Senior Leadership Team
Janecke Aarnaes is our Head of School. She brings to her role 22 years of experience in the public and private education sectors including national and international schools in Norway and Belgium. Most recently she was Head of Oslo International School (OIS), a cutting-edge private PreK to Grade 12 co-ed IB World School in Norway.
She holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John’s University in the UK and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology, Political Geography and French from University of Oslo in Norway. Janecke has furthermore studied international relations in Paris and speaks eight languages including, English, French, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Italian and German.
Ms. Fussell grew up in the Panama Canal Zone and brings over twenty years of experience in teaching and administration to the Lower School. She also brings a wealth of in-house knowledge after serving as Associate Director in the preschool and kindergarten division of Dwight in New York where she collaborated with parents, faculty, and staff to ensure a rich learning environment. Prior to joining Dwight, Ms. Fussell taught elementary school at the United Nations International School (UNIS) in New York, and at international schools in Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and Guatemala. Ms. Fussell received leadership training at The Harvard Graduate School of Education and the New York Association of Independent School’s Emerging Leadership Institute. In addition, Ms. Fussell has been an adjunct professor in literacy at Hunter College since 2017. Ms. Fussell shares her passion for IB literacy education, the PYP, student engagement, and responsive learning with community members.
Rebecca Skinner is the Associate Head of School. She brings to her role over 20 years of experience in the educational sector, including independent schools and non-profit organizations in New York City. Prior to joining Dwight School Dubai, she was, for over 14 years, the founder and founding head of school at International School of Brooklyn, a Nursery-Grade 8 language immersion (French and Spanish) and International Baccalaureate (PYP and MYP) school.
She holds a MA in French Cultural Studies from the Institute of French Studies at NYU in New York City and a BA in French and International Studies from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. In addition to speaking English and French, Ms. Skinner has a basic level of Spanish and is looking forward to learning Arabic, along with her husband and two children, as they settle into life in the UAE.
Ms. Jaya Bhavnani is currently the Executive Director of Dwight Global Online School. Instrumental in founding the program with Chancellor Stephen Spahn, she works closely with all areas of Dwight School to ensure that Dwight's online program meets the standards of excellence for which the school is known and ignites the spark of genius in every online student.
Ms. Bhavnani came to Dwight in 2010 with extensive experience in international education in public and private schools in Bombay, Muscat, Dubai and Santiago. Ms. Bhavnani has been actively involved with the International Baccalaureate as a Workshop Leader, Site Evaluator, Consultant, Examiner and Curriculum Reviewer. She is the Lead Facilitator for the Group 5 and Continuum Online Workshops in the Diploma Programme. She serves on the Evaluation Team for the CIS (Council for International Schools). She has served as a frequent guest contributor for professional development and curriculum alignment and review. She holds a BS in Education and Physics and a MS in Mathematics. She has an interest for learning languages and internationalism. A passionate educator, Ms. Bhavnani firmly believes in the power of life-long learning!
Sara joins the team with passion for the IB and over 10 years as an educator in Lebanon and Dubai. Prior to joining the Dwight School Dubai, she was the PYP Coordinator at Uptown School Dubai, an IB school in Dubai, where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the programme. Sara holds a BA in Education from the American University of Beirut, is an IB workshop leader and is currently training to become an IB site evaluator. She has pursued professional development through Harvard’s Project Zero and Making Thinking Visible, as well as workshops focused on Coaching, Differentiation and Inclusivity in schools, and Conceptual Based Teaching and Learning. Sara is originally from Lebanon and speaks English and Arabic.
Justin Dacanay has worked as an international educator in Japan, UK, Canada and Korea since 2004, including being part of the founding faculty at Dwight School Seoul and, most recently, working at Dwight School London. He also holds a BS in Kinesiology & Health Sciences and Psychology from York University, Toronto, Canada; a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education - Secondary from University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK; an MA in Education with a specialization in International Education (IB Educator Certificate) from University of Bath, UK; and he serves as an IB Examiner for Psychology. Mr. Dacanay is originally from Canada and speaks English.