Richard Harris, is our new Middle School PE teacher who just joined us this year. He arrived in Egypt shortly before the start of the new school year, and immediately felt that this was the right choice. Harris’s athletic life began with his love for soccer and football, and a lifelong passion for watching every other sport possible. He has travelled the world pursuing a career in his passion for sports. Rich has spent three years in Doha, five years in London, and another three years in Saudi Arabia. After 11 fruitful years, he went back to the states with his wife. That was when the lure of overseas life beckoned and they started looking to explore other overseas opportunities. Soon enough, Rich and his wife were both very excited to find themselves heading to Egypt and becoming part of the CAC community.
The PE teacher explained that he first heard about the vacancy through online search platforms. When he saw our school name, he remembered hearing a lot of good remarks about the school, back when he was in Doha. Some of the current faculty members were also friends of Harris’s who he got in touch with for recommendations. Once again, CAC was highly recommended for its wonderful community.
“Before coming here, my wife and I were looking for a nice place overseas where we could stay for around 5 years. On the first day we arrived here, we knew we made the right decision,” said Rich.
He further added how welcomed he felt by the staff and faculty members who have been friendly and supportive, the parents who are receptive and welcoming, as well as the students who come from so many different places and backgrounds, and have so much to share with each other.
When we asked him about what he likes to do in his time outside of school, he said, “ I love the fact that there is so much to see, so much history, so much to do - I love playing golf and I was surprised to learn that I have several great options here to do that.”
Harris is originally from Oklahoma, United States, but has been an international educator moving around the world for a long time. One of the first sites he visited when he first came here was, of course, the Great Pyramids of Giza. He was fascinated by this place, which is one of the 7 wonders of the world. “Looking out from my apartment, I can sometimes see the Pyramids which is just incredible!” he added.
One of his best memories in the school so far was on his very first day of school. The first day of school happened to also be his birthday. He was very touched and heartened when all the middle-schoolers gathered in the lawn to sing Happy Birthday to him.
The family of two still have a great deal of exploring to do around the country. “We cannot wait to start exploring the Red Sea, perhaps soon in the winter break!” noted Harris. At CAC, we are always looking to hear back from our faculty and staff to learn more about how best to integrate them into our family, as we are after all, one family.
Penny Amies- Assistant ES Principal and PYP Coordinator
In light of moving the spotlight towards our dedicated faculty members, we interviewed our Assistant Vice Principal and PYP coordinator, Penny Amies. What is most interesting about Penny’s story is that she was with CAC for 6 years, then left for a couple of years, then decided to re-join the CAC family again .
Penny first joined CAC in 2013, where she spent six fruitful years of growth and development. Like most international educators, Penny is always on the lookout for new enriching experiences. For that purpose, she left in 2019 to pursue another opportunity in Jakarta, Indonesia. Two years later, Penny who was still in contact with her friends from CAC was asked if she would be interested in coming back for a recent vacancy that had just opened up.
Penny was more than happy about the prospect of going back to the school and country she had such great memories in. She applied for that vacancy and was able to re-join her old family at CAC.
“Egypt, it’s got everything. All the historical places are right there for you to visit. The people are so warm and easy to get along with. Especially as a foreigner, I have never really had too much trouble finding my way around the city, because everyone is always eager to help,” Penny added.
We asked her what, in her opinion, is the most important aspect about being a member of the CAC family, and her response was, “ The community. The school has this lovely culture of embracing people. I love being a part of this diverse community who are there for each other. Every place I’ve been to is different, but what makes CAC so special is that strong sense of supportive community.” Penny added that even though she came here on her own, she is still very grateful for being a part of a diverse and embracing family.
She first heard about the school when she was working abroad, with our current Elementary School Principal who told her about the vacancy in Egypt. “The school had a really good reputation among us, because it really is that. It’s a great school,” she noted. Another very important factor that has a big impact on her decision is safety. Penny explained to us that she loves how safe Egypt is. Our teachers are always housed in the area of Maadi. This is a beautiful area full of history, greenery, trees and lots of warm people. Most of our faculty and staff are easily able to walk to work every day.
When asked about the language barriers she might have faced here, she had this to say; “Not really, even though I can’t speak Arabic, I am fascinated by the language. I’ve got friends and neighbours who are always more than happy to help translate. It has never been much of a barrier for me.”
“One of the highlights of living in this neighbourhood is our Boab ( building janitor). Everyday he is happy to welcome me back home with his family, and we usually have a quick short English lesson, which feels really great!” she adds.
For resting and relaxation, Penny chooses to go to Aswan to decompress. She loves to spend a few days there every now and then to do some relaxation amid the sand and the Nile river. She has also tried the Nile cruise many times, especially when her family and friends are visiting. The Great Pyramids of Giza are one of many amazing sites that she loves to visit. It is always great to hear from our faculty and staff members to learn more about their lives, what they are looking for and how we can provide them with what they need to make their experience here easier and more enjoyable.
This article highlights another perspective of a current CAC teacher, who tells us all about her experience at CAC and in Egypt. Having just moved here with her family one year ago, Lorna Mills Ossman is a mother of 3 boys whose husband, Brian Ossman is also a Middle School Maths teacher at the school. The 3 boys also go to CAC.
Lorna is a Brit born in South Africa, who grew up between South Africa, Botswana, England, Chile and later on married a Minnesotan. She considers herself a third culture adult or more accurately a citizen of the world. One of Lorna’s goals is to give her boys the same open-minded worldly experience that she had growing up. “We had already heard a great deal about CAC through colleagues in Doha and Chile so when we started looking to relocate to Africa, Egypt and CAC were on top of our list,” she explains.
The two parents are now teachers at CAC, and the school was happy to welcome the Ossmann family. When we asked Lorna what, in her opinion, makes moving to Egypt and working at CAC so special, she responded; “The community. The very first thing that comes to my mind when I think about our decision to move here, is how amazing the CAC community is.” This year, Brian suffered an accident outside of work that led to him being hospitalized for a few days. “The principals' main concern was that we were okay as a family. Instead of focusing on who would be filling in Brian’s position, they knew we were professional enough to take care of that, instead they put our wellbeing first,” she added.
The kids, who were studying Ancient Egyptian Civilization, were super excited when they learned that they would be moving to Egypt. They wanted to go visit all the incredible historical sites that they had been learning about.
Their first year at CAC was very different from this year, as they came to Egypt in 2020. Last year, the school (as well as the government in general) had very strict mitigation measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. For this reason, this year feels like their first year as their kids can now go to school every day and meet their friends and even travel around and explore the country.
Naturally, one of the very first trips they took was to the Great Pyramids of Giza. The family had a blast, and Lorna distinctly recalls how fascinating it was to go inside one of the pyramids. While they were excited to come to Egypt, still the outcome has so far exceeded their expectations. As they started travelling more around the country, and discovering their soon to be favorite spots.
“After we went to the Pyramids, the children were ecstatic. Later on in the year, we were able to visit Sharm el Sheikh, which they enjoyed so much. They started calling up their friends who live abroad and telling them all about their trips and visits here,” added Lorna.
“Basically, CAC is the first school that I have been to, where it is all about the wellness of the students, the teachers and the parents,” she noted. This kind of family bonding is what CAC prides itself on. Our community is a family, bringing together people from all over the world, and providing them a family, a home and a place to work and grow.