ABU DHABI // There is one person at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi who knows more about its history than anyone else: primary schoolteacher Josephine G Nabti, who has taught here for 22 years.
Ms Nabti, the longest-serving teacher at the school, will retire at the end of this year and return home to the US.
"Why have I worked so long? Well, I've always said when I stop laughing is when I stop," said the 62-year-old, fighting back tears while speaking about her time at the school.
"Every day, there has been a new discovery in this classroom. That moment when a child first realises they can read, it's a light-bulb moment - priceless.
"To me it's like they are saying: so this is what the lady was trying to make me do all along," she laughed.
The mother of two, who says she "can never remember dates", moved to Abu Dhabi in the early 90s.
"We always wanted our children to study at an American school and I found this one to be the only 'real' American school in the capital," she said.
Her children graduated in 1997 and 2001. It took her a while to get the job she wanted teaching kindergarten at the school because, at the time, it was thought expatriates were not dependable hires. "They believed that we would leave soon," she grinned. "Well, I am still here and have seen six superintendents come and go."
When Mrs Nabti talks about the changes she has seen, she's most impressed by how the programme taught to young pupils has evolved.
"It started off with kindergarten pupils singing, but now they are expected to read and write from that age," she said.
As the school has grown, she says she has come to miss the camaraderie and social interaction that was possible when the community was small.
"We used to have lunch together and even hosted a great holiday bazaar which was open to other schools and people."
As Ms Nabti packs her supplies and hands over the responsibility to the next teacher, she hopes they get to enjoy the same experiences that shaped her career.
"With young children it's about having fun and enjoying every moment. These children look up to you. They listen and respect everything you say."