Meet 3 UAE teachers who wouldn't trade their job for anything else

As World Teachers' Day is celebrated across the country, these women share their stories and what inspires them to go to school every day



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File photo
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 5:56 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 6:23 PM

"There is no job more important than teaching children," reckons Emirati teacher Alia Al Suwaidi, whose passion for teaching started in her childhood when she used to teach her toys.

Alia is among a group of dedicated teachers in the UAE who want to share their stories as World Teachers’ Day is marked all around the globe on October 5.

For Alia, a Homeroom teacher in the KG1 section at Dubai Schools, Al Barsha, “becoming a teacher has been a childhood dream.”

She used to stack up her toys and pretend to teach them. "I had wonderful teachers growing up and that embedded the love of learning in me. This is what got me into this profession, to create a love for learning in my children. There is no job more important than teaching children who are the future leaders of the world,” Alia said.

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Raised in Abu Dhabi and educated at Adnoc Schools, Alia later went to Zayed University, following which she took up Early Childhood Education.

As an educator, she often thinks back and reflects on the teachers who made a difference in her life. “One of them was Ms Heather. She was my history teacher. She wouldn’t just teach us from a book – she was hands-on and interactive. She believed in thinking outside the box. I met her a few days ago and told her that I became a teacher because of you."

“It’s incredibly rewarding to know that I am the reason that young minds will be moulded into future thinkers and leaders. I also want to be a caregiver for them and don’t want them to see me only as ‘teacher who they have to listen to, but give them a safe and loving environment,” she adds.

Shedding light on how the UAE and its leaders believe in education as a building block of any successful society, Alia says, “The UAE is at the forefront of education, and Dubai Schools is a project initiated and supported by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. To have that support from a leader of his stature is what propels us to do what we do. Another driving force is knowing that no other profession would exist without the existence of teachers.”

Sajida Al Bashir: An educator for over 25 years

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Sajida was born in Amman, Jordan, but is originally from Palestine. She taught in Jordan for a year, after which, she took up teaching in Dubai and has been doing so for over two-and-a-half decades. Ten of these years have been at Repton Dubai School and she is now an Assistant Head Teacher at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai.

She teaches Islamic Education, Arabic and Social Studies to her much-loved students whom she addresses as “my family”.

“Every school that I have worked in has been a minimum of six years. I was in Repton for a decade; before that, I was with Dubai British School (DBS) for six years. I believe in working in a school for several years as I want to see the fruits of my labour – to see my students grow in front of me.”

Sharing a secret on recruitment of new teachers, she says, “When I look at their resumes, I always try to gauge how many years did a teacher spend in his/her previous school. When you start a relationship, you want to see it grow. This will not happen if you keep on moving from one school to another. You should stay long enough for your students and their families to trust you.”

How her pupils remember their teacher is important for Sajida. “You want to be remembered as a kind and caring person. As a teacher who helps children fall in love with their chosen subjects. Children should love coming to school. It’s a huge responsibility for us because teachers impact their students not only during their school lives but even as they move on, and in their later lives.”

A mother of four, Sajida has been instrumental in the advancement of progressive teaching methodologies in Arabic across the UAE and beyond. Calling herself a life-long learner, she underlines what has made her teach every day for over two decades. “Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes when I see my students in the morning, greeting me. For me, this is the best moment. I know how important I am to them. Students spend more time with us than with their parents, and you have to make it the best time for them. I know I am important to them and they are to me.”

Yasemin Kemal: Inspiring art

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Art teacher Yasemin Kemal has only spent only a couple of years with a school in Dubai. But the British national has already had a phenomenal impact on the community.

The Gems Wellington Academy – Al Khail teacher is on a mission to ensure each child in her class experiences success with their artistic skills.

Students love her lessons and feel they have the ability to flourish in her classes. A talented artist in her own right, she also creates works in several mediums that are highly sought-after.

Passing on her talent to the students is what she values the most. She avers, “One of my students qualified as a teacher. It was a truly remarkable moment for me. That’s because it was just not about teaching them artistic skills but also giving them the push to take up teaching.”

Recalling what motivated and inspired her, and identifying the person behind her talent, Yasemin says, “It was Annie from the UK. She gave me all the skills she had, and also had an impact on me like no other. She enabled me to become the HoD when I was in the UK. She helped me to progress in my career and as a result, I see the quality of a student’s work from her vision.”

A teacher for 15 years with international experience, she has worked in the UK and Cyprus. Her recent artwork was even chosen to be used on Cyprus's new postage stamps.

And what brings Yasemin to school every day? "It is the work atmosphere. It’s not about working in the most luxurious building, it’s the 'softness' in the atmosphere that makes a person want to come back to teach every day.”

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