Israel and UAE Air Forces Fly Side by Side in Greek Air Drill

The conflict between Israel and the many Arab nations has been ongoing since the Jewish state officially came into existence in 1948. But there could be a thaw in relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is most evident with the air forces of the two countries.

Both countries contributed planes to Iniohos 2017, an annual multi-national exercise put on by the Hellenic Air Force. IAF pilots said this type of exercise gives them the opportunity to conduct flight operations in conditions and geography they are not used to in their native land. They also must learn to work with air forces from other nations– not only the UAE and Greece, but the United States and Italy as well. It also aids the Israeli pilots in learning to speak with pilots and personnel from other nations in a language other than Hebrew.

While Israeli and Arab pilots flying together for a joint exercise may seem unique to many, it is not anything new to these two nations. Israel and the UAE sent aircraft and personnel to the Iniohos exercise in 2016. Both nations also flew together at the U.S. Air Force’s annual Red Flag exercise in Nevada last year, which also included a contingent from Pakistan’s air force.

Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations, but many in the Israeli Defense Forces say there has been an improvement in their country’s relations with the Gulf States. This is evidenced by a visit from an Israeli Foreign Ministry official to Bahrain last year, who announced the establishment of the first diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi, which is part of the United Arab Emirates.

Along with aerial combat drills, other aspects of Iniohos 2017 included parachuting troops deep behind enemy lines, aerial refueling, and avoiding surface-to-air missile defenses. Of note is that the Israeli and UAE air forces operate some of the same aircraft and equipment. Pilots in both nations fly U.S. made F-16 jet fighters and C-130 transports.

First Female Head of School at St. George’s

Alexandra “Alixe” Callen will take over as the 12th Head of School at St. George in Middletown, Rhode Island on July 1, 2016. The announcement was made on behalf of the school’s Board of Trustees on December 9, 2016. Alixe will leave her current position as the upper school director at Lakeside School in Seattle to return to her New England Roots and become the first female head of St. George.

Alixe Callen has a long and distinguished academic background and professional educational leadership in both public and private schools. She graduated from Milton Academy in Milton, MA, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, and has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she worked as an assistant in graduate courses on secondary school design, school reform, and school leadership. Prior to her current position at Lakeside, she was the principal of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School from 2008-2013 and assistant principal of Needham High School from 2004-2008. Both schools are in Massachusetts.

Alixe’s has family ties to St. George that go back over 100 years. Her great-grandfather graduated from St. George in 1903, her grandfather graduated in 1941, her great-uncle graduated in 1940, and her uncle graduated in 1966. There were many exceptional candidates who applied to become the 12th Head of School St. George, but Alixe’s qualifications, experience, and ties to the area stood out to St. George’s search committee, which was made up of trustees, parents, faculty, and alumni.

Members of the search committee expressed their confidence that Alixe will continue St. George’s commitment to the school’s traditions and academic innovation. The search committee also thanked the outgoing Head of School Eric Peterson and his wife Krista for their 12 years of service and leadership. Alixe is humbled and proud to be a part of a school that means so much to her and her family.


NC State University’s Tyler Confrey-Maloney Study Abroad Grant

Started in 2014, the Tyler Confrey-Maloney Study Abroad Grant is an endowment for students attending North Carolina State University. The endowment is available for Park Scholarship program scholars and was started by Dr. Jere Confrey and Dr. Alan Maloney, parents of 2013 NC State University graduate Tyler Confrey-Maloney who developed date rape prevention product, Undercover Colors, along with three other classmates.

The Park Scholarship program is named for the late Roy H. Park who is a 1931 graduate of NC State University. The program was started in 1996 and is dedicated to education, media and an understanding of the environment. It is a four-year scholarship valued at up to $107,000 for in-state students and up to $186,000 for out-of-state students. Since its inception, the program has seen 17 classes of Park students graduate from the University.

Dr. Confrey and Dr. Maloney were so happy with the impact that traveling abroad had on their son while he was a Park student at the University, they decided to contribute an endowment to ensure other students had the opportunity for travel. While studying at the university Confrey-Maloney traveled to South Africa and Belize. Upon returning from Belize, Confrey-Maloney started to advise other Park students about his experiences and persuaded them to pursue service-learning trips to the country.

In what would have been his junior year, Confrey-Maloney opted out of the Park scholarship to travel to South Africa. While there he furthered his interest in leadership development, photography and environmental preservation. Tyler served as program director for the inaugural TEDxTableMountain, and was able to intern at both the Biomimicry Institute in Cape Town and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit. He was able to use the relationships he made with the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to persuade six Park scholars to take summer internships there.

Confrey-Maloney graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. His parents contributed much of Tyler’s development and positive experiences to traveling abroad and learning the ways of different cultures. Dr. Confrey said that she and Maloney “felt that since we saved money as Park parents, we would like to contribute an endowment to support other Park Scholars to study abroad as Tyler did. This is our first philanthropic contribution of this kind.”.

St. George’s Names Callen to Lead School

Alixe Callen was named as the 12th head of school at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island. Callen’s family has a long history with the prestigious school and she will be the first female to hold the post.

Callen was chosen from a field of over 150 candidates and she currently serves as the upper school director of Lakeside School in Seattle. After St. George’s Board of Directors made their decision, they presented her to the school community at a special introduction ceremony on Dec. 9th. Alixe Callen is excited about her new position and said, “My entire career has been spent helping teenagers to be kind, to watch out for each other, and to be contributing community members. To now do that work in a school that has such deep roots for my family makes me humble and proud.”

Callen attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Brown University. She later earned another master’s and a Ph.D. from Harvard. She studied and assisted in graduate level courses about school leadership, school reform, and school design.

Callen also served as the Principal at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Massachusetts. Before that, she was an assistant principal of Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts. Callens great-grandfather, grandfather, great-uncle, and uncle were all graduates of St. George’s over a time period spanning 1903 to 1966.

The search committee praised Callen as the best candidate for the job, she was chosen from a field of educational executives, including several deans of colleges. They said she best fits their vision for the school and is the perfect addition to their community. The school’s trustees released a statement, “We are confident that Callen will steer the course boldly for St. George’s, continuing to build on our longstanding strengths while at the same time moving St. George’s confidently into the future. She is fully prepared and eager to build upon our forward-thinking curriculum, to foster our safe and welcoming community, and to support our teachers in continually expanding their expertise in teaching and learning.”

Callen will replace Eric Peterson. Peterson headed the school for the past 13 years and announced he would not seek the position for the upcoming school year. The school began a nationwide search for his replacement.

Boarding Schools Offer Great Opportunity for Students

Many people in the United States never consider sending their child to boarding school; however, statistics are showing that this maybe a good option for keeping a child in a happy and safe environment that promotes education. According to, students at a boarding school spend more time studying, playing music, reading and doing sports than their private school or public school counterparts. In the same respect, seventy-five percent of boarding school students feel their peers are motivated versus forty-nine percent of public school students. These statistics only tell part of the story, though. Boarding schools can open doors for students and create new styles of learners. Here are some great examples, in addition to St. George’s School under the leadership of Eric F. Peterson:
Phillips Exeter Academy, the number one according to, believes in a learning style where the students and the instructor sit round table and freely discuss the subjects at hand. Their school has a nineteen percent acceptance rate and an endowment that is more than most universities.
Shattuck-St.Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota helps students to learn at their own pace. The juniors and seniors there meet twice a week, allowing for the students to pursue their interests outside of the classroom. Pursuing those interests is even easier, as the school has rooms with equipment to learn everything from video editing to fashion design.
Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio boasts small classroom sizes of twelve to one. Many of these students go on to Universities such as Duke, Northwestern, and University of California at Berkeley.
The Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut is an all-girls school that promotes “substance over superficialities”. They have a focus program called WISE that stands for Women in Science and Engineering that sends many of their graduates to MIT and Carnegie Mellon.
Three hundred and fifteen miles away is North Bethesda, Maryland where the oldest Jesuit school Georgetown Prep is. Host to an all-boys boarding school, they focus on opportunities for growth through sports, publications, and extra-curricular activities.
Each of these schools has many things that make their school special. Sending a child away to high school is a tough decision for many parents but giving a child the promise of a great future might make that decision a little easier.


Americans to Spread Holiday Cheer by Spending More Money and Shopping on Mobile This Year

The holidays may still seem a distant way out, but Americans are already crossing items off of their shopping lists. In fact, as of end-of-September, one-third (33%) of consumers say they have already started their holiday shopping, up significantly from 25% in 2015, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

When it comes to gifts, Americans expect to spend an average of $908, an 8% increase from last year ($839 in 2015), and among affluent consumers, the expected gift spend increases to an average of $1,513.

Across the board, the most popular gifts to give this year are:

  • Gift cards (52% vs. 57% in 2015)
  • Clothing and accessories (51% vs. 47% in 2015)
  • Toys and games (50% vs. 44% in 2015)

“While consumers are spending more money on gifts this year, they are becoming savvier with how they spend their time shopping,” said Kartik Mani, Executive Vice President of Global Consumer Lending at American Express. “With our constant connection to technology, more Americans than ever before are using their mobile devices to help them make holiday purchases.”

More than 3 in 4 Americans (76%) are turning to their mobile devices for their holiday shopping, whether to browse, compare prices or view deals (vs. 58% in 2015). There has also been a significant increase (62%) in Americans planning to purchase and/or redeem e-gift cards on mobile devices this year (26% vs. 16% in 2015).

Read more here.