COVID-19 is Testing Our Bandwidth

It has been 8 weeks since I started self-quarantine in my small apartment in Beijing, on January 26th, 2020. My school began online education on February 10th after having about two weeks to prepare teaching and learning policies, and to clearly communicate to all stakeholders what the ensuing weeks of online learning would (hopefully) look like. We had no idea how long that would last, and our current prognosis is a possible return to face-to-face learning in mid-April. I imagine, however, it won’t be that early as China now fears a second wave of cases as things slowly return to normal and people outside China return to the nation.


China has been both praised and pummeled for its response to COVID-19, with pundits, politicians, and average citizens around the globe weighing in on China’s social, educational, and political norms typically not fully comprehended even by those who live in this country of 1.4 billion people, both citizens and expatriates. From an insider perspective, I at least can attest to the safety and security I have felt over two months under quarantine, and since the last two weeks I now have a personal Chinese “community volunteer” from a local bureau who calls or texts me to ask about my health. She is ordered, as are other volunteers, to check on the well-being of foreigners, both for our safety as well as that of Chinese citizens, as in the past few weeks, thousands of Chinese have repatriated, and foreigners have received the greenlight to return to the country. Nonetheless, headlines in the West, and particularly America, continue to ravage China for its handling of a crisis now under control here and which is waging its viral war in other countries around the world.

There are a number of lenses through which the current crisis in China, and now globally, can be viewed. Cybersecurity, a recent interest of mine, has received new attention as threat actors look for new ways to prey on the vulnerable. I wrote a post on LinkedIn over a month ago about how China is leading the first-ever and largest national online learning experiment the world has ever seen. Equity for students has been a concern in China, as hundreds of millions of students and teachers were forced to switch to online learning in far less time than other nations have had to prepare. The government took early steps to ensure the nation’s technology infrastructure could handle the explosive increase of users (i.e., students) on multiple devices and streaming live or recorded lessons. Francis Miller, Director of College Counseling at Xi’an Tie Yi High School in Shaanxi Province, recently wrote a short piece for the International Association for College Admission Counseling (ACAC). He stated that, although measures have been taken to provide equal access to students across the country, this should not be equated with democratizing education for all. Additionally, the sociological effects of extended quarantine are seen in increases in domestic violence and, already, an increase in filings for divorce.

With the spread of COVID-19 globally, attention has turned from China to new epicenters such as Italy, Iran, and Spain. In America, my passport country, debate has arisen over how, or even if, a shift to online learning can work in a country whose ideals of equity in education rightly also surround home access to the internet and even food for students who depend on 1-3 free meals per day at their school. Other social phenomena have arisen, too, ranging anywhere from toilet paper and hand-sanitizer hoarding to the cancellation of athletics and other forms of entertainment, like my go-to late night comedy shows.


What has persisted, but has morphed and evolved once again, is the discussion around race relations within and between countries, from the East to the West. COVID-19 is the official designation of the novel coronavirus which found its epicenter in Wuhan, China. At the beginning of February, when COVID-19 was only “China’s problem,” I posted an opinion article on LinkedIn reporting the imminent fear that Chinese, and Asians generally, were likely to experience regarding discrimination, racism, and xenophobia—take your pick of words, each of them apply. Many were worried about this, in fact, and “-isms” of all kinds have taken over social media like a tempest. In that LinkedIn post, I was challenged by a few commenters to consider how Chinese people treat people of other colors and ethnicities. Those who know me or follow me on LinkedIn know I frequently discuss racism and discrimination that educators of color face in the international school world.


Fast forward to this week, when another one of my LinkedIn posts addressed discrimination, racism, and xenophobia—again, take your pick because they all apply. This post, however, consisted of me expressing my great disappointment in many Chinese citizens’ response to revised regulation purportedly allowing more ways for foreigners in China to obtain permanent residence status. Most of the proposed regulations already exist in some form, and it is likely some netizens in China simply don’t realize this. Their responses, however, comprised virulent racism and xenophobia toward, in particular, black and brown expatriates from around the globe. Some have attributed the heinous response to fears of foreigners returning to China who may be infected with COVID-19. Thus, many in China quickly turned from persecuted to persecutor in a matter of weeks.


In yet another LinkedIn post several weeks ago, I discussed an article written by Chinese authors published on February 16, 2020. The new research described the effects of misleading media coverage during public health crises, with COVID-19 serving as a case study. The article discussed how such coverage perpetuates racial discrimination, negatively impacts country image, and damages mental health during a crisis such as the novel coronavirus outbreak. Importantly, the article approached the topic using a 2015 quantitative study that investigated “relationships between experiences of perceived racial discrimination…and 12 common psychiatric diagnoses…of African-American and Afro-Caribbean adults in the U.S.” This is important research that I hope will be part of a growing body of literature on race relations where, as a global superpower, China engages the topic of racism on many fronts. Already we see how research on the trauma of racism on people of color in America can inform new lines of research in China. Collaborative research needs to happen so that cultures are learning from each other, working toward solutions.


COVID-19 is testing the world’s bandwidth in every way possible, from online learning to the economy to politics to travel to medical supplies and, of course, the internet itself. A personal takeaway for me, however, is that racism and xenophobia exacerbate our already-stretched bandwidth. The vitriol of cultural superiority and degrees of melanin gives victory to an invisible virus. Everyone—including White people—need to do the work of antiracism with those who experience discrimination. Whatever our profession or location in the world, we—including White people—need to look for ways to advocate for those around us who don’t look like us. We/I need to collaborate, learn, and un-learn. We/I need to embrace difficult topics and conversations. Let’s not socially-distance ourselves from the values and virtues we need for a more pluralistic vision of a world equally affected by the current crisis. Let’s keep moving forward.





Lucas Roberts has served as a social studies teacher, professional development coordinator, vice principal, and principal in China since 2009. His teaching experience spans grades 6-12, and leadership experience grades K-12. Additionally, he has been involved in accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 2012, first as his school’s WASC site coordinator and, since 2014, serving on visiting team committees in Cambodia, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, and Thailand. He started the LinkedIn Group, International Educator Equity Forum, to further conversations and solutions around educator equity issues in international schools. He has served on a panel in Thailand to discuss student leadership in athletics, presented at a conference on the topic of building discovery learning school cultures in China, and has written several book reviews in peer-reviewed journals and popular platforms. An additional passion of his is to draw awareness to social-emotional and mental health needs in our transient, cross-cultural school communities.


Lucas earned B.A., M.Div., and M.Ed. degrees, and is currently a doctoral candidate through Wilkes University’s Dubai-based, international cohort. His research interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion in international schools, cross-cultural leadership, and what it means for schools to collaborate, not just compete, in the international school world. He is a member of the KDSL Global Advisory Council.


Thank you, Stuart Dennis


Yesterday I found out my former Head of School in Dubai (GEMS World Academy) passed away. In one of our emails he asked me to do an interview. This blog post is dedicated to him.


Hello Kevin,
Maybe you’ll consider to do an interview  as part of my little series of interview articles for LinkedIn. Honestly, this is nothing more than a intellectual stimulation for me whilst I’m going through chemo again. However, a great way to connect with amazing people like you.


  1. How would describe your leadership style? How has it evolved over the years and why?

I see myself as a coaching leader. Many times I enjoy supporting teammates in fulfilling their goals and providing feedback to aid in growth. The one on one interaction and finding out where people are and how to best be of assistance is where I get energy.


  1. Who are your leadership idols and why?

My business advisor Alister Aranha as he always ask great questions and pushes my thinking.

John Ritter, one of my first international school heads, because of his wealth of knowledge and experience around school leadership.

Cynthia Buck was the first principal who hired me in Virginia. She set forth a clear vision and was always supportive with our team goals and my personal goals.


  1. What is your greatest leadership success?

Setting up a company in a country outside of the USA. This was done in 2013 in Dubai. There was a lot to learn but so worth the journey.


  1. What’s the toughest leadership challenge you’ve faced?

Being comfortable speaking up and out about issues related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the international education space.


  1. Looking forward in your current role, what excites and motivates you as a leader?

Interacting with future talent in the present. This is built into our KDSL Global Fellowship Program. In one year these educators learn more about entrepreneurship and launch a new product or service.


  1. What lessons in leadership are you still hoping to learn?

Focusing on a few things would be something I need to revisit. In the past I would choose 3 big things to focus on daily.


  1. Do you see your role also a leadership mentor and trainer? Is succession planning at all levels in the organisation important you? How do you achieve this?

I see myself as a leadership learner. This is due to being willing to learn from others based on their experiences. Legacy thinking started with the fellowship program we set up in 2017. It was the idea of how do you give back to the new and next generation of those who work in education? We empowered consultants to start their own ventures and engage in a range of projects. This was my experience which allowed me to learn lots about what I enjoyed and what I did not.

A big change is coming in 2020 at KDSL Global around planning ahead. More to come in the near future.


  1. What’s your advice to experienced school leaders looking for the next big step?

Learn what you can where you are. Write down and work on your next big thing but do not allow it to consume you. This may make you miss out on lessons and learning in your current context.


  1. What’s your advice to inexperienced leaders in school looking for the first big step?

It would still be learn what you can where you are. Seek a mentor who can serve as a guide. Seek and sign up for opportunities to serve as a leader wherever you are currently working.


  1. And finally, how do you relax? 




Just pausing and taking a break from work
Stuart, ‬
‪I’m crushed to hear the news of your departure. You are the reason I came to Dubai. Your vision and leadership were impeccable. I feel you tricked me as well when I found out upon arrival that I’d be teaching the daughter of the Head of School. ‬

‪Thank you for checking in with me & encouraging me to pursue my goals and dreams. You signed every form I brought your way when I wanted to learn, grow, and develop. I’ll miss our updates. ‬

‪In today’s international education leadership space I find few like you. You hired a Black man to teach at what was then the most expensive IB school in Dubai during 2008. I didn’t put my photo on my CV. On our phone interview I learned about you & your expectations.‬

‪You shared leadership opportunities & served as a reference for me countless times, connected me with education leaders around the world, and added me on your team. ‬

‪Thank you for the opportunity to serve, learn, and for being a true leader.‬

Education Entrepreneurs: Virtual Panel and Networking

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Education Entrepreneurs: Virtual Panel and Networking hosted by Vanguard Educators and KDSL Global

Saturday March 28, 2020

1:00-2:00pm CST

Join us for an online panel with Education Entrepreneurs who have worked around the world. 


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Kevin Simpson owns and operates KDSL Global. This education consulting company launched in 2016 in the USA and in the United Arab Emirates. He and his team has served thousands of schools, educators, and leaders worldwide in over 20 countries. The majority of this work in education has centered on American curriculum schools. Since 2008, he has been focused on education in the MENA region, assisted numerous schools with accreditation, training, development, school improvement, and school start-up projects.  Simpson is co-founder of the UAE Learning Network and leads the GCC ASCD Connected Community. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University (USA). Currently, he is studying in the Association for the Advancement of International Education’s Institute for International School Leadership and founder of the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color.



Dee Azlan, also known as the Business Artist, is a successful graphic artist and entrepreneur educator who specializes in the advocacy of women in the field of business. In addition to being a sought-after, elite, international makeup artist and talented photographer, she is also the founder of THEORY Beauty Cosmetics.After successfully launching her beauty brand internationally, she now travels to inspire budding entrepreneurs to discover their gifts, passion, and purpose to build a brand that is authentic to their identity using her signature entrepreneur program, DNA Method.

Her expertise as a visionary problem solver enables her to identify obstacles that stunt business growth. Moreover, Dee’s creative and critical thinking abilities bring clarity and purpose to the process of building an effective and decisive business development strategy.



Jason Hayes is the founder of Vanguard Education and the author of The Art of Teaching: The 5 Elements to Inspire.  As a researcher, inspirational speaker, and author, Jason aims to inspire businesses, organizations, and schools to be comfortable with change and the unknown in order to achieve personal and organizational goals.  Jason has the magnetic gift of connecting to, energizing, and inspiring various audiences. Mr. Hayes’ 3Rs “Rewind, Review, and Renew” method is a paradigm for organizational and personal change through recognizing and understanding history.


To attend this free event please email to register.

KDSL Global interviews Nicole Fedio of Mathematique


KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to interview Nicole Fedio, one of our math consultants based in Saudi Arabia. She recently collaborated with our company in Egypt and was a presenter at the Middle East Maths Teachers Conference in Dubai.

Tell us about Mathematique.

Mathematique is a boutique mathematics consulting business. When I think of it, an image immediately pops into my head. It’s a Venn Diagram that first appeared in the Toronto Star in 2016 (see graphic below). Mathematique sits firmly in the center of the four overlapping circles: ‘What I love’, ‘What the world needs’, ‘What I can be paid for’, and ‘What I’m good at.’ After two decades of math teaching and math coaching experience, launching Mathematique allows me to share my deep and passionate love for exploring the teaching and learning of mathematics with others, centered by those four prompts.

What I bring to mathematics consulting is my dedication to the craft of coaching. It was after working with hundreds of teachers as a coach that I decided I wanted to venture out on my own as an independent consultant. Providing quality professional development to educators is more than just delivering content. It’s about building relationships. It’s about asking participants the right questions so they form their own understanding of the material. It’s coaching adults to answer their own questions. If we want our students to become problem solvers and good questioners, then we must first model this as educators. The mission of Mathematique is to empower educators with the mathematical expertise needed to inspire the problem solvers of the future. And my vision is to live in a world where I never hear, ‘but I can’t do math’ ever again.



What do you say to people who say they aren’t a math person?

When people claim they can’t do math or say,  ‘but I’m not a math person’ my first response is to ask why. Too many people carry trauma from the way they were taught math in school. Too often I hear, ‘I used to like math until…’ I think one of the main issues is how narrowly we have defined what it means to ‘do math.’ As a coach, I worked at a school where I would regularly share intriguing math problem solving activities with teachers. The PE teacher loved solving them. Her solutions were unique and showed a complex level of understanding of the problems. Without fail, after finding a solution she would say, ‘but I’m not a maths person. I didn’t take maths past grade 10.’’ In her mind, maths was complicated formulas, algorithms, and something that she still could not access. It was not problem solving, finding patterns, or making meaning out of data. One goal I have is to expand the definition of what it means to be a ‘math person.’



Three things you would share with a new math educator.

When working with new math educators, I first remind them to be kind to themselves and to give themselves some grace. Teaching is such a wonderful profession because it’s never the same day twice. And that is both a blessing and a curse. We are continually growing, learning, and evolving as educators. When I think back to some of the things I did in my first few years of teaching, I cringe and want to write blanket apology letters to all of my former students. Instead, I can reflect on what I would now do differently given the same circumstances and help others not to repeat my mistakes. Secondly, I would advise new math educators to dive into the art of questioning. Questioning is key. Asking the right questions of both their students and themselves is a pathway to growth. When a student asks a math question to which the teacher does not know the answer, consider that a great learning opportunity. It’s OK not to know and to research the question together with the student. Or, it’s perfectly fine to take the time to come back to the student later with an answer. And thirdly, find your positive math community. Surround yourself with people who are excited about the teaching and learning of mathematics and trying new things. Your community might include colleagues at your school, or it might be a virtual community online. Find the people like me who will help nurture your inner mathematician and encourage you to keep asking the necessary questions of both yourself and of your students.




Nicole Fedio is an independent mathematics consultant at Mathematique Consulting. With two decades of experience as an educator, Nicole taught high school mathematics in Ghana, Venezuela, Guatemala, Boston, Seattle, India and China. For four years, she was the K-12 district math coach for a group of six international schools in Saudi Arabia. She earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Penn State University and a M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. She is a National Board certified teacher.

She holds a deep and passionate love for exploring the teaching and learning of mathematics. She finds joy in helping others find their inner passion for the subject. Her vision is to live in a world where she never hears, “but I can’t do math” ever again by supporting teachers to rewrite their students’ mathematical stories. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleFedio




KDSL Global Founder on Ed-Talk Live


Ed-Talk Live is an International Educational Talk show hosted by ELASCD and Pakistan ASCD. The mission is to connect educators globally and spread wise words for better education. On a recent show, KDSL Global Founder Kevin Simpson was a guest discussing education entrepreneurship and supporting international education leaders of color.
To access the discussion visit

Right, Just, and True: Why I Did Not Attend or Speak at #AAIE2020

Right, Just, and True:
Why I Did Not Attend or Speak at #AAIE2020

5 Minute Read


The shorter story:

I’ll answer the above question in a short, simple manner: I don’t see investment in diversity by those proclaiming to lead diversity and inclusion in education. All I see, after numerous attempts to engage, is silence.


July 2019:

Sent a letter to leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning requesting a dialogue about how diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content and concerns that the new faculty were lacking in the diversity department.

The mission of AAIE is a global community that connects diverse people, ideas and resources, AAIE helps international educators lead with vision, wisdom, courage and integrity.


July 2019 – November 2019:

Follow up emails sent and no response.

Received a response indicating interest from PLS 3rd Learning, stating their interest in engaging in a conversation and asking for a point person to coordinate with.

After receiving this email we followed up several times, but the silence continued.


January 2020

I decided not to attend AAIE’s 2020 Conference and withdrew from a panel entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities.

We requested AIELOC members not to financially support organizations who are silent on issues important to us.



The longer story:

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior


Almost one year ago on 6 March 2019 I would write a blog post entitled #AAIEGlobalsowhite. In this post it stated that:

“Last year after attending #AAIE2018 there was a shock after noticing how much the international education leadership community lacked in the diversity department. There was talk at a session about critical issues (diversity being one of the topics). A hard decision was made not to attend #AAIE19 being that I was a member and studying in the AAIE Institute for International School Leadership.”

I questioned if the strategic plan would ever shift at AAIE as well as at ALL international schools around diversity, equity, and inclusion in international leadership.

I ended this blog by highlighting that the next generation of international leaders are diverse, disruptive, and want their voice included. We are ready to collaborate and add to the CONVERSATION. Is AAIE ready to listen?

In the last year the Diversity Collaborative increased in activity, membership, and a first report was produced by this committee, ISC Research, and George Mason University called From Resistance to Sustainability and Leadership Cultivating Diverse Leaders in International Schools. However, there are too many areas left unwritten such as race in international school leadership. This is one area the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is focused on as we amplify and advocate for those who are treated as invisible or ignored at times. The Diversity Collaborative focuses on creating a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and just environment among the leadership of the international school community. While this group acknowledges work needs to be done, I notice very few willing to be publicly vocal about organizations and systems which they benefit from. I want to give a shout out to those international educators and leaders who consistently use their voice, listen, connect, and take action. Thank you to Luke Roberts, Brian Bedrick, Liam Hammer, Hope Teague-Bowling, and Adrienne Michetti.

I ponder many questions, such as diversity for who? Who is to benefit and at whose expense? Why so many remain silent and comfortable? Who is included and excluded in conversations?


The message below was sent to the leadership and board at AAIE as well as the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning in July 2019.

Dear AAIE,

On the about me section on your website it states that you “exchange international ideas, resources and research that help develop and improve international education, to diversify and expand school leadership capacity.” We are hoping to have a conversation after reviewing the AAIE Institute for School Leadership team of instructors found here

We currently list the institute as a suggested international school leadership program for our AIELOC members. Our founder is enrolled in the program and is elated to see additional instructors beyond having one who taught all courses in the past. After reviewing the seven faculty members it was noted that there was a lack of racial diversity present.  We would like to know the process for serving as an instructor.  As future opportunities arise to serve on this team, please let us know so that we can share this with our membership. In addition, we are curious to know how topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity are being explicitly built into the curriculum and content of the seven courses.


We followed up numerous times with hopes to engage. However, there has been silence except the one time the CEO of PLS 3rd Learning sent this message:


Dear friends at AIELOC,

We would be very happy to engage in a conversation about our coursework and instructor cadre.  Of course, we would also love to add new instructors and have greater diversity on our team.  It would help if you would identify a contact person in your organization that we can engage with.  Thank you.  Sincerely, Don Jacobs


After receiving this email, we followed up several times, but the silence continued.

After reflecting on this lack of response I declined to attend the recent AAIE 2020 Conference in New York and serve on a panel, which I supported in organizing, entitled Leading by Example: Cultivating Equitable, Inclusive and Just Communities.  In addition, we have recently shared with the AIELOC members to not financially support any international education organizations who are silent on issues that are important to us. I am grateful to Liz Duffy and Dana Watts at International School Services for including me in the planning process and for their leadership.

The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.

  • We continue to challenge and call in organizations whose values and actions are not aligned.
  • We continue to ensure all of our members are supported in order to develop and reach their full potential.
  • We continue to share the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity as highly valuable and a necessity in all international education organizations.
  • We continue to invite allies in who want to change the narrative
  • We continue to engage in conversations that lead to action


A man lives when he stands up for that which is right. A man lives when he stands up for justice. A man lives when he takes a stand for that which is true.

Launch of new association focused on international educators and leaders of color


Dallas, Texas, January 6, 2020 – A new international education association focused on the global majority has launched. The Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.

“When I started working in education internationally it was rare to connect and see others who looked like me. We want to make sure educators and leaders of color know there is a community to support them,” said AIELOC Founder Kevin Simpson.

Simpson is founder of KDSL Global, a leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education companies globally. He has served 500+ schools and thousands of educators in 20 countries worldwide. His journey working abroad started in 2005 in Vientiane, Laos.  Almost three years ago Simpson set up a Facebook group devoted to sharing opportunities for educators and leaders of color after a highly qualified colleague was discouraged from pursuing a leadership position because her country of origin did not match the expectation.

Last year Simpson’s company researched the race and gender of school leaders at US Department of State Assisted Schools around the world. The findings showed that leaders were mostly white and male. An infographic with more information is found here:

AIELOC is collaborating with companies around the world whose actions are focused on changing the narrative of who leads in the international education space, such as EDspired, The Global Sleepover, Bhudye Group, The Diversity Collaborative, and Live. Love. Teach!, LLC.


For further information, please contact Kevin Simpson

Tel: +312.478.1695 |


Meet our new AIELOC Intern – Isabella Ellwein


Welcome to our new AIELOC Intern! Isabella Ellwein is a junior at Oregon State University majoring in Cultural Anthropology with minors in Education and Spanish. She has a passion for social policy, advocacy, and working with others. Isabella previously researched the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Salem, Oregon, evaluating the effectiveness of the department to ensure it was rehabilitating the youths. She is also on the executive board of the Here to Stay club at Oregon State University, where she helps bring awareness to the issues DACA and undocumented students face in education and focuses on advocating for change. Isabella is the granddaughter of Cuban immigrants and holds her heritage close to her heart. Seeing that this company empowers leaders of color to have a voice in education is amazing to her. Through this internship, Isabella hopes to improve her research skills, learn more about social policy advocacy, and gain a better understanding of the discrimination educators of color face.

AIELOC is devoted to amplifying the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research.



KDSL Global interviews Marla Hunter


Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Marla Hunter of Live. Love.Teach!, LLC. Currently, Hunter is based in the United Arab Emirates and passionate about coaching, diversity, and inclusion. She is a new collaborating partner with KDSL Global with plans to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the international education space.


Tell us about your work mentoring teachers.

I have been mentoring educators for almost 10 years now. Without mentors or instructional coaches, teachers would flounder in every decision they make. I use practical strategies to support the teachers that I coach and elevate. This helps to improve the quality of education for students.

Below are the steps that I use during coaching/mentoring

  • Reassuring new teachers
  • Providing encouragement to all
  • Offering feedback
  • Being there during the “oh no!” and “ah ha!” moments
  • Reflecting together


Tell us about your work towards moving schools to embrace diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion is something that I have been working on since I began my work in education 15 years ago. It is important to remember that it is the responsibility of educators to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of the students in their care; whether the student is in their immediate classroom or not. NPR‘s Bill Chappell reports that, according to the Census Bureau, “By around 2020, ‘more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group.’” Can you imagine that this is just the USA? Just think about GLOBAL education. When I moved abroad I helped to start a Facebook group catered to People of Color (POC) teaching abroad and wanting to move abroad to teach.  I have conducted several Periscopes and Facebook Live conversations to discuss DEI and other concepts of global education.

As a collective we need to stop talking about DEI in international education and start taking action.

  • Building community
  • Building trust
  • Instruction/Professional Development


What leadership coaching services do you offer?

I offer the following services that can be found on my website:

  • Teacher Mentoring
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Technology Coaching
  • Employee Training and Development


M Hunter

After a successful career of teaching in both public and private education in Nashville (TN), Memphis (TN), and Orlando (FL), Marla Hunter is now teaching internationally and has taught in the following places: China (Shenzhen), Nigeria (Abuja), and currently the UAE (Al Ain).

Marla graduated from University of Memphis, by way of Oakwood College (now University), with a Bachelor’s in K-8 Education and from Nova Southern University’s MATL (Master’s of Teaching and Learning) program where she earned a degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

It is believed that as educators we must work to inspire the students with a love of learning. We must also teach them how to learn and equip them with the tools necessary for their next step in life. The child must work to be teachable, to practice their lessons faithfully, and to learn from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. Finally, the classroom must encourage curiosity, foster thinking, and facilitate productivity. It must be a safe and inviting environment in the eyes of the child.

Marla is a firm believer in the use of EdTech & a lover of Maths. She has participated and facilitated several math initiatives in Tennessee and Mt. Holyoke University: SITES-M School (Strengthening Instruction in Tennessee Elementary Schools) – Focus on Mathematics, Summer Math for Teachers Working with Data: DMI Training/ DMI Facilitation Training, Summer Math for Teachers Geometry: Examining Features of Shape DMI Training/ DMI Facilitation Training, and SITES-M DMI Training for Teachers Number and Operations, Part 1 Building a System of Tens: Calculating with Whole Numbers and Decimals. She also provided quarterly Parent PD (Early Childhood Parent Sessions) in Reading, Math, and STEM/STEAM at the International School of Abuja.

Marla’s school in Nashville, TN was also the anchor school to begin the use of Common Core State Standards for the state. Marla receive training and became a trainer in CCSS for both K-8 Maths. She developed workshops to help educators in Memphis & Orlando. She also helps school districts, homeschool co-ops & various educational companies development EdTech and other curriculums for their various programs.



New KDSL Global Senior Associate


Meet Mona Fairley Nelson, our new KDSL Global Senior Associate.
Mona Fairley-Nelson is an educational leader who has served in numerous international schools since relocating abroad in 2014. Mrs. Fairley-Nelson’s vast leadership experience includes: developing international partnerships with colleges and universities to support school innovation, developing quality instructional practices in K-12th grade, accreditation planning and report writing, multidivisional strategic planning and school improvement, budgeting development and allocation for organizational growth, implementing effective leadership and supervision models, and creating sustainable practices for start-up schools across the globe.
The majority of Mrs. Fairley-Nelson’s work in education has centered on supporting American curriculum schools in the NESA region. She presented at the MENA Teacher Summit in Dubai, AAIE conference in San Francisco, and the END conference in Portugal. Additionally, she organized the PEAK 2019 educational conference in Kuwait which hosted over one thousand of the country’s educators. In August of 2019, Mrs. Fairley-Nelson will expand her professional reach to include the AASSA region as well.
Mrs. Fairley-Nelson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development, a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education, and a Master of K-12 Leadership and Supervision degree. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree in International Educational Leadership from Wilkes University.