Aparna Verma was only 17 years-old and younger than many of her students, when she inherited Dubai Scholars Private School.
Yet, over the past 30 years she has steered the Scholar’s Group expansion from single Villa school to Pan-Emirate school group.
As CEO, she’s overseen Scholar’s Dubai from villa school to purpose built campus, added a branch of Scholars in Sharjah (Scholars International Academy) and this year,she opened the inimitable and some would say, ‘bespoke’ Clarion School, the progressive US curriculum campus linked to the renowned Bank Street College of Education in New York for KG through to grade 3. The school will expand to offer Middle and High School in the coming years.
Via each of her schools, Verma strived to offer the very best educational offering, whether that be Dubai Scholars with its 2016 outstanding examination results, or Scholars Academy achieving its first BSO inspection (one of only two schools in the Emirate of Sharjah to opt for inspection). And of course at Clarion, where the co-teacher model has been implemented and the one-off curriculum, specific to the Dubai environment has been over two years in development by the Bank Street team.
How long have you worked in the UAE?
What made you choose the education sector?
Personal tragic circumstances and a legacy.
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the industry in the UAE?
To me, the greatest challenges are getting quality teachers.
With the oversupply of schools and the number of schools opening every year, the pool of teachers is only getting smaller. Also without much regulation, there is no really deterrent for teachers to constantly jump from school to school, creating a lack of stability and commitment to the school and the children. I fear it will only get worse as the pool of teachers get smaller.
There are not a lot of people entering into the teaching profession, as it is a commitment of another level.
What are the key milestones in your career so far?
My very first milestone was bigger than I ever imagined - building Dubai Scholars and taking it from a villa school to a purpose-built school.
Following that I opened a new school in Sharjah, Scholars International Academy, a purpose built school in the then new Education Zone. It was one of the first schools in the Zone and was accompanied by all the headaches of a new school in a new zone.
This year, after a nine-year break from building, I opened Clarion School, our new school.
My milestones truly reflect the life I lead. Furthering the education landscape in Dubai to benefit the children of Dubai is my underling motivation. These milestones have made me grow beyond my own dreams, what I thought I was capable of and the barriers that have come in the way.
What do you think is your greatest achievement, in education, to date - and why?
I think my greatest achievement is the success of my students. When my students aspire to be good human beings, go on to the top universities, get jobs at some of best companies in the world and make a difference in people’s lives, I am grateful that I have been a part of that.
Name three things which get you up and motivate you each day?
My students, my passion for their well-being and wanting to be different and do something different.
What would you still like to achieve in your professional life?
I would like to increase my personal, direct contact with students in this younger generation and aspire them to be who they want to be. To leave no stone unturned in working to achieve their dreams and to follow their passion.
What is your advice for others hoping to emulate your success?
Be true to yourself. Do not compromise on your values and ethics and be passionate about what you do and go for it.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of working in education?
The students! I learn something new from them every day…