GEMS Education honours the ‘best teacher’ in its network with inaugural Mariamma Varkey Award

Debbiejo Miranda from The Winchester School - Jebel Ali chosen as the ‘Most Inspirational Teacher’ from GEMS schools in the UAE; to receive over AED 220,000 as a cash prize

Dubai, UAE:  GEMS Education today announced the winner of its inaugural Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS, instituted in honour of Mariamma Varkey, the founder of GEMS Education’s first school.

Nominated bypeers, and chosen by a judging panel, Debbiejo Miranda from The Winchester School - Jebel Ali was adjudged as the winner this year and was honoured at an award ceremony held on October 5 to coincide with International World Teachers Day. She received a cash prize of AED 220,200 (US$60,000).

The Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS is the third recognition to honour teachers, instituted by philanthropist and founder & chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey. The other two are 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, instituted and managed by the Varkey Foundation, and supported by GEMS Education.

All three awards underline the importance of the teaching profession and highlights that teachers throughout the world deserve to be recognised, respected, rewarded and celebrated – a mission driven by Varkey.

Commenting on the Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS, Sunny Varkey said: “Our teachers are the backbone of GEMS Education, inspiring and nurturing generations of students, and setting exemplary standards in teaching excellence. The awards that we have instituted aim to elevate the standards of teaching further, and to inspire the teaching community. By recognising an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, the awards shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

“The Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS is also our humble tribute to Mariamma Varkey, who set the fundamentals for the GEMS Education network. Much before the formation of the UAE, she committed herself to shaping the next generation through the noble profession of teaching. Her drive, enthusiasm and energy are an inspiration for every teacher. I congratulate the winners and nominees for their achievements and acknowledge their hard work, dedication and commitment to our students and the entire school network,” he added.

It was also announced that GEMS Education has introduced the GEMS Teacher of the Month Award to recognise teachers from each school within the group. These awards take place in each school, highlighting one exceptional teacher every month. The monthly nominated teachers across the schools will be shortlisted for the Mariamma Varkey Award held annually.

For the inaugural Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS, an eminent panel of judges was constituted comprising five senior leadership team members of GEMS Education, and representatives from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and UAE Ministry of Education.

The nominated teachers were evaluated on the basis of 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.

Debbiejo Miranda demonstrated high level performance consistently across all criteria and produced outstanding academic and examination results, balanced with a focus on twenty first century skills in preparation not just for further education but also for life. In addition, she contributed significantly towards professional learning and growth of other teachers in the school whilst maintaining strong connections with parents and the local community.

Varkey added: “The winners and nominated teachers stand for the great values that we pursue at GEMS Education. They enable our students to create, problem-solve, inquire and aspire to be the best. They are also an inspiration for their colleagues to do even better in their profession.”

The best practices of the award winner and the nominees will be documented to highlight the effective indicators of teacher performance. They will also be recognised throughout the GEMS network in their role as teacher leaders and mentors.