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GEMS Education has announced the winner of its inaugural ‘GEMS Exceptional Head of School Awards’.

Nominated by peers, and chosen by a judging panel, Nargish Khambatta from GEMS Modern Academy was judged as the winner from within the GEMS network in the UAE. She received a cash prize of AED273,000 (US$75,000).

The awards recognise outstanding Heads of Schools (Principals and Superintendents) who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for all their students. Nargish provided exemplary leadership in all facets of running a school, and through her actions, behaviours and attitudes has made a significant contribution to the status of the profession.

Simon O’Connor, Principal & CEO of Jumeriah College was named the runner–up and received a cash prize of AED91,000 (US$25,000).

The launch of this award is in line with the mission of GEMS Education’s Founder, Sunny Varkey, to raise the status of the teaching profession within the country and the world.

The GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award is the fifth recognition to honour teachers, launched by GEMS and the Varkey Foundation. The others are: the AED1 million Emirates Innovative Teacher Award, an initiative organised in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Education; the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize, instituted and managed by the Varkey Foundation and supported by GEMS Education; the Mariamma Varkey Awards for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS; and the GEMS Teacher of the Month Awards, which take place in all GEMS schools in the UAE.

This series of awards underline the importance of the teaching profession and highlight teachers throughout the world who deserve to be recognised, respected, rewarded and celebrated.

Commenting on the ‘Exceptional Head of School’ at GEMS, Sunny Varkey, Founder of GEMS Education, said: “We are proud of all the remarkable leaders that we have within our schools, and each one of our Heads of School is a passionate and inspirational educationist. We are privileged to be able to celebrate them through these awards.”

The nominated Heads of Schools were evaluated using several criteria including responsiveness to needs and strengths of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds; understanding of the curriculum; and assessment and reporting requirements, while also demonstrating innovative practices that engage and support all students.

Speaking on the award Nargish Khambatta said, “The announcement came out of the blue and I was overwhelmed with the deep sense of quiet that flooded my heart. This was a recognition of the wonderful work my team does for our children, day in and day out. Receiving the GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award was a symbolic recognition of every principal in GEMS Education who work so selflessly for the future generation and for our staff. I salute our Founder Mr Sunny Varkey’s vision – like the Global Teacher Prize, he has ensured that the spotlight shines on Leadership”.

Dino Varkey, Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education said: “We at GEMS Education see Genius in every child. It is leaders like Nargish and Simon, as well as all the Heads of Schools recognised today, who truly embody this value and make our schools a place where every child is supported to nurture their individual talents.”

The top five finalist of the GEMS Exceptional Head of School were; Matthew Burfield, GEMS Founders School- Al Barsha; Asma Gilani, Our Own English High School- Sharjah Girls; Ruth Burke, GEMS Wellington International School; Nargish Khambatta, GEMS Modern Academy; and Simon O’Connor, Jumeirah College.

Beyond the US$ 75,000 and the US$ 25,000 that the Winner and Runner up received, the other three finalists received US$10,000.