career and my tenure at ASD.
"In many ways it's been a very rewarding period of time I've been blessed to work with an amazing group of people. When you have the opportunity to surround yourself with people who are, first of all, better than you are, and secondly share a commitment to the mission, what you can accomplish is unlimited. This work has been meaningful, it's been purposeful, it's been satisfying, and rewarding and enriching. Those are the words I would use to describe the last five years. I'll shed a lot of tears before I leave, and yet there's no doubt in my mind that it's the right time to leave and hand the baton to Dr Paul Richards," he added.