GEMS Nations Academy appoints top level leadership and teaching teams

Head of School Tom Farquhar has announced the early appointments of key members of the Leadership Team and faculty.

  • Elizabeth Miller joins as Deputy Head, bringing experience in school leadership and American curriculum
  • A distinguished school principal in the U.S. and U.K., Tracy Murch appointed Elementary Principal at Nations.
  • Director of College Counseling, Kierstan Connors joins in April, lending deep background in international education  
  • Nine outstanding teachers from within GEMS school network have joined the team

Dubai: Ahead of the August 2016 opening of GEMS Nations Academy, the Middle East’s ground breaking new school, Head of School Tom Farquhar has announced the early appointments of key members of the Leadership Team and faculty.

Elizabeth Miller joins Nations Academy as Deputy Head, bringing to Dubai a wealth of experience in teaching and strategic curriculum leadership. Previously Head of School at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School in St. Louis, her first career was in international business and consulting. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio Wesleyan with a degree in Journalism and Economics, Miller earned a Master’s degree from Harvard University in East Asia studies and quickly assumed positions of leadership with multi-national companies developing their business activities in Japan and China. The shift to education in 2002 occurred when a prominent American school urged her to bring a global perspective to their history courses.   

“We are excited to welcome Elizabeth Miller,” said Farquhar. “Her background in business and economics, combined with many years of curricular and institutional experience in education, will help us shape the leadership program that will be one of the hallmarks of our school program.

Nations has also appointed Tracy Murch as Elementary Principal. A highly skilled school leader with over 30 years of experience in education, Murch joins Nations Academy from TASIS England, a private American international school in the UK, where she was Head of Lower School. Her expertise in primary teaching and learning, teacher development, and the promotion of heathy, safe school community environments was cultivated during her years as a teacher and school principal in New Hampshire, where she was a finalist for the distinction of Principal of the Year.

To offer a world-class college counseling program at Nations Academy, Farquhar recruited Stanford University graduate Kierstan Connors to serve as Director of College Counseling. Connors brings years of experience advising international school students through the complexities of the application process, and is highly qualified to support Nations Academy students and families in their efforts to gain admission to the more selective colleges and universities in the world. She has counseled students in China, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Costa Rica, and the US. She is a master teacher of English, and is nearing completion of her PhD in International Literacy, Culture & English Language Education at Indiana University.

The recruitment process for talented teachers began last September with a focus on top teaching talent within the GEMS group of schools. The Nations Leadership Team is identifying and interviewing exceptional teaching candidates in the US, recruiting a faculty of uncommon distinction for the school. Nine senior teachers with diverse teaching experiences and outstanding results, all drawn from American and International Baccalaureate schools within the GEMS network, have already been appointed. These teachers form the nucleus of the Nations faculty; each thoroughly familiar with leading-edge education in the UAE, all have demonstrated strong leadership in their respective subjects.

Construction of Phase One of the Nations facilities is nearing completion at the site in Al Barsha, near Sheikh Zayed Road and Hessa Street. The Leadership Team will shortly guide hard-hat tours for parents, students, and teachers to see the ambitious design.

“The building will complement the teachers in inspiring students,” said Farquhar. “We truly believe that there is no place better than Dubai to bring together an international student body and to support the fullest development of human potential, individual and collective, in an environment that encourages innovation and creative problem-solving. Today we know that a stimulating, challenging, and supportive school climate creates the optimum conditions for cognitive growth and academic achievement.”

In its first year GEMS Nations Academy will serve students from Kindergarten through Grade 8, with natural expansion to higher grades in successive years.

Admissions are now open for the 2016-17 academic year and further details are available on