Message from the Principal



Welcome to Gardens Secondary School,

KAUST is a special place in the Middle East and in the World. The focus on learning and innovation and the appreciation of diversity that pervades the University are reflected in our school. We feel privileged to be part of a community that is professional, ambitious dynamic and caring.

We offer a wide variety of courses that maintain rigor and student interest.  Optimal student-teacher ratios and in-class specialist support further help in providing opportunities for collaborative interactions in small groups where students are engaged in authentic inquiry and meaningful discussions.

The Secondary School students are also involved in a range of after-school activities such as athletics, clubs and social events. Many of the teams and clubs travel within the Kingdom and some clubs travel outside the Kingdom. There is an active and well organized Student Council that functions on behalf of the student body and has been key in establishing a positive culture within the school.

One of our many aims is to keep parents informed of their child’s educational journey. Each student is assigned an advisor who is the key contact for parents and provides a means for communication between the school and home.

Students and teachers feel at ease in the school and appreciate working with each other. The academic, social and emotional development of each student is monitored very carefully by advisors, counselors, teachers and administration. We work together closely with parents to ensure the best possible environment for our students.

We keep parents informed through the Student-Parent Handbook, Parent Newsletters, regular parent information sessions, parent teacher conferences, our school management system PowerSchool and our course management system Google Classroom. The school gains parent perspectives through regular meetings with the Parent Advisory Committee.

It is a pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful partnership of teachers, students, parents, and community members.

David Tigchelaar


Born in Kenya David Tigchelaar was schooled in The Netherlands, before gaining Master’s degrees in General Linguistics and Education from the country’s Utrecht University.

Starting his teaching career in elementary and secondary schools in The Netherlands, he went on to lecture at a teacher training college in Namibia, shortly after the country’s independence. David’s first venture into international education came as a classroom teacher at Windhoek International School in Namibia, before becoming the school’s PYP coordinator and Primary School Principal.

After his time in Africa, David undertook Primary School Principal roles at Bonn International School, Germany, and The International School of Azerbaijan in Baku. He then moved on to become the founding Head of School of the Ihsan Dogramaci Bilkent Erbil College in Iraqi Kurdistan, followed by Head of School roles at Bandung Independent School in Indonesia, and World Academy Tirana in Albania. In addition to these school-based roles, David has been an IB workshop leader since 2000. Internationally recognized for his extensive education leadership experience, he has also worked as chair of PYP, MYP and DP evaluation visits for the IB and has been member of authorization visits for the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

David joined KAUST in 2016 as our Secondary School Principal.