RFS Appoints New Principal at Upper School

With its rich heritage and history of pioneering new approaches to education, the Friends Schools should lead the discourse on Palestinian education—together we can make sure it does.

The Ramallah Friends school Board of Trustees and Friends United Meeting have the pleasure to announce that Dr. Riyam Kafri Abu Laban has been appointed as Upper School Principal at RFS.

Riyam is not new to the Ramallah Friends School Community; she is a graduate of the school as well as a “lifer”, having spent her entire academic life at RFS, starting with Kindergarten. Riyam is an experienced academician who brings a wealth of diverse experiences in educational leadership and administration. After experimenting with pharmaceutical research for nearly two years, Riyam discovered her passion for teaching when she transitioned into the world of academia as a founding faculty member at the AlQuds Bard College for Liberal Arts and Sciences at Al Quds University in Jerusalem.

For six years there, Riyam played an instrumental role addressing many challenges of a nascent institution and her work extended well beyond teaching Chemistry to include curriculum development and accreditation, student recruitment, student life, parents-college relations, college branding, faculty development and recruitment. Riyam also worked as a researcher at the A.M Qattan Foundation focusing on the use of botanical gardens as educational space and is already thinking of ways of further engaging RFS students in environmental and agricultural inquiry. Stemming from her passion for writing, community engagement and activism Riyam has also been the Content Editor of This Week in Palestine, a popular printed and online monthly magazine focusing on Palestinian culture.

Riyam shared the following upon starting at RFS:

I aspire to serve the Friends School community; students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni to the best of my ability and under the umbrella of Quaker values of respect, tolerance, equality and service. I am here to offer the support and empowerment teachers need to become the best intellectual leaders they can be. Together with teachers, I hope we can continue to transform our classrooms into student centered learning hubs so that our students can seek their knowledge and receive the finest education they can get. I look forward to engaging with parents and to finding areas of cooperation that serve the school’s best interest, and I seek support from those who know the school best and are the articulation of its legacy, my fellow RFS alumni; it is time to come home! With its rich heritage and history of pioneering new approaches to education, the Friends Schools should lead the discourse on Palestinian education—together we can make sure it does.

Following her graduation from RFS in 1996, Riyam enrolled at Earlham College—a sister Quaker institution in Indiana—where she earned her B.S. degree in Chemistry in 2000. Riyam pursued her graduate studies and obtained her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2008.

As a seasoned professional who is committed to RFS’s Quaker traditions and values, Riyam will work together with an already impressive community of staff, teachers and students to further plan and implement a progressive student-centered International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Her passion, warm personality, leadership skills and unquestionable integrity will lead RFS into the next chapter of its already phenomenal history.

The Ramallah Friends School is honored to welcome Riyam Kafri AbuLaban and her husband Ahmed AbuLaban and their children Taima and Basil to our community. Riyam officially commenced her work at RFS on the 1st of August 2015.