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GEMS Education celebrated 44 of its most outstanding teachers in the third annual Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS during a red-carpet event held at GEMS World Academy – Dubai in the evening of 4 October 2018. Among those present on the occasion were Fatma Ghanim Al Marri, Member of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer for the Development of Emirati Student Education Programmes at KHDA.

Coinciding with International World Teachers Day on 5 October, the event, which aims to shine the spotlight on the teaching profession, saw five teachers awarded across five categories, with cash prizes totalling AED 570,000.

Dino Varkey, Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “Our teachers are our most prized assets, and the Mariamma Varkey Award is our way of recognising and celebrating the truly remarkable things they do day in, day out. Passionate, dedicated educators, they are empowering and inspiring our students through their work, selflessly facilitating and accelerating the development and growth of youth across the UAE. In this way, they are shaping the future of not just our younger generations, but also the world as a whole, instilling the ethics and values necessary for our children to be the leaders of tomorrow, and laying the foundations for individual and collective success.

“The Mariamma Varkey Award is particularly close to my heart, as it reflects the high standards set by my grandmother when she first arrived in Dubai as a teacher 60 years ago. It is largely thanks to her efforts and unwavering vision that GEMS Education is what it is today, and it gives us great pleasure to host this special award in her honour.”

Already recognised through the GEMS Teacher of the Month awards at their respective schools, the 44 finalists were put forward for awards across five categories including ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’, ‘Early Years Teaching’, ‘Primary Years Teaching’, ‘Secondary Years Teaching’ and ‘Arabic and Islamic’ – a new entry for 2018.

Luke Oung from Cambridge International School – Dubai was declared the winner of the ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’ award and received a cash prize of AED 220,200 (US$60,000).

On receiving the prize Luke said: “It still hasn’t quite sunk in to have won this fantastic award, my students were all crossing their fingers for me. I can’t wait to tell them, it really is an honour to have been recognised on such a large scale.”

Katrina Hansen from GEMS United School – Dubai Motor City won the ‘Early and Primary Years’ award, while Rachael Parkinson from GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail received the award in the ‘Secondary Years’ category. The ‘Inclusion’ award was handed to Faith Fauchelle from GEMS Royal Dubai School, and Rayan Safi-Harb from GEMS World Academy – Abu Dhabi was honoured with the ‘Arabic and Islamic’ award. Each winner received AED 88,080 (US$24,000) as a cash prize along with a citation.

Finalists were nominated based on specific criteria and had to demonstrate a remarkable impact upon their students and the wider community, while also employing pioneering, creative, inclusive and innovative pedagogical practices that engage and challenge students in their learning. In addition, nominated teachers had to be reflective practitioners who continue to inspire and motivate students and colleagues while engaging parents in the progress of their children’s learning.