Sharjah: An Indian teacher in the UAE has won the ‘2021 Dedicated Teacher Award’ by Cambridge University Press for going the extra mile during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annamma Lucy, a social studies teacher at GEMS Our Own English High School Sharjah-Boys’ Branch, won from 13,000 nominations in 112 countries. She had in April won the award’s Middle East and North Africa category, Gulf News had then reported.
This year, students were encouraged to thank teachers who are “going above and beyond” their duty during the pandemic. After being nominated for the award by her students and colleagues, Lucy was chosen as one of six regional winners by a panel of judges and then gained more than 30 per cent of the public vote in the final to secure the top spot.
During the pandemic, Lucy created a ‘Learning Journey’ programme that was attended by 82 students during the summer holidays. She organised motivational speakers and teachers from other schools in the GEMS group to talk to students. Her volunteer work had first started when she was a child. During the summer holidays, all of the other students would go home to their families, but the Good Shepherd nuns would take Lucy to different villages in India to volunteer. She would teach the children to dance and play sports.
Beyond the classroom
Sunitha Sudhakaran at GEMS Our Own English High School Sharjah-Boys’ Branch nominated Annamma for the award. She said: “Ms Annamma Lucy prepares kids for the road ahead in life. A teacher whose impact goes beyond the classroom. She is an inspiration not only for me but for all teacher community. As a social studies teacher, I see her encouraging her students to respect women, patriotism, good deeds, and I am proud to say she is my colleague.”
Who is she?
Lucy has been a teacher for 23 years. Originally from Bengaluru, India, she lost her parents when she was three years old and was taken in by the Good Shepherd nuns. She began her teaching career in 1997 at the Good Shepherd Convent Girls’ High School, before moving to the UAE in 2007 for a position at GEMS Our Own English School, where she teaches Grades 7 and 8 social studies.
Lucy’s students said she has “time for each and every student” and is “always welcoming with a warm smile and a fun activity”.
What she won
Along with the title of the award, Lucy will receive Dh2,578 (£500) worth of Cambridge University Press books for her school. She will also be invited to take part in the Cambridge Panel, an online community of specialists who shape the Press’ education publishing. Lucy will appear on a ‘Thank You’ page in every Cambridge University Press Education book published from May 2021. Lucy and her school will now feature in the Press’ worldwide promotion of the Dedicated Teacher Awards, appearing on the website, annual catalogues and other promotional resources.
‘I feel overwhelmed’
Lucy said: “I feel overwhelmed with joy after winning this prestigious award and it motivates me for years to come. I truly believe that this success is because of ‘we’ and not because of ‘me’. I would like to thank first and foremost my students, and I would also like to thank the Good Shepherd nuns, teachers and parents for supporting me to get here. Lastly, thank you to Cambridge University Press for this amazing opportunity.”
‘Building brighter futures’
Dr Kenan Barut, Director for Education and English language teaching in the Middle East and North Africa, at Cambridge University Press, said: “I would like to congratulate this year’s winner, Annamma, on behalf of everyone at Cambridge University Press. Inspirational teachers such as Annamma help to build brighter futures for young people. Sharing important values and preparing students for life beyond the classroom not only changes their lives for the better, but improves the world for everyone. This past year has highlighted teachers’ extraordinary efforts to continue their students’ learning, even when schools were closed.”