GEMS Awards Exceptional Heads Of Schools


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 AED 273,000 (USD 75,000).

Simon O’Connor, Principal & CEO of Jumeriah College was named the runner–up and received a cash prize of AED 91,000 (USD 25,000). The awards recognize outstanding Heads of Schools (Principals and Superintendents) who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for all their students.

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 GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award is the fifth recognition to honor teachers, launched by GEMS and the Varkey Foundation. Other recognition includes AED 1 million Emirates Innovative Teacher Award, an initiative organized in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Education, the USD 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.

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 Ms 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.”

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

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 recognized today, who truly embody this value and make our schools a place where every child is supported to nurture their individual talents.”

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