Revealed: Who is the best school librarian in the UAE?

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The winners of the ‘School Librarian of the Year Awards 2021’ were announced on Monday at a ceremony in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The winners of the ‘School Librarian of the Year Awards 2021’ were announced on Monday at a ceremony in Dubai.

In association with the Executive Council of Dubai, the awards were presented by Emirates Literature Foundation to recognise the individuals who have demonstrated “outstanding commitment” to promoting reading for pleasure among students over the past 18 months.

Distance learning have made this “the most challenging year” since the launch of the awards, and judges were “particularly impressed” with the nominees’ efforts to raise academic and literacy standards within the restrictions.

Shumous Majid Bin Faris, Strategic Development Advisor at the General Secretariat of Executive Council of Dubai, said: “These librarians have played an essential role in promoting literacy amongst students, and enriching their knowledge and education, and they have all gone the extra mile during these challenging circumstances to reinforce education standards and enable students through knowledge.”

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation, said: “School librarians are in a unique position to influence children to read books for pleasure, and we know this is one of the most important gifts we can give the next generation. Reading for pleasure enhances their literacy, their comprehension of the world, and enhances their critical thinking skills.”

She added: “It is important not only for their education, but also for the huge lifelong wellbeing benefits it can bring. Every year I am impressed by the school librarians who enter, but never more so than this year. In the face of insurmountable and severely limiting circumstances brought on by the pandemic, these individuals have made heroic efforts to bring the joy and solace of books to the children in their schools.”

Exceptional evaluation

Nominations were received from schools across the seven emirates and assessed by a panel of judges. For the first time this year, judges visited the shortlisted librarians virtually ahead of the final decision, in line with the COVID-19 safety guidelines. The award was judged in two categories: school librarians from UAE public schools and school librarians from UAE private schools.

Winners – private schools

1st: Sonia Alnahawi, Aspen Heights British School (Abu Dhabi)

2nd: Teejay Button, Raha International School (Abu Dhabi)

3rd: Jessica Scherneck, German International School (Dubai)

Winners – Public schools

1st: Hend Al Ateeqi, Madinat Khalifa A School (Abu Dhabi)

2nd: Ekramy Ahmad Sayed, Secondary Model School (Sharjah)

3rd: Afra Al Yammahi, Al Dhait School – Cycle 1 (Ras Al Khaimah)

Special recognition: Jericho Diano, Summit International Schools (Abu Dhabi)