UAE Portrait of a Nation: ‘Distinguished Teacher’ inspires students to discover talents

Finding, and helping to create, the country’s star pupils was an unexpected mission for this Emirati teacher, but it was one that was designed to fit.
Dr Hanadi Al Suwaidi of the Sharjah Education Zone’s giftedness and innovation department. Sarah Dea / The National
Dr Hanadi Al Suwaidi of the Sharjah Education Zone’s giftedness and innovation department. Sarah Dea / The National

SHARJAH // Dr Hanadi Al Suwaidi is on a quest to tap into the creativity and innovation that lies in the minds of Emirati students.

“When I was at school, I was always trying to be the best pupil, to achieve the highest grades and to excel in everything that I did,” said the Emirati, who lives in Sharjah.

Although she originally planned to study interior design, she ended up enrolling in a science course at the United Arab Emirates University and began teaching at schools in her home emirate soon after graduating.

She quickly discovered she had any eye for spotting talent.

“I love to teach and to discover the gifted and talented students in my classes. It was a passion for me to discover them and help them excel in studies or hobbies.”

In 2003, Dr Al Suwaidi was the youngest person to receive the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Teacher of the Year.

Twelve months later she was honoured by the Sharjah Education Zone for her commitment to excellence in the classroom.

While studying for her master’s and Phd in Bahrain, Dr Al Suwaidi, who paints and writes in her spare time, was so overwhelmed with sadness at the passing of Sheikh Zayed in 2004 that she created a UAE National Day gallery at her university.

“I divided the gallery into two sections, one for my artwork, which included oil and acrylic painting, and the other was about Sheikh Zayed’s accomplishments,” she said.

“It was to show the students how much our late leader was loved.”

The gallery was visited by the UAE ambassador in Bahrain.

Dr Al Suwaidi’s line of work requires her to be highly motivated, which means downtime is precious.

“Whenever I need to recharge my energy I turn to the sea and nature,” she said.

“I read and write poetry, which helps me to regain my motivation to continue my work.”

Dr Al Suwaidi also works as coordinator at the giftedness and innovation department at the Sharjah Education Zone where she helps to prepare lessons and workshops that help teachers to spot and nurture talented students.

School staff are given training courses on which they learn how to carry out assessments and IQ tests, encourage creativity and guide high-achieving pupils to reach their potential.

They are given instruction on how to introduce creative and critical thinking into classes, as well as introducing other mentally challenging activities for pupils.

Dr Al Suwaidi has written several papers in the field of gifted education and published the book A Guide into Giftedness last year.

She also participated in a series of programmes titled “Gifted but ...” on Sharjah Radio last year where she discussed how to help children discover their talents and address the problems faced by tutors and parents.

Between 2008 to 2010 she was the UAE’s representative at the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and also a member of the Asian-Pacific Federation on Giftedness from 2012 until last year.

She was also a judge at the Emirates Awards for Educational Excellence and the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum awards.

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Published: December 3, 2015 04:00 AM

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