Top U.S. Education Visionary to Lead Prestigious New GEMS Academy

Top U.S. Education Visionary Thomas Farquhar to Lead Prestigious New GEMS Academy in Dubai

Dubai, UAE, 9th February 2014: GEMS Education, the Dubai headquartered international education provider, today announced the appointment of leading US educationalist Thomas B. Farquhar as principal of a ground-breaking new American-curriculum school which will open in September 2015 in Dubai.

Mr Tom Farquhar, who has led the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, USA for more than four years, will join GEMS in the 2014-15 academic year to lead the development of the new K-12 academy which will open to students in September 2015.

Mr Farquhar will help spearhead the new school’s mission to offer an enriched American curriculum focused on developing the necessary intellectual, emotional, social, creative and physical skills in students to enable them to think critically and tackle global challenges. Enrolment for the school will open in 2014.

The new GEMS school will be one of the most prestigious schools in the region, offering an unparalleled level of education, facilities and support for parents, led by an experienced team from some of the world’s most storied schools.  

Mr Farquhar himself has led some of the most prestigious K-12 schools in the United States and his appointment highlights GEMS’ commitment to offer top quality education and prepare a new generation of global citizens for a rapidly changing world. In his current role at Sidwell Friends School, Washington DC, Mr Farquhar helped draft a strategic map for the American curriculum of the future, entitled ‘The 2025 Challenge: Long Range Priorities.’ The plan defines the new knowledge and skills that will be needed by future generations of students to prepare them not only for admission to selective colleges but also to equip them with the skills to make a great contribution in the heart of the 21st century.

Sidwell Friends is one of the most respected schools in America. Among its current students and alumni include the children of several presidents, such as Sasha and Malia Obama, the daughters of President Obama, and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Bill Clinton. Other prominent alumni include: Nancy Reagan, the wife of President Reagan; Charles Lindberg, the famous flyer; and comedienne Anna Gasteyer.

“Tom Farquhar’s rich experience in developing modern curricula to answer modern challenges has prepared some of America’s top students for a rapidly changing world,” said Dino Varkey, Group Chief Operating Officer and board member of GEMS education. “He will apply that experience to help build one of the foremost schools in the region and prepare a new generation of international students to tackle the world’s ever more complex problems. Tom will join a seasoned team of educators all focused on developing curricula and skills to prepare students for an ever-changing world. We look forward to working with him and to continuing our drive to deliver the best quality education to students of all income levels.”

Noting his enthusiasm to join the GEMS team, Farquhar said, “My greatest excitement about coming to GEMS is in helping the organization develop the new criteria of excellence in international education, to focus on critical thinking, and the cultivation of human imagination and creativity, particularly in the realm of problem solving.”

Mr Farquhar added:  “My speciality is in bringing the experience of the school into alignment with the skills students need in the future workforce. The American education system, at its best, is focused on critical thinking and the development of student voice, and I hope to help bring that to students in the UAE.

“There’s a worldwide crisis that centres around one issue: if we are really to create and help develop the capacity for critical enquiry, it’s not enough to replicate the old solutions for the problem through memorization. Education needs to step into this challenge and make the world a better place.”
Margaret Atack, head of education at GEMS, said: “Tom brings a history of excellence in running schools, and we look forward to working with a world class educationalist of his calibre.”

Mr Farquhar has enjoyed an illustrious career leading some of America’s most prestigious schools. Prior to Sidwell Friends School, he served as Head at Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA, for 13 years. There, he oversaw major building projects, expanded enrolment, and strengthened the academic programme. Before that, Mr Farquhar headed Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, USA, for eight years where he led the Task Force on 21st Century Curriculum, a project to identify curriculum imperatives for planners and teachers as they strive to prepare the next generation of graduates for lives of leadership and service.

Mr Farquhar earned a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and studied in the graduate Opera Workshop at the Boston Conservatory.