KDSL Global interviews The GEMS Camp Founder Saki Milton

KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with Saki Milton, Founder of The GEMS Camp.  The GEMS Camp, launched in summer 2010 as a free 6-week Saturday camp, preparing urban girls in grades 7 through 9 to be well-rounded, confident, and ready for college and beyond.  Since its inception, The GEMS Camp has been instrumental in inspiring more than 200 girls in STEM studies and is hosted annually at The University of North Texas at Dallas.


What was your inspiration to work in STEM?

As a secondary mathematics classroom teacher, every year I saw 1-2 kids in each class who actually wanted to learn. They were focused, studious, hard-working, and hungry for a challenge. Unfortunately, with the challenges many teachers like myself face in an urban classroom, those students are typically the ones who end up getting shafted. Large classroom sizes, disrespect, and lack of resources are issues an urban teacher faces on a daily basis. I know I did. My heart broke every time I saw a girl who reminded me of myself as a student, but wasn’t getting the quality education that every child should receive because I was too busy dealing with classroom management or catching up those who were 1-2 grade levels behind. Going home every night knowing that I wanted to do more led me to action.

In 2010, I was teaching at an IB school. I was so moved by my students’ personal projects that I decided to explore my own summer project to give back to those students in my neighborhood. That’s when I started The GEMS Camp. I started The GEMS Camp for the girls who are ridiculed for being smart. Girls who do everything they’re supposed to do, but have to stay in their environments just because they don’t have anywhere else to go. I wanted to give them what was given to me – a quality learning experience that made me curious about the world and compassionate about others in a safe environment. Over the years, my interest in STEM has grown as demands for the workforce have changed. I’ve realized the significance of preparing students for jobs of the future, especially problems facing the environment or those with disabilities.

I believe that the shortages in STEM fields can be filled by preparing more women, which currently account for about 13% of the U.S. STEM workforce. To do so, we need to prepare girls with knowledge and skills but also equip them with confidence to be successful in such fields. My involvement in the community led me to combine my background, experience and passion into forming a nonprofit organization. I encourage teachers to find ways to explore their talents and interests beyond the bell.


Tell us about the GEMS Camp

The mission of The GEMS Camp (Girls interested in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) is to build confidence in urban teen girls in grades 7-12 through five core areas called the 5 Karat Gems – Academics, Career, Creativity, Leadership, and Service– so that they will be successful in STEM studies and careers. The Organization’s vision is to change the trajectory of generational poverty for underrepresented girls’ families.

We teach girls how to be CREATIVE thinkers and communicators – a valuable life skill to help them break away from the pack. They learn LEADERSHIP strategies through a one-of-a-kind, research-based curriculum addressing specific needs of urban girls. Third, girls participate in SERVICE to help them internalize the value of giving back to a greater cause. The camp also prepares girls through ACADEMICS by using rigorous and engaging lessons and experiments led by highly qualified instructors. And finally, The GEMS Camp addresses CAREER opportunities to its participants by inviting local, successful STEM women to speak about their professions and personal backgrounds.

The program started in 2010 as a Saturday day camp servicing 30 rising 7th-9th-grade girls held at a public library in Dallas, Texas. Since 2017, the model has evolved to a one-week residential Summer Experience program held at the University of North Texas at Dallas. The program concludes with a Graduation Ceremony and Community Exhibition, recognizing girls for completion and achievements throughout the program. The GEMS Camp continues to gain momentum reaching more students while maintaining authenticity to its mission. To date, we have served roughly 400 girls, exposing them to more than 30 North Texas female STEM professionals representing major corporations and organizations such as IBM, Atmos Energy, Frito Lay/Pepsico, Mary Kay, Inc., Hilti, Texas Instruments, HKS Architects and more.

One of our greatest accomplishments is the expansion of our mission to include helping girls build global STEM networks through travel. In June 2018, eight high school girls traveled to Italy (Naples, Rome, and Florence) to explore the “M” in STEM, studying geometric concepts of ancient and modern architecture, technology, and engineering. June 5-15, 2019, ten girls will have the opportunity to participate in a culture exchange in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) with local female STEM girls, while the Dallas camp will be held, June 21-28, 2019.


What do you see as the future of STEM?

To address the whole child, The GEMS Camp program design is rooted in the latest STEM education research, primarily STEM Learning Ecosystems (SLE’s)and incorporates best practices for bringing minority and low-income girls into the STEM career pipeline. In the future, I foresee STEM education headed more down this path based on reports I’ve read. The phrase STEM learning ecosystem has emerged from early works of human development research. SLE models include children at the center influenced directly by other people (e.g., family, friends) and settings (e.g., schools, neighborhoods) and indirectly by their environment and culture. Students shape and influence their environment and narrative via connections with other learners, community representatives, and the broader scope of world culture. I believe more funding will shift towards collaborative partnerships that are operating with this model. The emergence of newer adaptations of STEM –STEAM and STREAM will continue to take place.

However, long-term sustainability of such concepts are dependent upon the global job market. All of the data still point to science, technology, engineering and math-based positions; not the arts – though I am a firm believer and supporter of the arts. Until we see extreme shortages and disparities in the arts, as it pertains to STEM, I am not fully convinced yet that STEM is on its way out nor STEAM has enough critical mass to sustain its current popularity. But, I could be wrong; I hope it is not a fad.

Unlike the early days of STEM where emphasis was on engineering and computer science, I do believe greater increase in the sciences –biology, environment, and chemistry — will experience tremendous growth as human impact, biological warfare, and medical care are becoming macro-economic issues for both government and private sector.

To learn more about The GEMS Camp visit:



Saki Milton


Saki Milton is an experienced mathematics educator with more than 20 years in the education industry including adult learning, curriculum writing, coaching, market development, consulting, and most importantly eight years of classroom teaching. Passionate about STEM education, Saki is known for her extensive work in the U.S. by founding The GEMS Camp (Girls interested in Engineering, Mathematics and Science), a non-profit organization whose mission is to build confidence in girls in grades 7-10 in five core areas called the 5 Karat Gems – Academics, Career, Creativity, Leadership, and Service – so that they will be successful in STEM studies and beyond. The organization has served more than 350 girls across Texas since 2010, partnering with major STEM employers such as BP Oil, Pepsico-FritoLay, HESS Corporation, and NASA to name a few. Saki has worked for Pearson Education Middle East as the U.S. Schools Curriculum Manager, delivering educator support to American international schools across the gulf region. Today, she is an independent international educational consultant working on worthwhile edTech and publishing projects globally. Saki holds a B.A. in mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A. in marketing from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

KDSL Global Founder selected as a judge for Top School Awards in the United Arab Emirates


SchoolsCompared.com has announced the judges for the SchoolsCompared.com Top Schools Awards 2019. Seven senior educationalists will assess the final shortlist, and choose one single winner in each category.

The 2019 judges include the founder of the Emirates Literature Festival, Isobel Abulhoul OBE; the former head of the UK boarding association and Repton, Dubai, Jonathan Hughes -D’Aeth; former Samoan dual code international and professional rugby player, and owner of Apollo Sporting Academy, Apollo Perelini; former head of School Development for Sobha, and founder of the Education Intelligence Group, Shaun Robison; founder of the Early Years Educational Services and a recognised authority in Early Years, Sarah Rogers; founder of professional learning organisation KDSL Global, Kevin Simpson, and Which Media’s Head of Community, Lyn Soppelsa.

To learn more visit https://whichschooladvisor.com/uae/school-news/top-school-awards-judges-announced.

YouHue: Know Your Students


KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with Ammar Khan, Co-Founder & CEO of YouHueThis is a classroom app that uses mood tracking to empower students to understand their emotions so they can better manage and communicate them. Data from YouHue gives teachers insight that can be used to support student learning, identify and address issues, and build more meaningful relationships.


Tell us about YouHue and the connection to social-emotional learning.

YouHue makes social-emotional learning not only easy but fun and rewarding for every classroom. There are five core SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. YouHue is a tool that guides students to practice these core competencies in how they communicate with their teacher and other adults at the school, leading to real-world impact in the classroom right off the bat.

On YouHue, students are guided to select an emotion, then reflect on and write about why they feel that emotion at that moment. Students then send that “mood log” to their teacher. Through this research-based exercise, they practice identifying their emotions (self-awareness), coping with their emotions (self-management), reflecting on situations (responsible decision-making) and communicating their emotions effectively and confidently (relationship skills). Practicing checking in with their own emotions also deepens their understanding of the ways other people experience emotions (social awareness).

Pausing, reflecting, and then articulating how we feel helps us connect with and become more honest with ourselves. Then, we can do that with others. This helps us live the life we want to, relate and collaborate with others in ways that are fulfilling and honest, and even ask for help when we need it. All of this empowers us to feel ownership and autonomy.

When we recognize our ability to manage our own emotions, we recognize our ability to choose our lives and how we want to react and interact with the world around us. It’s then not up to other people to save us by reading our minds and then giving us what we need. Asking for help, for acknowledgment, for love, for affirmation, is how we get what we need. This type of giving and receiving is what makes us feel like connected, supported members of a community which is the basis of much of psychological wellness and thriving.

We chose the student-teacher relationship to base this practice because it offers not only an opportunity for students to strengthen their skills but also for communication between students and teachers to be increased and their relationships strengthened. Increased communication means teachers better understand their students and what they need to thrive. Strengthened student-teacher relationships are proven to increase students’ engagement in academics and their feeling of being part of their school community. This improves both mental wellness and academic performance. All of us have a tough time knowing when, how, and to whom we can open up and express ourselves. For kids, it’s particularly difficult. But, it’s really important that kids communicate… especially with the adults who are trying to help them succeed at school.


What are some ways YouHue is being implemented in classrooms?

YouHue is used in classrooms with students aged five through twenty-two. Each educator receives a YouHue Toolkit to help them introduce YouHue to their students. It is filled with background about the value of mood logging and gives teachers useful emotion terminology, plus tips for introducing YouHue to students so they feel good about using it. Then, most of our classrooms try to log on a daily basis. Usually, students share how they feel as they arrive at school in the morning. Besides that, teachers often invite their students to share at times that are uniquely meaningful in their classroom. For example, they might ask their students how they feel before or after a quiz, when an important event at school, or when current events impact their lives.

Once students start logging on YouHue, educators can access their YouHue Insights Dashboard where they can see a report on trends and key topics about which their students are logging. For example, insight into what made them confused this week or what got them really excited. Teachers also receive real-time email alerts if a student logs about a topic that indicates a mental health or learning issue–for example, if a student uses a word like “bully” in a log. That empowers teachers to help that student right when they need it.

As classrooms use the program, our team is always here to support them by providing more information or guidance about how to use YouHue with students. We’re always just an email or call away.

Schools learn more about their students and are able to keep up with what is impacting their behavior and learning, as well as what makes them who they are as people. Educators see their students’ communication and self-regulation skills flourish as they grow healthy habits of self-expression. And, together they build strong and meaningful relationships that lead to learning and growth.

Each of us experiences every type of emotion at some point. When the people who care about us understand how we feel we can work together to do amazing things. It all starts with, “How are you?”


How does the YouHue team envision the future of education?

We are preparing the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, family members, and teammates to be their best possible selves–to be confident and curious, kind and loving, thoughtful and in touch with their personal values. A YouHue student of the future is one who knows herself well enough to navigate setbacks, be authentic, rely on her community, and ask for help–all skills that lead a person to live a meaningful and fulfilling life in the 21st Century.

All of this is contingent on young people growing up and learning in an environment where they feel securely connected to their community and where their social-emotional skills are fostered. Educators all across the world have been recognizing the importance of fostering growth in young people in more than just academics. There is a loud and strengthening cry for tools that expand the abilities of educators to support their students in this way. Parallel to that outcry is the demand for learning environments that facilitate positive student-teacher relationships.

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional attachment to a primary caregiver is critical to personal development. A child with a healthy sense of attachment to caring adults in her life will feel the confidence to go out and explore the world knowing that when she tries things and fails, she has a support system. She also has a model for a healthy collaboration that will determine how she will interact with others throughout her life. We are providing educators with tools that will enable their relationship with their students to be one of those empowering relationships.

Psychological science has a robust knowledge of how to help young people develop emotional health, but the problem exists in making that knowledge applicable to the real world–in real schools and homes. That is what we are doing with YouHue. By giving educators and parents tools that provide effective emotional education and ways to practice life skills, we bring that knowledge to classrooms and families. YouHue, as you see it today, is just the beginning. It is the core exercise from which we will expand into additional exercises, resources, and education content that enable schools to provide truly rich guidance and support toward emotional wellness and mental thriving.

As a technology, we don’t seek to replace and exclude adults from the child’s emotional development. We seek to empower them with the right resources at the right time that will equip them with skills that universalize the standard of support students receive in their emotional education.

What we have been experimenting with over the past few years is offering social-emotional education resources (lesson plans and exercises) that up-skill the adults who work with children. These adults have often not received formalized emotional education themselves, and so skill levels vary significantly which has a huge impact on their abilities and confidence in supporting the emotional education and wellbeing of their students. By giving them resources that feel easy-to-use, effective, and engaging we up-skill in a way that not only gives our teachers confidence, increases their ability to educate their students, but also even improves their emotional skills over time.

In this, we not only improve the mental wellness of young people but also adults! Making the kind of impact in education that our society needs on a global scale will take all of us. Our vision of the future of education is one in which we work together as a community and a society, empowered by healthy technology, to elevate well being, engage learning, and ready human beings to move toward a brighter future. It all starts by changing our relationship with the world within ourselves. YouHue seeks a future in which education is synonymous with science, reading, and emotional thriving. We are working to empower educators to provide that type of education to their students, so their students are empowered in turn to make healthy and impactful connections with the world around them.


Here’s where you can learn more about YouHue websiteTwitter and Instagram. To join the free pilot program email ammar@youhue.com.



About Ammar Khan

Ammar Khan is an education and health tech entrepreneur who is the co-founder of YouHue, a mood tracking app that helps students communicate more meaningfully with their teachers while developing core social-emotional skills that improve their wellness and outcomes in classrooms.

College Day UAE



DUBAI, UAE, 14 February 2019 – KDSL Global is launching College Day UAE on 19 February 2019. The goal of College Day UAE is to support students to make an informed college decision, celebrate them for their postsecondary plans, and encourage younger students and families to prepare for college as early as possible. KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally.

“The idea for College Day UAE began after engaging with primary educators to find out how often they talk about the topic with their students,” said KDSL Global Founder Kevin Simpson.  He found that this was not often a topic of conversation. So the company decided to start a day where schools, educators, families, and the community have these discussions.

KDSL Global is also surveying college counselors based in the United Arab Emirates on college readiness. The results will be available during March 2019. One counselor stated that to be college ready means “Preparing students socially and mentally to essentially step into adulthood at the university/college level. Being able to teach them to be advocates for themselves since their parents should not once they leave for college.” Preliminary results show that:

  • 80% of schools have a college night or college fair
  • 60% of the college nights or fairs are held once a year
  • 20% of talks about college are happening at the primary level


Nedra Brown, Secondary & College and Career Counselor at Innoventures Education’s Collegiate American School stated, “College readiness is knowing what to expect in college and how to get there.  It means to know what is being provided for students and having the basic college academic and everyday skills.  When a student graduates from high school and decides to go to college, it is important for them to be prepared and know what is expected.  They need to know how to get into college, SAT, and study habits.”


To learn more about College Day UAE, challenges, ideas, how to participate, and more visit https://kdslglobal.wordpress.com/college-day-uae/.



+971 52 542 7009

Kevin Simpson, kevin@kdslglobal.com



IIE Summit 2019: The Future of International Education


KDSL Global Founder Kevin Simpson will be attending the IIE Summit 2019 and serving as a Summit Voice.

The IIE Summit 2019: The Future of International Education will take place February 17-19, 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Grand Central, New York City. The Summit will convene more than 500 leaders, influencers, and practitioners from education, government, business, philanthropy, and media for action-oriented discussion as we envision the next 50 years of international education, specifically centered around the primary themes: student mobility, access and equity, scholars and innovation, higher education in emergencies, and international partnerships.

Passionate about bringing new voices to the international #education conversation? Attend the #IIESummit2019 to join new and seasoned professionals as they envision the next 50 years of #intled: www.iie.org/summit.











National Entrepreneurship Week


Each year, National Entrepreneurship Week ask organizations from across the United States to join as partners. As a partner, these organizations pledge to support entrepreneurship in their local communities, hold local and virtual events to showcase entrepreneurship, and join in our social media campaign to spread the impact of entrepreneurship on a national scale.

KDSL Global is a partner with National Entrepreneurship Week happening during February 16-23, 2019. To find out more information visit https://www.natleshipweek.org

KDSL Global interviews author and College Success Coach Jahquan Hawkins


KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with author and College Success Coach Jahquan Hawkins.  Jahquan now serves as the Dean of Student Services at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.  He believes in empowering the community by empowering others.


What inspired you to focus on higher education?

I’m a product of Detroit Public Schools. I was a first-generation college student who lost two academic scholarships and almost became a casualty of Academic Suspension during my freshman year at Wayne State University. The sacrifices my parents made to ensure that I received a quality education motivated me to right the ship even though I struggled initially.  I was also extremely blessed to have well-intentioned mentors in my life who saw potential in me and consistently invested in my personal and academic success.

Ultimately that experience was the foundation to my career in higher education.  I relish the opportunity to provide the support to this generation of students that so many provided for me when I was finding my way as an undergraduate.  My college journey was life-altering and has opened doors I never imagined I’d be able to enter.  I understand that college isn’t for everyone, but in many ways, it was invaluable to me.


Tell us about your newest book.

Donovan’s College Adventure was inspired by the energy and imagination of our “junior citizens.”  I published my first book, Finding My Way, three years ago, and that journey landed me in a multitude of spaces.  I would frequently participate in book fairs that were family oriented and people were bringing children of all ages.  Finding My Way was geared toward college-bound high school students and current college students.  I quickly realized that I didn’t have a book which spoke to the elementary grade audience.  Being the father of a 6-year-old, I’m constantly reading children’s books but I hadn’t read a book that speaks to the journey that connects kids to their career aspirations.

Donovan’s College Adventure introduces kids to the higher education environment through the lens of 5-year-old Donovan Mack.  Donovan is curious, outgoing, and loves to learn.   It’s a fun story that will hopefully help kids understand that attending college is a dynamic experience.  You learn just as much outside of the classroom as you do inside the classroom.  My goal is for kids to embrace the experience as a viable pathway to their success.


What can schools and parents do to promote a college going culture?

Early exposure is key.  Parents should be consistently talking about career interests with their children, connecting them with opportunities to meet people who work in those areas, and taking them to the spaces that ultimately will prepare them for their desired career.  There are a number of dual enrollment opportunities for students which allow young people to dip their toes in the water before they decide which higher education experience best suits them.

In my ideal world, we would have a much more fluid relationship between secondary and post-secondary institutions.  K-12 systems should be in regular conversation with colleges and universities about industry trends, articulation with curriculum and mentoring opportunities. Too often, students enter the higher education environment ill-prepared to adjust to the cultural norms.  We must expand upon our partnerships to ensure that this doesn’t happen.  The culture will change when we realize that we need each other in order to be viable for the next 100 years.



To learn more about Jahquan’s work visit:






About Jahquan Hawkins

Jahquan Hawkins is a proud husband, father, College Success Coach and native Detroiter. After struggling as a college student himself, Jahquan has experienced a successful career in higher education and now serves as the Dean of Student Services at Oakland Community College’s (OCC) Auburn Hills campus.  Jahquan believes in empowering the community by empowering others.  In 2011, he and a group of college stakeholders helped establish OCC’s Man Up Program which provides higher education exposure opportunities for young men in Southfield Public Schools.  Jahquan is the Co-Director of this dynamic effort which has seen over 300 young men earn transferrable college credit as dual enrollees at the OCC.  In 2016, Jahquan published his first book entitled Finding My Way: A Practical Guide to College Success.  The text has been adopted by institutions such as Harper Woods Schools, Job Corps, and Wayne State University as a mechanism to help students adjust to the culture of the higher education environment.  Most recently, Jahquan was named one of Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 Honorees, joining other community trendsetters in the class of 2018.  Jahquan recently published a children’s book entitled Donovan’s College Adventure.  This latest release is designed to inspire youth to intentionally pursue their dreams through education.  In his spare time, Jahquan volunteers with organizations such as Detroit Kappa League, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and My Brother’s Keeper.





Finnish Education Expo- Middle East


KDSL is serving as a partner for the first ever Finnish Education Expo- Middle East to be held on the eve of GESS Dubai 2019.

The focus will be on sharing real life learnings and discussing how Finnish solutions can work in a local UAE context.

Some of the topics to be covered:

  • Gamification of learning – real life experiences from UAE (examples of Arabic language and math learning)
  • Moral Education and Finnish Curriculum Transversal Competencies – can we use the same learning methods?
  • Early childhood education

Join us for an afternoon of discovery and innovation on the 25th of February 2019 at the beautiful Raddisson Blu Waterfront, Dubai!

The event is targeted at school leaders and senior management. It is invitation only.


For more information please visit  http://finnisheducationexpo.com/.