Sean Areias, Head of School

Dr. Sean Areias is passionate about learning and leadership. He is particularly enthusiastic about preparing students to make a positive impact in our rapidly changing world and thriving in an unknown future. In recent years, he has dedicated efforts towards improving child safeguarding practices and enhancing teacher leadership opportunities in international schools.

Sean has been an educator for nearly three decades, the last twenty-two years in international schools in Mexico, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. He is originally from California, USA where he started his education career as a primary school teacher assistant while studying at the university level. He was immediately hooked into the education field by seeing kids’ excitement for questioning and learning. Since then, he has held a variety of EC-12 teaching and administrative roles.

He possesses a BA in Liberal Arts from the University of San Diego, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction (with an emphasis in Bilingual Education) also from the University of San Diego, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University.

Outside of school life, Sean dedicates most of his time to his family. He is joined by his wife, Imelda, an early childhood teacher, and his three children. They enjoy several pastimes together including outdoor activities, sports and traveling.


Roula H. Ismail, Head of Primary

Roula Haj-Ismail spent her formative years in Australia and holds a BA in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Sydney, and a MA in Philosophy from the American University of Beirut, where she began her teaching career. She is currently studying for her Doctor of Education (Ed.D) with Bath University. Roula Haj-Ismail is a highly experienced and accomplished IB educator, with 30 years of involvement with good international schools in Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. She has worked as an IB PYP Coordinator and has been an IB workshop leader for PYP as well as Cross Programmes and school visitor and evaluator for over 15 years. For the IB she develops curriculum, webinars, and test reads documentation.

She has presented sessions at IB Global Conference and other educational conferences like NESA. Roula has a background in visual and performance art, which she brings to bear in her leadership and teaching. She has developed and performed art pieces and videos at art festivals in Europe, USA, and locally. Roula enjoys art, media literacy, music, and cross-country skiing. 


Leigh Anne Toler, Head of Middle School

Leigh Anne attended Texas A&M University for a B.S. in Geography and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She earned her Teachers' Training Center (TTC) Certificate of International School Teacher Leadership, and completed her final Principals' Training Center (PTC) course this summer to earn the PTC Certificate of International School Leadership. She was the Upper Years Leader and Academic Coordinator at the British School of Brussels. Before this role, she served in other divisional and whole school learning leadership positions in international schools in Uganda, Lebanon, and Russia. As an educator, she is passionate about school culture and systems-building, global citizenship, transition support within highly mobile school communities, and fostering learner agency. She is an avid baseball fan and loves coffee, puzzles, movie nights, and baking! Leigh Anne is thrilled to have joined the ISL Qatar community!


Jim Heister, Head of High School

Jim Heister has a B.S. degree in Mathematics and an M.Ed degree in Leadership. In 2021, he completed the comprehensive Certificate in School Management and Leadership program through the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His educational journey began as a classroom teacher. Following his desire and ability to lead others, he has held many roles such as Head of Department, Dean of Students, Mentor Teacher, Tech Integrationist, and STEM Program Co-Author. Additionally, he has been the Mentor Program Co-Author and Coordinator, Community Time Coordinator, Grade Level Leader, Internship Coordinator, and High School Deputy Principal.

Jim Heister is devoted to fair and accurate assessment that supports accurate data for teachers and ensures inclusive and equitable practices for learners. This is evidenced through his presentations at the Pearson Assessment Institute, the AASSA Educators conference, and the iNNOVATE Educators Conference. He has also led full-faculty professional development around Assessment For, Of, and As Learning for Escola Eleva in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Leadership & Culture for the New English Private School system here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He is a dynamic and mindful leader whose greatest strengths lie in adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, and relational trust-building. Through these, he promotes a culture of mutual accountability and distributed leadership.

He likes to maintain a healthy work-personal life balance. Outside of school, he enjoys reading, hiking, biking, SCUBA diving, and playing team sports. Also, he has coached American football, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, and track & field.


Joanne Gillan, Director of Learning, Analytics and Innovation

Joanne Gillan holds a bachelor's degree in Primary Education, with a specialization in Mathematics, and a master's degree in Educational Leadership and Management.

Originally from the UK, Joanne has an extensive teaching background, with experience in various international locations including England, France, Japan, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Qatar.

Beyond the classroom, Joanne is known for her enthusiasm for water sports, particularly Stand-Up Paddle-boarding and Scuba Diving. In the current year, her personal goals include completing a Triathlon and furthering her proficiency in the Arabic language.

Joanne Gillan strongly advocates for the empowerment of both students and teachers, actively encouraging individuals to explore their personal passions, ambitions, and unique potential. She inspires them to set their goals for learning and personal development.


Dounia Slaoui, Head of Operations

Dounia is the Head of Operations at ISL Qatar. In her current role, Dounia oversees critical aspects of our school's functioning, from operational matters to the professional development of non-academic staff. She plays a pivotal role in budgeting projection and cost-effective management to foster an efficient work environment. Her fluency in Arabic, French, and English offers a valuable advantage in our diverse educational setting at ISL Qatar. Dounia's journey began with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Ben M'sik University in Casablanca, Morocco.

Currently, Dounia is writing her dissertation for an MBA in Operations Management from the University of Salford. She initially embarked on a career in education while still studying, teaching, and translating. Over the last decade, Dounia's contributions to ISL Qatar have spanned various departments and areas, benefiting from her strong leadership skills.