4 GEMS teachers reflect on their ‘sheroes’

Matt James, Assistant Principal Secondary, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis

In 2011, my sister’s first born son, Archie, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I’ve always seen my sister as my little sister. She was the little girl who I would avoid in school, the girl who would invite friends over to the house and annoy me with their music, the one who would tell our mother when I had done something wrong. I have always loved my sister but it wasn’t until 2011 that I realised how much I admired her.

I didn’t see a little girl anymore. In front of me was this tower of strength, a rock, a hero. My sister. Lauren James.

We all cried and, no doubt, she cried more than any of us, but the inner-strength that she showed, to pull her family closer to her to make sure that Archie’s remaining years on this earth were ones filled with happiness and love, proved to me just how wonderful a woman she is.

Becky Lewis, Vice Principal, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis

Grandmothers are remarkable women, a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, love and laughter.

International Women’s Day is a reminder to pause and reflect on the women who made a difference to our lives, who inspired us and who instilled values in us to make us who we are today or aspire to be, and this year my thoughts went straight to my grandmother.

My grandmother instilled in me a love of learning, she taught me to always dream big following my passion for performing arts and the importance of lifelong learning. In her 80s, she continued to study for her seventh degree! She inspired me to be who I am today, urging me to continue to study and achieve my MA in Educational Leadership. My grandmother was and will continue to be the biggest role model in my life.

Jenny Evans, Deputy Principal, GEMS Royal Dubai School

My Mum is inspirational in so many ways, but her passion for science and being a ‘woman in science’ is part of what makes me proud to be her daughter. She is a senior microbiologist who provides expertise to drug development projects for a major, global pharmaceutical company. She is passionate about ensuring product quality as medicines are approved for human use. She loves what she does, and continues to lead the way even after 40 years in the field of science. One of the aspects of her role that makes her feel most accomplished is when she is able to coach and mentor apprentices who are new to the industry. This links very closely to my philosophy of school leadership. We’re more alike than we would care to admit – except I know nothing about science!

Dr Saima Rana, Principal/CEO, GEMS World Academy – Dubai

“This has been a year we couldn’t have imagined, and I’m surrounded by women who are all coping brilliantly with these new challenges. They have been resourceful, smart, resilient and creative in dealing with the terrible pressures the pandemic has brought to bear. They have combined the practical with an emotional intelligence that has meant that in this time of heartbreaking crisis they have been enterprising, down-to-earth and steadfast under pressure. They’ve been work companions who have combined a care for the job-in-hand with an equal care for the people they work with, and been what we all need in such stressful times – powerhouses of strength and support: Elmarie Venter, Kristen Murphy, Vinaya Shenoy, Aukse Lightbody, Ahwina Houpapa, Karen Nyborg, Lyndsay Gray, Phoebe Taylor and Shelley Biggins and there are so many more…”