School Leaders

Jeff Smith, Director at Dunecrest American School in Dubai


Jeff Smith
School Director

Jeff Smith joins Dunecrest American School with over 18 years of leadership experience in international education, and a solid track record of spearheading high-performing school teams towards successful and sustainable growth and advancement. With a firm belief that the most important person in a school is the student, and the most important asset is the teacher, Jeff strongly advocates the importance of a positive school culture that strives to help all students and staff find success. Jeff is also a strong proponent of STEAM as an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning approach that encourages critical thinking, collaboration and creativity to solve real-world problems.

With a love of the Middle East and a close understanding of the local culture, Jeff brings with him an unparalleled knowledge of the UAE education sector. His appointment at Dunecrest marks his return to the Esol Education family, having served as Director of Esol’s Deira International School in Dubai from 2011 to 2018. During his tenure there, his focus on rigorous assessment, the quality of teaching and learning and staff leadership development was fundamental to the school being recognized by Dubai’s Knowledge & Human Development Authority (KHDA) with an impressive number of outstanding features.

Originally from Manchester, United Kingdom, Jeff served in the British Army for 10 years. He then embarked on his career in education, commencing as a Physics teacher, progressing into leadership as Head of Science and Deputy Headteacher. He moved overseas to Indonesia for his first school leadership position in 2003, as Head of School at a leading international school in Jakarta, after which he led the Guernsey Grammar School, Channel Islands, where he introduced the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP).  Most recently, Mr. Smith has held positions as Executive Headteacher at the British School Bahrain and Principal of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in the UK.

Jeff holds a Master’s degree in International Education from The University of Leicester. In addition to his leadership and academic background, he is an enthusiast of the performing and creative arts, and a keen sportsman, with experience of a wide range of extra-curricular outdoor pursuits including Duke of Edinburgh and Mountain Leadership. Jeff is married to Heather and they have three children, Helen 30, Joseph 28 and Elliot 24 who are all in the medical profession. They are also blessed with two grandchildren, Sebastian 5 and Lani 2.

Mr. Patrick Hould, Dunecrest's Secondary School Principal

Patrick Hould
Secondary School Principal

Mr. Hould received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from Eastern Montana College and his Master of Education Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Montana. Mr. Hould's professional vision is to build a caring community for learning. He works hard to help every student reach their full potential and to make them feel valued and welcome. He started his career in Montana where he was a Band Director and Principal at both Middle Schools and High Schools. In 2012, Mr. Hould joined Esol Education Schools as Principal of the American International School in Egypt. He moved to Dubai in 2013 working with Esol Education Schools here and he was the Founding Secondary School Principal of Dunecrest American School. He is the recipient of the prestigious G.V. Erickson Award for his outstanding contribution to education in Montana and he was a founding Board Member of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. 

Ms. Lisa Gibson, Elementary School Principal

Lisa Gibson
Elementary School Principal

Ms. Gibson received her Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Victoria. In addition, she has qualifications through the British Columbia College. She has a wealth of certifications from the International Baccalaureate (IB) organization and was instrumental in guiding Dunecrest to our IB accreditation. Ms. Gibson started her teaching career in London, England and has held international teaching and leadership positions in Canada, Venezuela, and Dubai as well. She joined our team at Esol Education in 2013 and has been with us to her present position at Dunecrest American School where she is the Founding Principal of the Elementary School as well as the PreK-12 Curriculum Coordinator. Ms. Gibson is a NWEA Certified Trainer and travels the world helping schools interpret and develop improvement plans for their MAP testing data. She is committed to excellence in all areas of education and student success.

Ms. Cristal Hanna, Early Childhood Center Coordinator

Crystal Hanna
Early Childhood Principal

Ms. Hanna received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Special Education and Elementary Convocation. She started her teaching career in Greece where she taught English speaking children in an elementary setting as well as she taught private English lessons to ESL students. She then moved to Abu Dhabi where she became a Grade Level Coordinator, leading her team to meet the expected curriculum standards of all core subjects. In 1992, Ms. Hanna had her first teaching experience in Dubai where she has enjoyed the culture and vibrance of the community so much she continues working here today. Crystal has been a member of the Esol Education Team since 2004 and she was the Founding Early Childhood Principal of Dunecrest American School. Ms. Hanna believes that education is vital to establishing a strong foundation on which understanding is based. She guides students in developing the skills and knowledge necessary to become mature, contributing members of society. 

Dylan Carter, Secondary Assistant Principal

Dylan Carter
Secondary Assistant Principal

Mr. Carter received his Bachelor Degree from Brock University in Canada and his Master Degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand as well as a Master Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Iowa in the U.S.A. Mr. Carter has lived the life of an international student graduating high school from Jakarta International School in Indonesia. Mr. Carter has taught at international schools in New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, and the U.A.E. In 2012, Mr. Carter joined Esol Education at our schools in Dubai and in 2018 because a founding administrator at Dunecrest American School. Mr. Carter enjoys playing soccer, rugby and scuba diving and he has presented several workshops to schools around the world. He has taught in grades 1 to 12 and works to develop literacy skills for all students.