The awards recognise outstanding Heads of Schools, including bothPrincipals and Superintendents, who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for all their students.
Nominated by peers, and chosen by a judging panel, Nargish Khambatta was taken by “surprise” when her name was announced as the winner.
“I didn’t apply for this and it was a very overwhelming experience. I feel its not about me or my work but my peer group. Leadership is a privilege and I was a representative of my peer group. Its also a manifestation of what the school stands for and the work the whole team does. I am just a face to receive the award.”
She received a cash prize of US$75,000, which she said she found difficult to digest and convert into Dirhams (273,000 AED).
We asked Ms Khambatta what she planned to do with the prize money…?
“I have been to my accountant to find out how we can set up a staff welfare fund, as I would like to put 50% of the prize money into that. This is basically for the staff who need extra cash and instead of taking a bank loan, we can help them from within the school. It’s the contribution of my team that has got me to where I am and this is my way of honouring the award itself. It’s a legacy I want to leave.”
Apart from the staff welfare fund, Nargish also want to go on a relaxing holiday for a few days.
The nominated Heads of Schools were evaluated using several criteria including responsiveness to needs and strengths of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds; understanding of the curriculum; and assessment and reporting requirements, while also demonstrating innovative practices that engage and support all students.
Simon O'Connor, Principal & CEO of Jumeriah College was named the runner–up and received a cash prize of 91,000 AED (US $25,000). The other three finalists received US $10,000.
The top five finalists of the GEMS Exceptional Head of School were - Matthew Burfield, GEMS Founders School- Al Barsha; Asma Gilani, Our Own English High School- Sharjah Girls; Ruth Burke, GEMS Wellington International School; Nargish Khambatta, GEMS Modern Academy; and Simon O’Connor, Jumeirah College.