Dubai: Longest-serving GEMS teacher retires after 41 years

Daisy Justus had the privilege of being interviewed by late K.S. Varkey, father of GEMS Education Founder and Chairman, Sunny Varkey


Nandini Sircar

Published: Mon 13 Dec 2021, 3:45 PM

GEMS Education paid tribute to the remarkable career of the group’s longest-serving teacher, Daisy Justus, who spent 41 years before she recently retired.

Justus was a senior English Teacher at GEMS Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a.

Speaking to Khaleej Times while looking back on her remarkable career in education, Justus said, “I came to the UAE in 1978 and joined what was then Our Own English High School in September 1980."

"I had the privilege of being interviewed by the late K.S. Varkey himself (father of Sunny Varkey, GEMS Education Founder and Chairman) and was guided through my profession by Madam Mariamma Varkey who passed away earlier this year,” she added.

The veteran teacher explained how her students have been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement even while navigating through challenging times.

“I am driven by a passion for the profession of teaching. What I have always loved about teaching is that I could inspire, and be inspired by the young minds that enter my classroom every day, and make a difference in their lives," said Justus.

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“One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the delivery of the curriculum. When I started out, it was the ‘talk and chalk’ method. Now, teaching is multidimensional. I believe that as teachers it is our responsibility to not just deliver a lesson, but also support and inspire students to be critical thinkers and compassionate individuals and help them develop a mind-set of innovation,” she added.

At the end of her career she counts her blessings and the zealous colleagues and quality mentors she came across.

She opines, “I had the most encouraging and rewarding experience at Our Own (High School). Words cannot express the support and the sustenance I received all through my journey, from the management, senior leadership team and colleagues. I am indebted to this country and its visionary leaders for providing the multicultural environment and opportunity for everyone to grow and prosper.”

Shedding light on the challenges that the teachers faced during the pandemic, she underlines, “During the pandemic lockdown period, our students and staff had to adjust quickly. Our priority was ensuring a smooth continuation of teaching and learning for all our students and caring for their well-being through an unprecedented event. Teaching through a screen daily was challenging. However, our students also helped and supported us – we’re always learning from each other.

“Teachers further opined while technology and digital platforms dominated their profession last year and in many ways are here to stay, but they also learnt that the human element of teaching can never be replaced.”

Justus then highlighted how the profession is one of the most influential forces for equity, access and quality in education and is key to sustainable development.

She avers, “Teaching - the noblest of professions, enabled me to sculpt generations of students who ‘lead the light of knowledge’, making a mark wherever they choose to be. The challenges faced during this enlightening journey were milestones that made me stronger and worthier in all my endeavours.”

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