This year, King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan celebrates its ten-year anniversary. His Majesty King Abdullah II, Deerfield Class of 1980, founded King’s Academy alongside Deerfield former headmaster Eric Widmer. Head of School Margarita Curtis stated, “From [King’s] inception, the relationship to Deerfield was extremely tight.” Dr. Widmer brought two Deerfield teachers to begin teaching at King’s in hopes to “create a culture” similar to Deerfield. King’s now includes 670 students from grades seven to twelve, and 40 countries are represented within the student body. These figures are not dissimilar to Deerfield’s. Throughout the years, there have been several exchange opportunities for both teachers and students.
Bakir Mohammad, a King’s teacher currently at Deerfield on exchange with Philosophy and Religion teacher Jan Flaska, explained that King’s adopted many of Deerfield’s traditions and features, such as sit-down meals, weekly school meetings, and promoting “critical thinking and looking at issues from a different lens” in and out of the classroom.
“King’s reflects the Western world and the Arab world,” said Mr. Mohammad. He was also amazed by how sincerely the King connected with the students upon his visits to campus: “He was speaking to them as if they were world leaders. He knows his vision and how he wants to implement it. Deerfield Academy played a pivotal role in the King’s life and will always have an impact on King’s Academy’s vision.”
Deerfield and King’s also keep their connection strong through many exchange opportunities for students. Two students from King’s joined the group of Deerfield students who traveled to Colombia in the summer of 2017. Dr. Curtis remarked that “having their perspective in this group was really enriching.”
King’s Academy holds a special place in the heart of Jada Howard ’19. She studies Arabic at Deerfield and wanted to further her understanding of the language and culture at King’s. She attended King’s for ten days during her freshman year as a part of a Deerfield Global Studies trip.
Howard said, “[King’s] has shaped my perspective of the world in the way that I feel that no matter where I am from, I share the same interests and dislikes as someone that lives on the other side of the world.”
To this day, Howard still keeps in touch with several friends she met at King’s. She gained a powerful new understanding: “Just because we live in different countries, with different time zones, or different perspectives on various topics shouldn’t prohibit us from being friends.”
In a congratulatory letter to Dr. John Austin, the current Head of School at King’s, Dr. Curtis wrote: “Deerfield is deeply proud to be the alma mater of His Majesty King Abdullah II. Among his many accomplishments, his focus on education is particularly meaningful to us because we share his mission of sending agents of hope and optimism into our untidy and conflicted world. King’s Academy is preparing global citizens for lives of engagement and leadership, acknowledging the importance of embracing complexity and nuance in world affairs.”
His Majesty King Abdullah II himself commented on his hopes for the future of King’s Academy, stating, “There is nothing more important than creating tomorrow’s good citizens. The need for young leaders will be even more important as the region goes forward from current conflicts and crises. Jordan has a central role in providing stability, strong values, and new ideas. Ten years from now, we will be looking back on seeds planted here at King’s Academy right now. All this is just the beginning.”
The whole Deerfield community congratulated King’s on ten years in a video taken at School Meeting. The school shouted “congratulations” in Arabic right before a banner was unfurled and Deerfield’s Arabic language students said a few more words.
Both Deerfield and King’s are schools with “a global perspective,” Dr. Curtis added. “Very few schools in the States have tight relationships to schools in that part of the world. I think that is unique to us.” Moving forward, Dr. Curtis hopes Deerfield will ensure that it keeps “the relationship very much alive and growing.”
Mabrook, King’s Academy!