Reading Time: 2 minutes

GEMS Education celebrated 44 outstanding teachers in the second annual Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS. Coinciding with the International World Teachers Day on October 5, this year, five of these GEMS teachers were recognised with best teacher awards in different categories.

A highlight of the ceremony was the ‘Special Education Teaching’ award which recognised the exceptional work done by a teacher to integrate and encourage children with special needs into mainstream education.

Dino Varkey, Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “The future of the UAE is currently taking shape inside the classrooms, through the work of our teachers. They are more than just educators, they are mentors and heroes to their students. Teachers empower students, they instil the values and ethics necessary for our children to be the leaders of tomorrow. Through these awards, we seek to acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of our teachers at every section of the school.

The Mariamma Varkey Award is very special and close to our hearts as it is a direct reflection of the high standards my grandmother set when she founded GEMS Education’s first school in Dubai.”

Already recognised with the GEMS Teacher of the Month awards at their respective schools, the Finalists were broadly classified under five categories – ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’, ‘Early Years Teaching’, ‘Primary Years Teaching’, ‘Secondary Years Teaching’ and ‘Special Education Teaching’.

Sharon Robertson from GEMS Wellington Primary School won the award for ‘Early Years Teaching’ while Anthony Riley from GEMS Royal Dubai School received the award in the ‘Primary Years Teaching’ category. Neez Hashim from Our Own English High School, Fujairah was honoured for ‘Secondary Years Teaching’ while Suzie Hachez from Cambridge International School – Dubai took home the ‘Special Education Teaching’ award. Each of these winners were given AED88,080 (US$24,000) as cash prize along with a citation.

It was Heather Massaquoi from Bradenton Prep Academy who was declared the winner of  the ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’ award this year and received a cash prize of AED220,200 (US$60,000).

Heather has been with Bradenton Prep Academy for the last five years, and she is currently Head of Music at the school. She was recognised for being an inspirational role model for students and peers and for her exceptional teaching & learning activities, attitude and values.

The Mariamma Varkey Award is another award intended to shine the spotlight on the teaching profession and is Sunny Varkey’s way to help to bring back pride to the profession that he hopes young people will aspire to become a part of.

Other awards GEMS or the Varkey Foundation are involved in include, the GEMS Teacher of the Month award which takes place at every GEMS school in the UAE, the AED1 million Emirates Innovative Teacher Award, an initiative organised in partnership between the UAE Ministry of Education and GEMS Education, and the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize, established and managed by the Varkey Foundation, and supported by GEMS Education.

The teachers were nominated based on specific criteria – the ability to design and implement inclusive teaching and learning strategies; the use of contemporary knowledge and understanding of curriculum; the ability to maintain high ethical standards and exercise sound judgement; and the ability to identify, initiate and build on opportunities to engage parents/carers in the progress of their children’s learning.