With a great deal of joy, gratitude and excitement, Friends United Meeting is pleased to announce a very significant transition for Ramallah Friends School (RFS).
Over the last 12 years, Joyce Ajlouny has served with remarkable grace and expertise as Director of RFS. As a former student, parent of three RFS students and teacher at the school, Joyce stepped into the Director’s role both understanding the current needs on campus and casting a vision for growth. The international community of Friends and the Ramallah community have been blessed by her strong leadership, innovation and clear calling during her tenure. Alongside the staff and RFS board, Joyce has helped transform RFS into a premier educational institution in Palestine and one rooted in the values and spirituality of Friends.
Over the last three years, Joyce has discussed with the FUM General Secretary an eventual transition into a new position that would capitalize on her unique gifts, background and further dreams for RFS. One of Joyce’s passions is to grow a stronger endowment for student scholarships and for operational expenses that will keep the cost of education affordable for Palestinian families. With her strong track-record and success in raising funds and her expertise in securing facility grants, alumni support and endowment funding, we are now prepared to free Joyce to focus more exclusively on building the capacity for RFS.
Thanks to a very generous gift by US donors, FUM is pleased to announce that Joyce Ajlouny will be transitioning out of the role of Director of RFS into a new US-based position focused on Advancement and Alumni Relations. A search for a new, Ramallah-based Head of School will commence immediately. A position announcement and job description for this FUM field staff appointment is being finalized and will be available soon. Joyce will continue to oversee the operations of the school until the new Head of School is in place, ideally before the end of the current academic year.
During her time as Director of the school, Joyce and her team have implemented a variety of innovative changes and improvements throughout the campus and curriculum. Highlights include:
- Raised unprecedented capital campaign funds (total over $12 million) that historically transformed both campuses including three new buildings (Kindergarten and multipurpose hall at the Lower School, New Middle School building in two stages at the Upper School campus), turf fields, technology in all classrooms and wifi throughout campus, mechanical and electrical upgrades, refurbished science labs and arts rooms, new sports fields and water cisterns, landscaping, pathways and the creation of outdoor learning spaces, as well as the installation of photo-voltaic solar panels (planned for Fall 2016) to generate the power needs of the Upper School Campus.
- Initiated and oversaw the design and implementation of a multimillion-dollar commercial building (constructed on school land), designed to generate much needed revenue for the school.
- Oversaw the development of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, authorization of the IB Middle Years Program (MYP), and candidacy of the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) (authorization expected in 2018).
- Initiated and oversaw the historic creation of a new academic division – the Middle School — on the Upper School campus and ensured the design and construction of a state-of-the-art “green” building with the help of an international architectural firm specializing in schools. Building opened its doors to students in August 2016 bringing 6th grade from the Lower School with a new administrative structure in place.
- Promoted and oversaw a multi-year enrollment expansion and class-size reduction program which dropped the number of students in the classroom from 30 to 25/26 and added a section in each grade level. The number of students grew from 982 in 2003-04 to 1,395 students in 2016-17 (42% increase).
- Raised unprecedented funds from RFS alumni and attendees through events in Dubai, Amman and the US and was successful in securing the largest individual gifts in the school history.
- Wrote numerous successful grant applications and secured unprecedented funding for the school’s development program mainly from USAID/American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), The United Nations, the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, the German Development Bank (KFW), among others. Created an online donation management system (ETapestry) to better track school donations and communicate with supporters.
- Initiated and supported two successful and ongoing summer programs: “I Know I Can Summer Academies” and “Go Palestine Summer Camp”, hired their directors and oversaw their implementation; the former brings Teach for America educators to Palestine who run a creative summer camp for all ages and the latter brings together international youth with RFS students for a 3-week service and cultural immersion experience.
- Increased cash reserves from 0% (2004) to 78% (2016) of liability despite currency fluctuations, economic recession and high inflation.
- Restructured and created a more robust organizational structure including a Facilities Department (2011) and the positions of Dean of Academics (2015 – currently vacant), Finance and Business Development (summer 2016), Communications and Development (summer 2016), and Middle School Assistant Principal (fall 2016).
- Created the College Counseling program, ensuring that RFS students enrolled in the best universities globally.
- Asserted Quaker ethos through various programs including the development of Quaker Faith and Practice and Quaker/RFS History Courses and a Problem Solving program for the Lower School.
- Promoted a Friend-in-Residence program that brought Quaker volunteers to serve at RFS. Most notably, worked with one volunteer couple on archiving RFS history and finally publishing a book (Sumoud) that chronicles RFS history through photographs and oral histories.
- Promoted and supported the development of an Inclusive Education Learning Support Program moving the program from serving 10 students to 60 at present.
- Nurtured and developed the exchange program with US Quaker Schools adding two new schools.
- Represented and promoted RFS with alumni and Friends communities globally with at least 150 presentations made thus far.
Clearly, Joyce has served and led the school exceedingly well. As she transitions to a new role, we are grateful that she will continue to apply her gifts for the benefit of the school and Palestinian community. We ask you to keep Joyce in your prayers as she moves into this new season of ministry and pray for the Friends United Meeting Global Ministries Department as a search for a new Head of School begins.