Maria Portilla - PADIA President

Maria and her family moved to Dubai in July 2017 to start the next chapter in their 20 year expat career. She oversees our Parent Association and supports other projects as well as attending Advisory Council meetings. 

Prior to moving to Dubai, Maria was always involved in Parent Teacher Associations in IB Schools overseeing Treasury or as VP of the Parent Teacher Association of the International School of Amsterdam.  

Maria holds a B.A. in Economics Sciences and Lic. in Business Administration from UFM Guatemala, a D. In Economic Processes FEE New York and a MSc. In Behavioral Economics qualification from UvA Amsterdam. 

She holds numerous roles including Financial Advisor in the Board of Directors of Vassaux Pharmaceuticals.

Maria is also a Modern Abstract Artist who has been featured in the book ‘Women Artists around the world 2019’. Her artwork has been in exhibitions in Guatemala, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Basel, and Dubai.  Maria and Alejandro Portilla have 2 kids at DIA. Sofia in year 12 and Mariano in year 6.

Lara Danisman - Year 10

Never stop improving yourself. It sounds quite vague and unimportant but it’s true. Take it from me, when I first came to this school, it took me a while to understand what my teachers expected of me and how to make effective improvements to myself academically. Even after I improved my grades, I came to the realisation that this didn’t satisfy me and learnt from personal experience that there is so much more to school, and life in general. Improvement, and trying new things is key to not lose interest in school. This is one of the reasons why DIA really helps prepare us for real life. Your grades can secure you a decent job, but that job will not give you many opportunities for growth. You’ll just be one of many employees in a firm which gives you directives on what to do.

If you want to make an impact on this world, you have to develop other skills such as communication, public speaking, persuasion, and many more, to take charge and make your dreams come true and focus on what you want in life. This is why I take part in many clubs and leadership opportunities such as MUN, Water for Life, Student Council and Business Minds. These are a few of the many activities DIA has to offer.

Asha Sampath Kumar - MYP/DP Math Teacher

Hello, I am Asha Sampath Kumar and have been with DIA since 2007, teaching MYP/DP Math. Having chartered many crews of students to multiple Math Olympiads across the world, I am always on the lookout for new avenues where my students can shine! When not helping students navigate the rough seas of integral calculus or differentiating complex equations, I love to zip line from port to starboard on adventure courses, having chaperoned multiple student crews on Himalayan adventures and beyond. A classically trained and accomplished singer – I always like to ensure my crew is "in sync" with their syllabus and shipshape!

Mantika Harish - Year 11

Since I was a student in kindergarten, DIA’s warm community has shaped me to become the hardworking, determined, approachable individual person I am today. With its friendly, holistic, and welcoming atmosphere, DIA nurtured me to become an all-rounder who is passionate from academics to extra curriculars. I have been a consistent academic achiever throughout my school years and am looking forward to improving it further as I approach my Diploma Programme. Being part of a large number of extra curriculars like sports teams and leadership roles, and still achieving academic success is something that can be difficult to balance; with the help of both my teachers and my peers, I am able to overcome any obstacles I face.

The atmosphere of DIA is such that I am able take part in the Student Council, captain the Netball team, and work with students from different year groups in school clubs like ‘Interact’ and ‘The Eco Club’. DIA caters to plenty of fields of interests towards each student; and there are no limits to the initiatives we take. Every school day, I am able to undertake challenging endeavours in the fields I am curious about, whether it is subject specific, or abstract concepts in itself. The approachable, joyful and inspiring teachers in DIA help me reach the best of my abilities and reflect, aiding each student to flourish as an individual. DIA is my home away from home, and is a place where learning never stops. No matter where I am, the lessons learnt at DIA will forever be cherished.

Barbara Timlin - DP and MYP Biology Subject Leader, MYP Years 7-9 Subject Leader

This is my 5th year with DIA as part of the Science team. I am also part of the Competitive Sports program here at DIA as a Football, Athletics and Rounders’ coach.

Ayush Walia - Year 12 Student Council Chairperson

Throughout my high school career, DIA has provided me with a platform to balance my academics as well as my extra-curricular activities. With the rigor that the IB program demands, it is important that we take part in different activities in order to explore ourselves and further enhance our personality. I had the opportunity to serve as the Varsity Cricket Team captain for the DIA WOLVES cricket team. Alongside that, I also served as the Vice-Chair Person of the Student Council team and the Secretary-General of DIAMUN 2019.

When it comes to leading a team, it is important that we not only consider what's best for the club but also consider how to make each member of the team collaborate successfully. With my position in each of the clubs, I had to make sure to be a good listener and communicator so that I could further implement all the ideas to enhance our school’s environment. DIA not only encourages us to lead these clubs but also encourages us to make a significant change.

With the help of DIA, I had the opportunity to implement the first online application at our MUN conference. Not only did this improve DIAMUN’s image, but it allowed me to learn a plethora of new skills that I can now implement in different areas of my life. Taking part and taking initiative is very important when it comes to developing a personality and I think that DIA has supported me to great heights in order to develop my persona.

Pam Parasram - Diploma Coordinator at Dubai International Academy

I joined Dubai International Academy in 2008 as an English teacher and Theory of Knowledge Coordinator. I was appointed Head of Department - English in 2009 and ran an Outstanding department for 6 years. I have been on the schools lead practitioners mentoring programme to working within DIA and other Innoventures schools to lead, mentor and support best teaching practice. In 2016, I was appointed Diploma Coordinator for a cohort of 325+ DP students. I continue to support students with subject selection linked to their further studies at university, mentoring of student’s attainment and progress in the DP and work closely with the Senior Management team in the day to day running of the school. I also work for the IB, being an English examiner for both the Language and Literature and Literature courses.

It is a privilege to work alongside such diverse and talented DIA staff members who have time and time again always put their student’s first, often going beyond the call of duty; they continue to strive for the best possible outcomes for our students. This school is remarkable in its drive to grow stronger in its commitment towards our students each day. Both my sons are testament to this; having graduated from DIA they have gone on to achieve degrees in Public Health and Allied Health Sciences – Physical therapy from Europe and the US. I cannot think of a better environment for a child to prepare themselves for the demands of life and work in the 21st century. For me, that is truly outstanding.

Reena Tikku - Subject Leader - Individuals and Societies DP, EE Coordinator

I joined DIA in August 2010 and my journey so far has been enlightening. When I joined, I was completely new to the IB and now I fully understand and appreciate the IB philosophy. I have learnt a lot in my time here and have grown both personally and professionally. The best aspect of DIA is the students – they are just amazing academically and personally. They are very enthusiastic learners; are resilient in the face of adversity; interact openly and honestly with the teachers; very protective of their peers and are overall really good people. I thoroughly enjoy teaching them and getting to know them.

Rosana Murillo - IB MYP/DP Spanish Teacher, MFL Department

Language acquisition is a crucial aspect of the IB curriculum as it connects students with other people’s cultures and perspectives. In my lessons, I always strive to create a student-centered learning environment where I incorporate language in real life situations in order to develop students’ communication skills to the fullest.

Culture practices and values also play an important role in the subject and are explored by exposing students to authentic materials: from songs and video clips to street signs or real text messages. Teaching Spanish at DIA allows me to do what I am passionate about: sharing my language and my culture and open a new window for my students to embrace the richness of our diversity as world citizens.

Burger Family

Having been in Dubai for nearly 11 years and being a teacher myself, we were well aware of which type of school we were looking for – Internationalism being at the top at our list. We are happy to acknowledge we have found the perfect school showcasing this from when you walk into the school, meeting the parents and students to the environment in the classrooms.

With DIA being an IB school it supports an environment where my child could be herself and express herself freely without any fear, equal emphasis on studies, sports, drama and music, an open atmosphere where input from parents is encouraged and of course skilled teachers who could give our children the support required to excel. We were willing to settle for getting a few of our requirements fulfilled and sacrificing a few but to our delight we found all that we were looking for at Dubai International Academy.

The staff demonstrates high levels of passion and professionalism. They are all kind, courteous, graceful, respectful, and lifelong learners themselves. They work tirelessly to set ideal and real examples for the children to explore and discover as this is an important step to understanding, gaining skills and acquiring knowledge.

I see many changes in both my children, the most noticeable one being that both of them have grown immensely in self-confidence. They experiment and thrive on new challenges and are enjoying doing new and varied activities every day.

We walked in, loved it… and here we are!