Amato visits Qatar to develop model for new co-ed school

Michael Sugerman

Vice President John Amato made a presentation to a committee planning a new school in Qatar earlier this month, showcasing  Harvard-Westlake as an ideal model.

Amato flew to Qatar per the invitation of the RAND Corporation, whose mission is “to focus on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment and more,” according to the organization’s website.

“The purpose of the trip was to develop a plan for a school that would look very much like Harvard-Westlake in terms of its academic offerings and potentials, but also wrap around a school that has very significant performing and visual arts programs,” Amato said.

The new school will also work with the Katara Foundation, whose purpose is to bring the performing and visual arts community to Qatar.

“Academic excellence and excellent arts programs will go hand in hand,” Amato said. “The plan is for the school to be co-ed, and the main language would be English.”

Amato gave a PowerPoint presentation to the concept committee, which showed slides of Harvard-Westlake students in and out of the classroom. The lecture included video of performing arts, including last year’s middle school dance showcase and the 2011-2012 Madrigals and middle school Symphony performance in Chicago.

“They were hugely impressed by our level of musicianship,” Amato said. “Overall, they received the presentation very well. They liked the way we organize our buildings, the way practice rooms surround performing areas.”

The new school is going forward with a general concept.  Now, the committee will deal with size issues including classrooms and staffing. For the rest of the year, Amato said there will be continuous contact culminating in a summer trip where another team will go to Qatar for more planning.

“I just think this is a great opportunity,” Amato said. “I’ve done this a couple of times for RAND. It’s a great experience to see another part of the world. The Persian Gulf is certainly another part of the world. Qatar is still growing as a country. You can see that they are looking West, looking for models, and they want to be world leaders. They want them to grow and develop as thinkers and learners. We can absolutely and without question help them do so.”