Saudi Arabian educators tour VUSD campuses

(Rigo Moran)

Maarif Education, PowerSchool representatives travel to Visalia to get a look at local campuses, discuss student learning

VISALIA – In a historic exchange, representatives from Maarif Education, an educational institution in the Middle Eastern region, traveled to Visalia to meet with educators and tour Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) campuses.

The visit was arranged by PowerSchool, a California-based software developer that produces tools for schools that allow for streamlining attendance reporting, grades and human resources, and took place on April 22. Darren Perl, the regional vice president of strategic sales for PowerSchool, described the opportunity to facilitate this unique and educational exchange as “phenomenal.”

“The robust transfer of ideas, strategies and best practices for leveraging education technology was something very special,” he said. “This was the first time in California for many of our guests from Maarif in Saudi Arabia, and Visalia USD provided tremendous hospitality.”

Perl described both VUSD and Maarif Education  – which are both PowerSchool clients – as incredible school systems. Maarif Education is located in Riyadh, the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. The goal of the meeting between VUSD and Maarif was to share ideas on solving challenges such as post-COVID learning, grading and the use of technology in the classroom.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to learn in a way that matches who they are, where they are in life and what motivates them,” SchoolPower states on its website. “But with the demands on educators, school systems and families, truly personalizing the educational experience has not been possible—until now.” The company describes itself as a leader in education technology.

Rick Hamilton, the administrator, communications, strategy and outreach at VUSD, said the experience was enlightening and he was surprised to find a lot of shared experiences. 

“I was surprised by how much we had in common in terms of addressing the same problems, things like reaching out to parents,” Hamilton said. “We had a great conversation and there were things that we picked up from them. I think we will continue to have conversations in the future.”

The group toured Redwood High School and Divisadero Middle School, spending about 45 minutes touring each campus. The campuses and educational leaders with VUSD demonstrated how PowerSchool provides a unique and successful educational opportunity.

Maarif is partnering with PowerSchool to help develop better campuses in Saudi Arabia. Ihab Ibrahim Osman, CEO of Maarif Education described the software package as a “game changer” in a video posted on Linkedin two months ago.

Osman said that through the use of technology, it is his goal to see the Maarif school system become a global leader in excellence by 2030 as the group expands its K12 campuses.

Maarif Education has over 40 years of experience managing 13+ national and international schools across the kingdom. It supports 23,000 students currently and will be expanding closer to 50,000 students, likely before the end of the year. Maarif is dedicated to developing an integrated educational system that nurtures children from early stages to university or the workforce, according to a press release on the event.

VUSD is similar in several regards. It is the 32nd largest school district in California and supports 32,000 students across 56 campuses ranging from preschool to adult education.

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