Three pioneering teachers in the UAE capital have been honoured for their contribution to the profession during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rebecca Vasconcelos, class teacher at Gems World Academy; Michele Pienaar, science teacher at Abu Dhabi International Private School; and Santhi Gopinathan, computer science teacher at Abu Dhabi Indian School, were declared winners of the World Teachers' Day Awards 2021.
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), the emirate's education regulator, also launched a dedicated hotline for teachers.
It serves as a direct communication channel for teachers at Abu Dhabi’s private and charter schools to share suggestions and opinions, and have questions answered.
Both initiatives came on World Teachers' Day, which is celebrated across the world on October 5, to highlight the crucial work teachers do and the challenges they face.
Selecting the teachers followed a rigorous process, with schools nominating candidates and Adek's judging panel choosing the top three.
Teachers were judged on how they made an impact in their classrooms and on the learning outcomes of pupils, what set them apart from their peers, and how they have made a difference to their organisations. How they dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic was also considered.
“I am incredibly honoured to have won this award," said Ms Vasconcelos.
"It symbolises a token of appreciation and recognition for all teachers who have chosen to take on one of the hardest years in education and positively reflect it into meaningful life experiences for themselves, their pupils and their learning community."
The winners each received Etihad business class return tickets to a destination of their choice, flowers and a trophy.
Sara Musallam, the chairwoman of Adek, said it was a moment to thank all of Abu Dhabi's teachers for their hard work, dedication and passion.
“They have made a truly life-changing impact on their pupils and school community, inspiring countless young minds, acting as role models and mentors," she said.
Ms Pienaar said her pupils had made it easy for her to love her job, while Ms Gopinathan said teachers needed to be patient as no two pupils are the same.
"It is important to have a passion for this profession and one must merely not view this as just a job," she said.
Adek has also launched "welcome to your new home", a guide for teachers joining schools in the emirate to help them understand the emirate's education system and explore Abu Dhabi.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and Dubai's private education regulators, also took to social media to appreciate the work of teachers on World Teachers' Day, while parents and pupils were invited to pay tributes to their favourite teachers.