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Issue 2 February 2018

Recognising Extraordinary Talent Every Child is a Genius.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE Moulding The Perfect Student.



Changing Futures Through Education. P34


In This Issue 9

A Choir of a Thousand Voices


Introducing New (and some not so new) Friends

The GEMS Team Andy Johnson Benny Thomas Delfin Lardizabal Joel Nerona Melanie Dunn Pablo Arguello Carzar Reem Hindieh Ross McAuley Sheetal Khullar Adhvaryu Sonia Joy

TPG Media


Leading The Way - In Conversation with Shanti Clemments


Relax, Renew, Revive


Willpower Knows No Obstacles

Belinda Breeze Cherri Fawzy Daniel Murad Dorothy Brigoli Eddie Rayner Elvit Ebrahimi Laura Wojciechowski Mahdi Shafiei Nawal Atiq Rod Millington Vidushi Kewlani

Contact Tel: +971 4 349 4925 Email:



This magazine is published by TPG Publishing LLC. All material is the copyright of TPG Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. This magazine is the property of TPG Publishing LLC. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form whole or part without written permission of the Managing Director of TPG Publishing LLC. While every care is taken in the preparation of this magazine, the publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein, or any consequence arising from it. In the case of company or product reviews or comments, these have been based upon the true and honest opinion of the Editor at the time of going to press. | 3

Message from the Founder

Bringing Out the Best Dear colleagues, Following the ‘Year of Giving’ in the UAE in 2017, I would like to thank all of you who have become part of one of the most significant initiatives GEMS Education has ever undertaken – the GEMS Rewards programme. Thank you also for encouraging our parents to join the programme. GEMS Rewards is our way of giving back to our loyal community, and ultimately aims to make tuition fees cost neutral. I am so pleased that so many of our staff have become part of the programme and are enjoying all that it offers. 2018 is the ‘Year of Zayed’ in the UAE. The year will be about celebrating Sheikh Zayed’s values - the values of tolerance, coexistence and progress. The leaders of this nation have always believed in and invested in education, as the key to sustainable economic development and prosperity. GEMS Education is a proud UAE company. As the UAE has grown and flourished, so have the thousands of students we have had the pleasure of teaching.

“At GEMS Education, we hold firm to our belief that every single child has the right to a quality education.”

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At GEMS Education, we hold firm to our belief that every single child has the right to a quality education. We strongly believe that every single child has talents and abilities that are as unique as their personalities. We take pride in our inclusive ethos and in our commitment to help every family find the right school for their child. We are determined to bring out the best in every single child who comes to us to learn. This ethos is reflected in the new GEMS Education brand campaign – we see the genius in every child. I know each of you works tirelessly to help bring out the best in all our students and help them achieve their potential. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your commitment to our students and families. Best wishes. Sunny Varkey

What’s Happening at GEMS

We see genius in every child.

Every Child is a Genius “In my travels around the world, I’ve seen that while intelligence and ability are equally distributed, access to a quality education is not,” says Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education. So while it may be true that every child has the potential to be great, few are given the opportunity.

This conviction - that quality education is a basic human right and key to unlocking the greatness that lies in every child - is at the heart of the new GEMS Education branding, launched at the end of January. The branding, which can be seen in a series of print, TV and online adverts, encapsulates the philosophy that our mission as educators at GEMS is to bring out the best in every student. Education is not about telling young minds what to think. It is an opportunity to teach children how to think in a critical manner. This approach shows us that geniuses are made, not born, and any child can become one. The question is how do we develop these young geniuses, and how do we define genius?

Einstein said, “Every child is born a genius”. We agree. And we believe that a quality educa tion is the key to unlocking the genius in every child.

The original concept of genius can be found at its root: ‘to give birth’ (related to the word genesis) and ‘to be passionate or happy’ (related to the word genial). Once this is understood, it is easy to see that within each child there is an innate creative spark which, when unleashed, leads them towards success in life. This does not mean that every child can paint like Caravaggio or compose like Mozart. But rather, that every child can discover their true passions and talents with wonder, curiosity, spontaneity, joie de vivre and enthusiasm being their birthrights.

If we want young people to become innovative, pioneering problem solvers, we need to provide them with opportunities to deal with complex challenges. We need to allow them to make use of their natural resourcefulness and imaginative powers, while offering the support that will help them reach a practical solution. And it is this that is at the heart of the GEMS Education philosophy and its commitment to continue to build an inspirational, optimistic, noble and fundamentally good brand; a brand that values education and truly believes that within each individual child is a genius. | 5

What’s Happening at GEMS

Extraordinarily Talented Heads of School

Winner of the GEMS Exceptional Head of School Awards, Nargish Khambatta, with Dino Varkey, Sunny Varkey, Sir Christopher Stone, and Fatma Al Marri, CEO Dubai Schools Agency.

Last year we set out on a mission to highlight our Heads of Schools through the GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award, with the aim being to celebrate the tremendous achievements, hard work and dedicated leadership of some of our most important and respected educationalists. Recently that mission became a reality when we brought everyone together to celebrate these leaders; professionals who inspire us every single day. With this in mind, I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Nargish Khambatta, CEO and Principal of GEMS Modern Academy, who was presented with the first ever GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Simon O’Connor, Principal and CEO of Jumeirah College, who was this year’s truly exceptional runner-up. In fact, Nargish was up against some very stiff competition, with the shortlist of five

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finalists being completed by Matthew Burfield from GEMS Founders School - Al Barsha, Asma Gilani from Our Own English High School - Sharjah (Girls), and Ruth Burke from GEMS Wellington International School. I have to say that I am really proud of this extraordinarily talented quintet; indeed, I am proud of each and every one of the outstanding leaders in our schools, all of whom are both passionate and inspirational. It is therefore a genuine thrill to be able to celebrate them through the first GEMS Exceptional Head of School Award. - Dino Varkey, CEO

What’s Happening at GEMS

Quotes from our five finalists “My heart is bottled with emotions. I am indeed thankful to GEMS for nominating me for the Exceptional Heads of School Award. This award validates all our efforts and endeavours in sustaining excellence at school.” Asma Gilani


“I am extremely honoured to be included in the Top 5 for the Exceptional Heads of School Award. I am incredibly proud of what our team have achieved at GFS and felt I was accepting this award for us all.” Matthew Burfield


“I am honoured to have received this award – made all the more special by the amazing evening in which it was presented. It was such a special occasion to be able to celebrate GEMS Principals amongst so many friends, and there could not have been a more deserving winner than Nargish,” Simon O’Connor


“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.” Nargish Khambatta


“An event to recognise the efforts and expertise of all GEMS leaders was always going to be a very special one and to be nominated as an exceptional leader at the event was a real privilege.” Ruth Burke


Today’s dreamers are tomorrow’s geniuses.

Inside every child, we see greatness waiting to be discovered. We believe that a quality education is the key to unlocking the genius in every child.


What’s Happening at GEMS

Over 13.6 million Facebook views worldwide

A Choir of a Thousand Voices Kevin Oliver, Cultural Director, GEMS Education, likes a challenge; some of his recent projects have included the production of Starlight Express with Our Own High School Al Warqa’a and his own ‘pop opera’, The Lost, performed by GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai. It was no surprise that he decided his next challenge was going to be conducting a 1000 all girl choir. The girls, all from GEMS Our Own English High School - Dubai, performed A.R. Rahman’s “Maa Tujhe Salaam” as one of the first celebrations of the school’s 50th Anniversary. This experience became life-changing for the students, teachers and even Kevin when the award-winning composer, singer-songwriter, music producer and philanthropist, A.R. Rahman, decided to get involved himself. Tell us a little about this project? It all started when an ex-student of mine from GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai approached me for an A.R. Rahman project, and the idea of 1000 students performing a song, Vande Matharam, which I loved when I heard it many years ago. I knew it would be a major challenge as it was in a language that I was not too familiar with. Then I was asked by Thomas Mathew, Principal of GEMS Our Own English High School - Dubai (Girls), to plan the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and I thought this would be the ideal situation - to find and train 1000 girls and use this song for both the A.R. Rahman project and the 50th anniversary.

How did you go about finding the girls? Auditioning the students was the start, and it took a long time to actually find the girls we wanted. I went through every single student from Grade 7 to 11… and believe me the numbers were huge! This, after all, is the oldest and largest school in the GEMS group. However, three weeks of auditions later it had all begun to take shape. How did you plan rehearsals? Firstly, I spoke to my core group of music teachers. I had to inspire and motivate them into believing that such a huge choir was possible for us to do. There was a remarkable coordinator who saw that the rehearsals ran smoothly, planning the entire coordination, and with so many students in different parts of the school this was no easy task. Was it difficult managing 1000 students? I really didn’t have any big problem. I spoke and they were sweet enough to let me be heard. I loved every part of this venture. The girls were absolutely amazing. Final question, how did it feel to meet A.R. Rahman? I’ve always been such a big fan of his work. Meeting him felt like a dream come true!


KEVIN OLIVER Cultural Director GEMS Education

“It was an amazing experience to be involved with the production of this huge, challenging project and the results were quite overwhelming. Producing this tribute video on the Silver Jubilee of A. R. Rahman’s musical journey, was as satisfying as meeting the maestro himself, at a time, when our school celebrates the Golden Jubilee. It was truly, a dream come true.” - Joshen Koshy (Music Teacher, Our Own English High School Dubai) | 9


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What’s Happening at GEMS

Teachers Walk the Runway Transforming the Classroom GEMS Education is committed to providing its students with a high-quality learning experience and, with this in mind, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global technology leader Microsoft. The MoU is focused on digital transformation in the classroom and improving outcomes for students, based on Microsoft’s own Educational Transformation Framework. This digital transformation, fuelled by the rise of educational technology, has seen teachers make sweeping changes to their teaching methods, assessments, and even the physical make-up of their classrooms. And these trends are making headlines in the education world thanks

to the way in which they are positively impacting student learning. Mick Gernon, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Innovation, GEMS Education, said: “We are confident that what GEMS Education and Microsoft achieve together, as part of this agreement, will produce in our students the skills and digital fluency needed to face the multi-faceted challenges emerging in the world today, and more importantly, those of tomorrow.” The MoU will support GEMS Education in evaluating the adoption of the unprecedented new capabilities of AI in the classroom, providing a platform for promoting creativity, collaboration and problem-solving activities.

Great Staff… and Talented Too! End of term at GEMS Wellington International School - Dubai was marked in spectacular fashion with a medley of musical and dance performances from its Primary, Secondary and Administration teams, in which the school’s talented staff showcased a range of skills in a truly unique production! GWIS students, members of WISPA, the Local Advisory Board,

and parents enjoyed the theatrical extravaganza almost as much as the staff. Ruth Burke, Principal, said that she loved being part of this type of innovative collaboration, commenting: “It was tremendous fun and great for morale and teamwork.” Vice-Principal, Maryssa O’Connor, enthused: “Laughing and good old-fashioned fun is contagious; the students always enjoy this sort of event!” WISPA Chairman, Ranil de Silva,

As a tribute to all our teachers, Marks & Spencer, the well-known apparel destination for men and women, organised a make-over session in The Westminster School Dubai, while the audience – the staff, were given an insight on how to carry themselves and be confident in simple yet smart trends. Marks & Spencer representatives gave a presentation on how to groom oneself in a befitting style that enhances one’s personality, improving one’s happiness and wellbeing. “Thank you Marks & Spencer!”

added: “An amazing way to showcase staff care and commitment; the appreciation and the belongingness as one whole GWIS community!” Unfortunately due to teaching, leadership and administration commitments, the show will not be headlining on Broadway anytime soon. However, we look forward to more staff performances next year! | 11

What’s Happening at GEMS

Save Money, Experience More with GEMS Rewards Nadia Weiner, a teacher at Bradenton Preparatory Academy - Dubai, has been taught a few things herself since downloading the GEMS Rewards app, not least to keep it in her pocket at all times! “I try to use it whenever I go out, because it’s a great way to save money and experience new restaurants that are promoted on the app. I have already saved around AED 2,571, so I’m quite impressed. I highly recommend it to staff members, because they can enjoy new restaurants and activities with another person for half the cost. It’s easy to use, too.”

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Shad Nazer (Projects Team, School Support Centre) is hugely impressed with how easy the GEMS Rewards app is to download and use, not to mention the fact that it features the most popular brands in each individual category. “I use it mostly at weekends,” he explains, “and so far I have redeemed a couple of vouchers and saved approximately AED 1,285. I primarily use the app for food purchases and would certainly recommended it to colleagues, particularly as it’s not just limited to my own use, as it allows my family and friends to enjoy the benefits, too.”

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Getting to Know Our Teachers…

Making the Impossible Happen Izza Binnie’s six-year journey with GEMS Education began when she arrived in Dubai in 2012 as a French teacher at GEMS Jumeirah Primary School - Dubai. From there she was promoted to Head of Languages at GEMS Founders School - Dubai. Along the way, she was nominated for the Mariamma Varkey Award for Inspirational and Outstanding Teaching at GEMS, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, along with 21 other GEMS teachers, to raise money for education in Uganda! We caught up with Izza before she embarks on the next exciting phase of her career with GEMS.

How did your journey start with GEMS Education? I began my teaching career in the UK after growing up in France. I wanted to move abroad and so applied for a job with GEMS. As the biggest international education company, GEMS was my first choice. I applied for a job in Dubai and got an interview. I hadn’t been to the UAE before, but my journey has been fantastic. How did your love for languages begin? I have loved languages ever since I was little because there were two languages at home - Arabic from dad, who is Moroccan, and French from mum. I always loved travelling too, which made me even more eager to learn languages. I still love studying languages just as much as ever. Tell us about your career development at GEMS… The eclectic nature of GEMS has taken me on many different journeys. Within JPS, I learned a great deal from both my colleagues and students alike. I developed ‘Flipped Learning’ as the main method of teaching and learning MFL; not only in my own school, but by working with other GEMS schools. I also became part of the GEMS Developing Leadership Programme, which allowed me to develop a clear understanding of the demands and rewards of leadership.   In February 2015, I had the opportunity, along with another 21 GEMS staff, to take part in one of the Varkey Foundation challenges to raise

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money for education in Uganda - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania!  I was lucky enough to become part of the leadership team that would open what was going to be the fastest growing school in the GEMS network - GEMS Founders School - Dubai. From opening our doors with over 1800 students, we doubled in size the following year. It is safe to say this part of my journey with GEMS was full of new challenges, surprises and rewards. What makes working for GEMS unique? There has not been a single day where I felt I wasn’t learning something new, particularly the nature and characteristics of all the different GEMS schools. It has been a very rich journey of professional and personal development. You never know what is going to happen next when you work for GEMS, it is all about following your passion for education and making the impossible happen! What has been the best part of your GEMS journey to date? There’s many. I received the Mariamma Varkey Award in 2016. Being recognised by parents, teacher and students was simply breathtaking. However, what I value the most are the opportunities I’ve been given as an educator; being hired as a teacher and then becoming Head of French and then Head of Languages. My journey has been genuinely diverse because of these role changes. What is next for you in your GEMS journey? I just got a position in GEMS World Academy in Switzerland as a French teacher, so I will be moving back to Europe. And finally, how many languages do you speak? French, English and German; I understand Arabic and have developed a strong interest in teaching and learning it ever since I moved to the UAE. I don’t find it easy to learn languages, but I love doing it. Check out what the students from GEMS Founders School Dubai were up to on Mother Tongue Day watch?v=mBsREeS8vss

Getting to Know Our Staff… How did you become the MSO at The Westminster School - Dubai? I am the youngest in a family of eight children and was raised in Mangalore, West Coast of India. I started my career as Administrative Officer at GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai, then moving on to several schools in China as the MSO, before returning to GEMS schools in the UAE. I have been at The Westminster School - Dubai for the past four years. My wife, Margaret, works at GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai as the Educational Supervisor for pre-KG and KG 2, whilst our sons, Del and Dru, are in Grades 8 and 3 respectively at the same school. That makes us a ‘GEMS family’, and we are very proud of it.

Leadership and Creativity – the Qualities Needed to Manage School Operations Raymond Fernandes, the Manager of School Operations (MSO) at The Westminster School - Dubai, leaves home at 5.30am each day to meet with the security team and ancillary staff supervisors, before undertaking school checks and opening the gates at 6.15am. Raymond is passionate about his work and here, he tells us about his role as an MSO.


What is the role of an MSO? The role of an MSO involves claiming ownership, accountability and responsibility for many aspects of a school’s operations, from health and safety to finances, customer service to operations. It’s a very important role, since you’re responsible for so many people. In your opinion, what is the most important thing an MSO does? The most important part of my job is ensuring health and safety for all. It is crucial that we maintain an environment where everyone feels comfortable within the school premises. Who does the MSO report to? As the MSO, I report to the School Principal and the Chief Schools Operations Officer from the GEMS Corporate Office. What’s the best thing about being an MSO? For me, my favourite part of the job is dealing with the children. I love children and, as a father of two, I know how to work with them. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy. Finally, what skills does an MSO need to have? He or she needs to be passionate and committed. They need to be natural leaders, and think in an innovative and creative way. They must have good knowledge on all the areas of school operations. It is also vital to be proactive and forward-thinking, so that we can find quick solutions to any unforeseen circumstances. | 15

It’s Your Future Too

Introducing New (and some not so new) Friends Creating the conditions to help all children achieve their best is complex and challenging, requiring the right people in the right places. That’s why we are delighted to highlight some of the new Principals across the GEMS network. While some are new to GEMS, others have been promoted from within the company. Following Dan Young’s retirement, Kate Vavpetic has been appointed to the position of Principal at Bradenton Preparatory Academy - Dubai. Kate moved to Dubai in August 2015 to join GEMS as the Deputy Head of School at Bradenton Preparatory Academy, bringing with her over 13 years of experience in a variety of teaching and leadership positions.

GEMS Inspiration: Did you know that 50% of our new Principals come from within the GEMS family?

Nigel Cropley has transferred from leading The Winchester School - Abu Dhabi to take up his new role as Principal of GEMS Founders School - Al Mizhar. Prior to this, Nigel worked as Vice-Principal at GEMS Cambridge International School - Dubai, before moving to Al Khaleej National School Dubai as Principal and CEO.

John Hughes is another inspiring example. Having joined GEMS Metropole School - Motor City as Vice-Principal in 2014, he was encouraged by the leadership programmes organised by Tellal to apply for a greater leadership role. As a result, John has been named as the Principal of the new GEMS Vertus School - Dubai.

Meanwhile, Karon Buck has stepped into Nigel Cropley’s shoes as Principal at The Winchester School - Abu Dhabi. Karon has 10 years of senior leader experience and was the Founding Principal of Medway UTC and Founding Vice-Principal of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Crayford Academy (HACA).

Other Principals promoted from within include Craig Lamshed who, having worked for eight years across several GEMS schools, is now Principal and Country Director of GEMS Wellington Academy - Qatar; Lachlan MacKinnon, Principal and CEO of Cambridge International School - Dubai and former Project Director for the Varkey

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Carolyn Bailey, for instance, joined GEMS in 2016 as Vice-Principal at The Cambridge High School - Abu Dhabi. She was appointed to the Principal role in June 2017.

Foundation; and Akram Tariq, former Vice-Principal of GEMS Westminster - Ras Al Khaimah, who participated in Tellal leadership development programmes to prepare him for his next leadership step... Principal at the same school. Growing talent Only when we have the best people in the correct roles, can we offer the best to our students. That’s why at GEMS Education, we have sought to establish a culture of advancement and give top performers the opportunity to succeed. We will continue this strategy, as we strive to retain valuable talent and contribute the organisation’s growth and success.

50% of our new Principals come from within the GEMS family

It’s Your Future Too

Karon Buck

Lachlan MacKinnon


Principal & CEO



Akram Tarik

Kate Vavpetic

Principal and CEO






Carolyn Bailey

John Hughes





Nigel Cropley

Craig Lamshed


Principal and Country Director



The Learning Journey

Leading the Way Shanti Clements, the newly appointed Head of Leadership Academy at the TELLAL Institute, talks to GEMS People Connect as she steps off the plane from Sydney, Australia. Welcome to Dubai, Shanti. Tell us a bit about yourself. Thanks! I’m excited to be here. During my 24 years in education, I’ve been a Classroom Teacher, a Principal, an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney, and an Assistant Director with the NSW Department of Education. I was honoured to be made a Leadership Fellow and receive an Australian Teaching Award. My fourth book, A Seven Step Blueprint for Successful Schools, is due to be published in 2018. As the Head of TELLAL’s Leadership Academy, where will you have the biggest impact? As Teacher and Principal Licensing is introduced across the UAE, we have an exciting opportunity to embrace educational change and drive improvement. Balancing reform with Principal well-being, empowerment and self-regulation is also something that I’m passionate about. I am eager to hear where school and senior leaders currently see challenges and opportunities for

leadership initiatives, and I’m committed to helping them develop a VUCA Prime mindset, in which they lead their school communities with Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. Tell us about TELLAL’s leadership programme. Who is it for? Our eight leadership programmes focus on nurturing the leadership expertise of aspiring, middle and senior leaders in GEMS schools. These programmes are based on international best practice and support GEMS schools in growing future leaders by guiding each teacher’s professional learning trajectory. If someone is interested in becoming a GEMS leader, what should they do? Start by getting your supervisor’s feedback on your leadership potential. Volunteer for leadership projects and, if this works out well, investigate the TELLAL leadership programmes. Most importantly, keep talking to your supervisor – you’ll need their support

to gain your school’s commitment to your leadership journey. What about teachers who prefer to stay in the classroom? If you aren’t interested in a positional leadership role, TELLAL’s Teacher Development Programmes aims to further your skill-set as a highly accomplished classroom practitioner, mentor and curriculum expert. How have you found the move to Dubai so far? I feel lucky to be working with a group of dynamic, dedicated and talented educators. And once I’ve finished my PhD, I’m really looking forward to exploring Dubai a little more. To learn how TELLAL can support your own leadership journey, visit | 19

Others see kids at play. We see genius at work.

Every child has the potential for greatness. We believe that a quality education is the key to unlocking the genius in every child.


Curriculum Corner

Moulding the Perfect Student

Dear Maths, I Love You

Ancy Thomas (Head of Year 8, Work Experience Coordinator and Business Teacher at Cambridge International School - Dubai) taught Business Studies to Simone Sanchia Fernandes, a student who scored the world’s top mark in AS Business. We talked to Ancy to get her views on moulding the perfect student. Was Simone a student who was already consistently achieving the highest mark in the class? Simone joined my AS Business class last year and used to score a B in assessments initially. Simone has demonstrated a love for learning and the level of commitment necessary to succeed in AS level. She was very proactive in lessons by submitting her work on time and clarifying doubts. She worked hard to improve her writing skills and happily took on-board different ideas as to how she could improve. Towards the end of the academic year, Simone scored an A in her mock exams. In your opinion, what’s the best way to motivate/encourage a student to excel in their studies? Students should never be discouraged, regardless of their academic results. Our job is to motivate them so that they strive to achieve a high grade. Not all students can achieve an A in their assessments but as teachers, we have to support them, especially the lower achievers. We must always be approachable and welcoming in order to build up their confidence. As a teacher, what do you do to ensure students remain engaged and interested in the subject? We have many group discussions to ensure that students are fully engaged in lessons. Kahoot quizzes are used as mid plenary and plenary to test students’ understanding of concept. They love these quizzes as it shows who stands first, second and third. I also utilise Padlet, which is a very easy way to create and collaborate. Students write their answers/responses (texts, videos) on the padlet wall from their device (PCs, tablets, phones). Every student learns at a different pace and excels in different subject areas. What do you do to ensure that your students are receiving the maximum benefits during classes? In lessons, students are given differentiated worksheets to meet individual needs. They work in groups and present their work to the whole class as a group. We have intervention strategies like after-school activities where we support lower achievers. We also have booster sessions, where students who achieve grades D and below are supported. In our free lessons, students approach us to clear their doubts.

Initially describing co-teaching a subject as something that “makes your eyes sweat,” Carly Chilton, a Learning Support Teacher at GEMS World Academy - Dubai, explains how a fresh challenge in her career took her down an exciting new path; a path that taught her that a great partnership can change everything. When I first learned that I was going to be co-teaching a Maths class in GEMS World Academy Dubai, I had a minor panic attack. My palms started to sweat. My eyes went a bit blurry. Maths. You’ve got to be kidding me! I had basically spent my entire life from 10th Grade actively trying to avoid the subject. I chose my entire set of degrees based on the fact that minimal mathematics was involved. But here I am, teaching Grade 6 maths. Something I honestly never ever believed that I could do… until I met my co-teacher, Paul Venter. When we were first introduced, I thought, “He seems nice. I mean, he’s a Maths Teacher and I’m a Learning Support Teacher, so this will be weird, but okay. I’ll give him a chance.” But from then on, we clicked. The partnership we have developed over the past three months has led to a dynamic classroom that meets the needs of our varied learners. We have students who are new to English sitting opposite students with severe dyslexia and processing speed problems. As co-teachers, we are learning to listen to each other, incorporate each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. Paul brings the content; I bring the differentiation. Between us, we manage to give the kids the language and strategy support they need and the mathematics syllabus they require. This type of partnership is what I had hoped for in the difficult waters of co-teaching. The tendency of us teachers to hold our lessons close to our chest, to keep almost secretive about the content, fearing the judgment of other teachers, is non-existent here. Paul and I share ideas, while still being able to stay true to the content of the lesson and our roles of the Learning Support Teacher and the Maths Teacher. And now, I can even find a Highest Common Factor between two integers! | 21

The GEMS promise:

It’s your future too

Brand Pillar 1

At GEMS, we see genius in every child. Wherever you work in our growing global business, you’ll be shaping your own future and the futures of children who will one day shape all our worlds. We are committed to investing in career development for our people. Our flexible approach means we are continually adapting and improving the way we work and the solutions we offer.

Brand Pillar 2

Everyday inspiration

Adaptability is everything

We see genius in every child. You will be as inspired by our students as much as you inspire them every single day.

We are continually adapting and growing to provide the best outcomes for our highly diverse family of colleagues, students and parents.

Brand Pillar 3

Brand Pillar 4

Brand Pillar 5

Investing for the future

The freedom to achieve

The way ahead is clear

The investment we make in professional development will accelerate your personal growth and professional career.

We create a high performance working environment where encouraging leaders and committed colleagues will support you in exceeding your expectations.

Sustained growth is a priority and our increasingly global footprint will create exciting opportunities.

GEMS Promise

The GEMS promise: “In GEMS I found a home, far away from home”

It’s your future too The GEMS Promise is a commitment from GEMS to provide our employees with a world of unique and exciting opportunities. This notion was created by GEMS People. It was identified through a series of workshops and surveys of our staff, where we asked how our colleagues feel about working at GEMS Education. Discovery We wanted to capture all this feedback into a pledge that expresses our commitment to our people. Over 83 colleagues from 17 schools took part in 8 Discovery workshops to answer questions: • “What makes GEMS a unique place to work?” • “What makes GEMS different to others?” • “How would you convince a talented teacher/colleague from your field to join GEMS?” The result is the GEMS Promise! The Promise is made up of five key themes articulating the uniqueness of GEMS as an employer. These pillars will be used as messaging for staff and also to our potential candidates, our families and friends to differentiate GEMS as a unique place to work.

Bernard Kuria


“Thank you so much for making us feel valued as employees of GEMS. It did reaffirm my faith in the many strengths of the GEMS institutions.” Rachna Shukla


‘’The children’s enthusiasm and love for learning inspires me daily to provide rich and engaging learning opportunities. My school sets high expectations and ensures children’s are being supported/challenged to achieve their potential. Training, workshops and meetings are held to ensure staff are aware of how expectations can be met successfully. ‘’ Isabel Olley GEMS FIRST POINT SCHOOL - THE VILLA

‘’There are excellent students in GEMS schools. It was one of the first things I noted when I came to GWA.  We should definitely be looking for ways to highlight our kids; especially those who achieve in personal ways, both academically and “other”. Allen McInnes


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Your Stories

VAT IN THE UAE What you need to know! Since 1st January 2018, Value Added Tax (VAT) came into effect in the United Arab Emirates. We had a sit down with Ashok Mehngi, Vice President – Financial Reporting at GEMS to get the low down on what it means for us! What is VAT? VAT is one of the most common types of consumption tax found around the world. Over 150 countries have implemented VAT (or its equivalent, Goods and Services Tax). Registered VAT entities generally act as the collectors of the tax, which is then paid over to the government at regular intervals.

How will VAT affect GEMS? School fees and school transport will not be affected, although after school activities will be if they are paid for. Parents have to pay VAT on school uniforms, noneducational or non-curriculum based extra-curricular trips, stationery, and all other fees that are not directly related to the education and curriculum approved by regulator.

ASHOK MEHNGI Vice President - Financial Reporting

GEMS customers (mainly parents) will be charged what is known as ‘output tax’. GEMS is required to record the total amount of output tax charged on a VAT return, which has to be submitted to the government. Input tax is the VAT component of the payment for goods and services supplied to GEMS (i.e. the VAT charged by suppliers). What constitutes a supply under the UAE VAT Law? Two types of supplies are identified under the UAE VAT Law.

Exempt supply Exempt Supplies are unaffected by VAT implementation in the UAE. Tax is not charged on such supplies.

SUPPLIES Goods/Services

Exempted Supplies

This includes: •  The supply of financial services (i.e. banking related services such as interest) •  Supply of residential buildings (e.g. GEMS accommodation provided to employees) •  local passenger transport (e.g. services provided by STS) •  Supply of bare land

Taxable Supplies

Standard Full Rate

Taxable supply Taxable supplies are divided into two categories: •  Standard rated supplies taxed at 5% VAT •  Zero-rated supplies taxed at 0% VAT

Zero Rate

All goods and services supplied will be taxed at the standard rate (5%), unless they are exempted or classed as zero-rated provisions. | 25


Are you following GEMS Education on social media yet? Follow, like and subscribe to our social media pages and get the latest stories that celebrate you, our students and our schools! Check out some of our most recent happenings and find out what’s been trending.

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Win an Annual membership with Urban Energy.

Urban Energy offers a wide range of classes suitable for every skill level: •


Enter our competition and win a year-long membership with us for FREE!


All you need to do is answer the following question: Who is your fitness role model, and how do they inspire you to be fit and healthy? (Minimum 50 words)

• Running for all levels (Beginners to Advanced) • High-Intensity Interval Training (HiiT) • Pre/Post Natal • Swim Fitness

Send your entry to Closing date for entries 31st March 2018.

Terms & Conditions One-year membership is valid from voucher date. Unlimited Classes. Membership is non-saleable, non-transferable. Class booking is essential via Urban Energy App. Health screening form must be completed before the first class. | 27


Computing Skills For Our Youngest Learners Noha Bishara and Aarti Daswani, members of the Innovation and Digital Coaching team at GEMS Dubai American Academy, recently presented at the EduTECH Middle East Conference 2017 in Dubai. Their inspirational presentation, ‘Computational Thinking in the Early Years’, focused on the importance of building computational thinking skills in our youngest learners. Here, Noha and Aarti tell us about their presentation and how teachers can introduce robotics and coding to students in the primary years. At EduTECH, Noha and Aarti showcased some of the tools available at GEMS Dubai American Academy. They demonstrated how the NAO robot, 3Doodler Pens, Little Bits, and Cubetto can be used in purposefully-designed lessons to create a dynamic and engaging environment that encourages young students to think computationally. As Noha commented: “We like to raise children to be

creative problem solvers; to develop an appreciation for the process of learning rather than merely focusing on the end result or the product.” Noha and Aarti are strong proponents of purposefully-designed lessons, which promote the use of Solution Fluency, to help students develop strong computational thinking skills. “It is important for students to develop these skills in the early years, as they provide a strong foundation that is needed for any future career,” explained Aarti. “Robotics and coding need to be integrated into a lesson and not taught as a separate subject,” Noha added. This is achieved in a number of ways: in Arabic classes, for instance, Scratch Jr. is used to tell a story. In P.E., children have been introduced to Pepper, which is a humanoid robot programmed to lead a lesson and interact with students. Pepper was coded to ask and answer students’ questions. This is just the tip of the iceberg though, and the possibilities are endless. Exposing students to a variety of technological tools from a young age, is allowing teachers at DAA to develop dynamic and engaging lessons, which promote critical thinking skills that connect to real world applications. Aarti concluded: “We believe in raising students who are future fluent. In such a rapidly changing society, we cannot predict what kind of world our students will inherit. What we do know, however, is that computational thinking skills are essential in helping our students overcome future challenges.”

“Robotics and coding need to be integrated into a lesson and not taught as a separate subject”

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Drones Bring New Perspective into Education GEMS Education recently announced the launch of an innovative new education programme using drones, to be piloted at GEMS Dubai American Academy. Unveiled at the Commercial Drone Show, held on the school campus, the curriculum will involve an integrated training programme that includes a Ground School (flight theory, safety and regulations), Simulator Training (competency based training based upon minimum proficiency standards), and Flight Training (actual real-time operation of drones in).

GEMS Dubai American Academy, along with Jumeirah College - Dubai, will be pioneering the programme, with Michael Gernon, Senior VicePresident, Global Head of Innovation, Research and Development, GEMS Education, explaining: “There is a current and future need to train not only drone pilots, but solution experts and engineers. Bringing a new perspective into academics and learning,

incorporating drones in education can help motivate students put their curiosity to good use in addition to the rich educational environment it can provide. The programme will help equip students with vital cross-curricular skills required to encourage problem-solving and analytical thinking in real-world scenarios.� While the programme will primarily be made available to students, there will be opportunities for younger students to take up certain aspects of the study, such as programming, stable flight with small drones, and the building of dummy projects. Currently, the minimum age to grant official permits to fly drones outdoors is 16 years. However, an educational permit will be introduced where students will be allowed to use facilities at specific times under the presence of a commercially qualified pilot. Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Jumeirah College - Dubai, Exponent Technologies, and GEMS Dubai American Academy, which were all present at the Commercial Drone Show, will work together closely on the successful implementation of the programme. | 29


Designing Schools of the Future Thomas Steele-Maley, Director of Foresight Research and Design at GEMS Education, focuses on new school development, technology and innovation. Having helped to create the design and founding team for the Chicago school, he arrived in Dubai in 2015, again to be on the design and founding team of Nations Academy, which subsequently merged with Dubai American Academy. Here, Thomas talks about his current portfolio of work and how he sees the future. In August 2017, I joined the Varkey Foundation on multiple new projects, including a new conference at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) - The Tomorrow Summit - A new offering focused on next generation technology and education in the developing world. In my role at GEMS, I do foresight research, look closely at weak and strong signals to inform change and suggest directions that GEMS should be taking in








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order to remain the most innovative company in the field of education. I am currently working on a school for the future design, new credentialing systems and our first company-wide block chain strategy. I’ve always seen my work as an alignment with what Sunny Varkey is committed to when he says: “There is no problem in the world that education cannot solve.” It takes critical thinking, imagination and creativity to do this, connecting with people to solve a problem – that’s what I hope I am an example of for GEMS. Looking to the future, GEMS Education has a meaningful and noble vision of what’s possible, with resources, reach and ambition being the organisation’s greatest assets. At GEMS Education, we are dedicated to breakthrough innovations. And I, and people like me, cannot rest until education is truly transformed. That’s why we spend our time digging and designing and imagining things yet to come. We are actually designing the future of education.

Wake Up, Shake Up

Sleep and Peak Academic Performance are Directly Linked

Dr Maryam Matar, Founder and Chairperson of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association shares her insights on how sleep is linked to academic peak performance. Several scientific studies show the negative impact of sleep deprivation among students and she recommends the community to start looking at sleep as an integral part of student welfare and performance. Recent studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health and working at peak performance. New research also highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory, especially for students, as evidence suggests that students getting adequate amounts of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than students deprived of sleep. Being drowsy, low energy and yawning are not the only signs that a student is getting too little sleep, with other symptoms including hyperactivity, crankiness, impulsiveness, and a short attention span. Epigenetics and Sleep The study of epigenetics has opened up innumerable opportunities for genetic researchers working on the human genome. Studies have shown that a great deal of epigenetic change occurs in our genome when suffering from a lack of sleep. Our bodies have a core set of genes which help determine nocturnal and diurnal cycles, sleep and wakefulness, and

maintenance of physiological systems. Lack of sleep, potentially, can influence the body’s ability to switch off ‘bad’ genes and thus, the probability of activating the risk of genetic disorders increases. Sleep and Peak Performance A 2014 study of 20,026 Swedish students demonstrated, via multivariate binary logistic regression analysis, that self-reported short sleep duration increased the risk to fail one or more subjects during the school year, with the highest odds for adolescents sleeping less than 7–8 hours on both school and weekend nights. Students reporting sleep disturbances had an approximately twofold higher relative risk to fail at least one subject during the school year.  The years spent in school are crucial as children are likely to form lifelong habits in these formative years. Inadequate sleep can negatively affect well-being, decision-making, attention, rational and social skills, all of which are necessary for success in school and later in all aspects of life.


As part of a holistic approach to education at GEMS Wellington School - Qatar, the entire school puts down their pencils and paper for a few moments each week to warm up for the day ahead in a programme known as ‘Wake Up, Shake Up’. Parents, teachers and students in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 love warming up their minds and bodies with a dynamic cardiovascular musical dance workout that makes exercise fun! A healthy body is linked to a healthy mind, and the school has experienced the beneficial effects of this workout both in the classroom and in strengthening the school community. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the programme is starting to go ‘viral’, with more teachers recognising the impact this warm up has on their students’ levels of productivity and engagement during classroom interaction. Many schools throughout the UAE have also started to do Wake Up, Shake Up, with promising results! “I THINK IT’S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THE SCHOOL DOES ON A MORNING. MY SON FEELS ENERGISED AFTER IT AND THIS HELPS HIM CONCENTRATE MORE!” - JANE MUFF, GEMS METROPOLE SCHOOL- MOTOR CITY

Because of sleep’s vital impact on the health and performance of students, regular bedtime habits are critical, and there is a need for parents, teachers and other adults to start a healthy conversation about this. This conversation, which should emphasise quality sleep patterns, is one of the most significant factors to shape the productivity, lifestyle and success of a child and their subsequent life as a productive, contributing member of a society. | 31


Relax, Renew, Revive GEMS New Millennium School - Al Khail organised a staff well-being week during December, which proved to be a great success with everyone involved!

Day One A selection of fun games, including Dumb Charades and the incredibly popular Indian song game Antakshari, which translates as ‘the game of the ending letter of any song’. This was a day that proved conclusively that the team that plays together stays together!

Day Two MS Outlook Training to achieve a better work/life balance - an INSET day for all administration staff to learn to effectively use MS Outlook.

Day Three Learning mentors re-lived their childhoods at the chilly morning Desert Safari. In the afternoon, our staff enjoyed watching ‘Anger Management’, starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler, complete with popcorn and soda... on the house!

Day Four Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s Secret. Secret Who? Secret Santa! Our administration team exchanged gifts with their Secret Santa colleagues, followed by more fun as the team indulged in a pot luck lunch, with food from various countries, carol singing, games, and dancing to ever-popular Christmas tunes.

Day Five

‘Take Charge of Your Health’ was the mantra for an exciting week of celebrations, with the school’s clinic conducting a health check-up for all staff. Expert advice was provided across a wide range of health issues, helping everyone to finish the week on a healthy, happy note.

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We continued to celebrate the ‘Year of Giving’ with the student community serving a lunch to the school’s support team with heart-felt love and thanks. The day ended with an exciting array of outdoor games, including cricket, tug-of-war, throw ball, and balloon stomping. Laughter filled the air as we closed for winter!

We see genius in every child.

Einstein said, “Every child is born a genius�. We agree. And we believe that a quality education is the key to unlocking the genius in every child.

Teach Around The World

Changing Futures Through Education Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an education crisis and the numbers are staggering. GEMS Africa Institutes of Teacher Training (GAITT) was founded in 2017 to push forward the GEMS global mission to put a quality education within the reach of every child‌



average GDP per capita


per woman CHILDREN

How GAITT is impacting education in Africa:

can make a DIFFERENCE

1. New schools, new teachers, more students. GAITT already has three institutes of teacher education and with each new training school comes the opportunity to train more teachers, up-skill more qualified teachers through a range of continuous professional development opportunities, and ultimately reach more children with a quality education.

4. Supported leadership pathways and training nurtures leaders from within GEMS Africa’s schools. Accredited educational leadership is the key to facilitating educational transformation from the ground up and provides valuable opportunities for career growth across the world.

2. Pre-service teacher training is at the heart of the GAITT mission. Providing high quality, in-situ, supported teacher training based on international best practice is the single most effective way to achieving quality education, particularly for the large number of unqualified teachers working in resource starved areas of Africa.

5. Global College Counseling gives as many students as possible the opportunity access higher education by preparing them to apply for scholarships at international universities.

3. High-impact, in-service teacher training contributes to raising teaching standards and opens up much-needed employment opportunities to qualified teachers who are currently out-ofwork.

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6. Creating partnerships to enhance corporate social responsibility awareness and service learning opportunities which pair teachers and other experts operating in different markets for valuable cross-cultural learning across socioeconomic boundaries.

Teach Around The World

Globally Connected, Locally Invested Global Citizenship Education enables young people to develop the core competencies that allow them to actively engage with the world, helping to make it a more just and sustainable place. Teachers are able to visit GEMS global classrooms and observe colleagues from around the world, exchanging professional experiences and ideas focused on teaching and learning. We spoke to Tracy Moxley, Head of Global Citizens Connections at GEMS Education, to find out more. How did you become involved in Global Citizenship Education? I’ve been involved with Global Citizenship for more than 20 years. I have always travelled and enjoyed how much you can grow as a person by those experiences. I was lucky enough to teach in a very progressive international school in Europe, where we co-constructed the curriculum with students around global education and set up a student led NGO. Starting the GEMS Global Connect is really exciting and the possibilities are endless. Our students will be able to learn about classrooms around the world and connect with peers in France, Chicago, India, Kenya, Uganda, Singapore, Switzerland…. The list is endless! What is Global Citizenship Education and why is it important? Our lives are increasingly affected by what happens in various parts of the world, we are interdependent and there are global challenges that affect everyone. This makes Global Citizenship central to not only education, but to our lives as humans on this planet. I believe that exploring and learning about culture, about people, and about the world is education. What methods are used in Global Citizenship Education? As with all learning, it should be as engaging and participatory as possible – involving debate, discussion, role-play, research and inquiry. It should encourage our students to understand how decisions made in one part of the world have an impact on another; that the decisions we make can affect the lives of others. That

their view may be just one of many, and sometimes it might be part of a dominant ideology and may be inaccurate! It sounds easy, but it’s not. Teaching global education is complex and challenging. But that challenge and struggle is part of what makes it so worthwhile. Can you share a personal experience? I will always remember taking my students to Goa and working with a children’s NGO there for three weeks. The students were cleaning, painting, building on one hand and then teaching younger students, and working in the slums (and no-one had ever been there before – including the teachers!). It was a life-changing experience for everyone. Students then went back as individuals to visit and volunteer for many years after because you make a connection on a human level that words can’t really explain. There are a number of student exchanges planned for this year and there will be many more stories to share I’m sure. How can staff get involved? I think exploring the curriculum to see where we can extend to include global education, current affairs, increasing student agency so that they have greater autonomy and ownership over their learning. Also, ensuring students can see connections with the work they are doing and the world around them. What’s the most challenging thing about the programme? The organisational aspects: building the student exchanges, liaising between many schools and communicating with everyone in the organisation can be a challenge. I think that creating viable and lasting connections across the group between staff, students and parents is the key challenge. What’s the most rewarding thing about the programme? There are many answers to this question too! To work with the GEMS mission in mind is very powerful – to provide a quality education for every child is rewarding in itself. I think having the opportunity to positively impact another life is a pretty amazing - knowing that a small act of kindness can do so much, is a big deal – that’s within your family, the school community and with technology and travel – to be able to reach out and learn about the world first-hand is a privilege. What could be more rewarding than that? | 35

Free Time

STS Drivers at Modern Say “Marhaba Mecca” Home accessories, a retro ride or a caffeine hit? Which of these are good to treat your loved ones?

Ideal Man, Ideal Society There are few activities more rewarding than helping other people: to give a little bit of yourself, to feel you’ve done some good in the world. The volunteers at the Dubai-based Model Service Society (MSS) understand this more than most, for they are proud members of this non-profit organisation that focuses on community transformation. We hear more about it from one active volunteer - Mr. Suhair Aboobakker, ICT Engineer at GEMS Winchester School - Dubai and currently an Executive Member and Coordinator of the Student Empowerment Programme (SEP).

At GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai, the staff chose none of them! Instead, the GEMS Modern teaching community, as well as the administrative staff, decided to give a special treat to their bus drivers at Christmas, sending 18 of them on a pilgrimage to Umrah. STS drivers who have served the school for more than 20 years were chosen for the pilgrimage, with Zahirulla, a Pakistani driver, commenting: “It is amazing how Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri-Lankans, Afghans and Indians can go together for Umrah; that is the secularity and the beauty of Dubai.” Ayub Khan, his colleague who has been with GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai for 28 years, added: “This initiative by the school is a positive and inspiring message for every institution in the country. A visit to the Prophet’s homeland… what more can we ask for? Thank you Modern!” This is the third consecutive time GEMS Modern Academy - Dubai has sponsored its ancillary staff to go on the Holy Pilgrimage. In June 2016, three of its support staff went to Umrah, while in December 2016 six members, comprising of a mother and her son, a husband and wife, and two bachelors, went together to the holy site.

Our motto at MSS is ‘Ideal Man, Ideal Society’. We have been working for the welfare and empowerment of all sections of the community for the past 26 years. We are blessed to have a large number of service-minded people from different walks of life as our dedicated members.   Over the years, we have been able to benefit many hundreds of people through our social, educational and health projects. Some of our projects have aimed to empower groups of students and women. We have also done a lot of work with migrant labourers – from food distribution to sports days. Other areas focus on: job placement blood donation and IT skills development. Our aim is to turn our camps into model camps by providing them with ongoing help. There are several activities planned for the months ahead, such as medical camps and running a medical awareness campaign. Everyone is welcome to join us at MSS – the more the merrier!

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Free Time

Willpower Knows No Obstacles

Lottie in Her Element - H20 “I love the spontaneity and opportunities that arise in life in Dubai, where you are constantly meeting and interacting with new people,” says Lottie Lucas, Aquatics Director at GEMS World Academy - Dubai. “I was lucky to meet triathletes, Brett and Kieran, in a swimming pool in Dubai. They shared with me their crazy ideas about being the first people to swim the entire 85km Dubai coastline, from the Sharjah border to the Abu Dhabi border. That is how the ‘Big Swim Dubai’ was born.” “We completed the 85km over eight consecutive weekends, tackling around 10km of coastline at a time,” Lottie continues. “Each 10km distance takes about 3000 front crawl strokes on each arm, so you may begin to imagine the tension and stress on the body!” The Big Swim Dubai project took three months of planning: mapping the swimming routes to include tides and obstructions, ensuring the correct NOCs, designing the website, organising boat and paramedic support, connecting with sponsors. “We were finally good to go at the start of October! But no training programme could fully prepare you for the thrills and challenges of the Dubai coastline. We have seen stingrays, lobsters, jellyfish and dolphins; we have swum against some strong currents; we have collected much plastic debris from the water.” In fact, as well as this being a personal challenge, the Big Swim Dubai aimed to raise awareness of waste plastic in the ocean, as Lottie explains: “This was part of a campaign called ‘Drop It’ (, which aims to encourage individuals in Dubai to reduce their consumption of plastic bottles, which causes terrible damage to the environment. It’s an environmental message that all staff should try and pass on to their students.” Instagram: @thebigswimdubai

“Honestly, from the moment I hit the gym I shut the world out! I put my headphones in and then it’s just me and the weights. It’s like a form of meditation. Seeing results drives me to push more and work harder,” says Rebecca Farrell, a committed bodybuilder and a teacher at GEMS Royal Dubai School. “From about the age of 19 I would run lots, and then in my early 20s I entered a few charity events (mostly running) to raise money after my grandmother and aunt both died from cancer,” Rebecca continues. “Whilst training for these and building up my stamina for running, I realised how much I enjoyed exercise. I have never been overweight, but I started to see my body change and my fitness levels increase. It became addictive and over time, rather than just running on the treadmill, I started going to classes at the gym. “From here I realised there was more to training than just running and I decided I wanted to ‘tone up’ and develop more shape to my physique. I began training and learnt more about weight training by the age of 25/26. I’d say I have been training more seriously now for about five or six years.”

That training has certainly paid off, with Rebecca recently getting to compete in the Arnold Classic Europe 2017 in Barcelona. “It was a dream come true! Throughout my 26-week preparation of training and dieting, the only thing that kept me focused and determined everyday was the thought of stepping on the Arnold’s Stage. It has always been a dream of mine and to achieve that goal and actually be up there with all the other top athletes in the world was incredible. It was an unforgettable experience and I’m so proud of myself for achieving it!”

FIRST FEMALE TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE! It is with great pride that we can share that one of our very own grade four teachers at GEMS World Academy - Switzerland, Melissa Pritchard, was the first woman to arrive at the finish line this year at the fifth edition of the Transcontinental Bike Race (TCR). TCR is one of the toughest annual ultra-endurance and ultra-distance cycling races across almost 4,000km of Europe, and Melissa completed the race in 13 days, one hour and 29 minutes. Each participant is free to plan their own route, but they had to pass by four checkpoints; • • • •

CP1 – Schloss Lichtenstein, Germany CP2 – Monte Grappa, Italy CP3 – High Tatras Mountains, Slovakia CP4 – Transfagarasan Highway, Romania

Initially, the race started off with 236 single riders and 28 paired riders challenge, but with the effects of heatwave Lucifer, the number of active participants went down to 160. The first place winner, James Hayden, finished in 8 days, 23 hours and 14 minutes. | 37


Talking to the New MD of STS, Steve Burnell We interviewed Steve Burnell, the Managing Director (MD) of School Transport Services (STS) and one of our trusted partners, to learn more about his journey. What attracted you to your new position? To put it plainly, being given the opportunity to join a great business and team that is so customer centric. We are a people business moving buses, not a bus business moving people - there is a big difference. What were you doing before and what is your background? I have had the privilege to work for some great companies that are associated with passenger transport, including Virgin Atlantic Airways, National Express Group, and Veolia Transport. For the past nine years in Dubai I worked at Serco. This involved working closely with the RTA on the Dubai bus network and assisting with the launch of the Dubai Metro, ensuring that passenger services were aligned and integrated. I also had the pleasure of working with the Transport Department at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain. I conducted a full review of how their female student transport was managed, and then implemented sustainable business improvements required for safe, efficient, cost-effective and customer-focused transport services. For the last two years at Serco, I was the Bid Director for large railway infrastructure projects within the GCC. These were exciting projects, but completely different to working within a customer service delivery business like STS. What is your vision for STS? My vision is for us to be a role model business within the GCC transport sector, a business where we are the best in everything we do. A business that is progressive and committed to growth, with a team that is determined to provide our customers service excellence. What will you bring to the business? I am a people person and passionate about driving growth and delivering service excellence. Managers can use complicated words to describe what they will bring to the business. Business processes are not complex; it’s people that create the complexity. There are no awards for creating complex processes that are both time consuming and costly. Progressive businesses make things simple, they are clear on what is required from the team, they are prepared for change and always looking at how to develop and improve.

38 | GEMS People Connect February 2018

How do you see STS evolving over the next five years? STS will grow and the team will develop and grow with the business. We will expand into new countries within the GCC and will broaden our service portfolio. We will be innovative and will always strive to improve our systems and become smarter with new technology. This will support us in being the ‘go to’ provider of passenger transportation, especially within the education sector. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the company in the years ahead? With our growth, we must maintain and look to exceed the high standards. We need to strive towards becoming the employer of choice in passenger transportation. Everything we do will be safe, timely and smart.

GEMS People Connect Issue 2  

Recognising Extraordinary Talent

GEMS People Connect Issue 2  

Recognising Extraordinary Talent