• Students, alumni, parents and staff join school's 40th anniversary celebrations
• Her Excellency Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of SPEA, attends event
• OOS has grown from porta-cabin classes to one of Sharjah's largest schools
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates: GEMS Our Own English High School – Sharjah, Girls (OOS) marked its 40th anniversary on 27 October, celebrating four decades of delivering high-quality education, supporting student success and serving the Sharjah community with distinction.
It was a proud and joyous moment for OOS students, parents, alumni, leaders, teachers and support staff, who all gathered on campus to celebrate the significant milestone in the school's journey, and to look forward to the next 40 years and beyond.
Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “The teachers, admin and leadership at Our Own English High School – Sharjah, Girls give their all to ensure the children and families in their care are fulfilling their promise and potential. Four decades is a lifetime, and many lives have been impacted for the better because of what this school has been able to achieve. I hope that OOS continues to be that leading light for another 40 years.”
The lively event took guests on a nostalgic journey through the decades of the school's growth and achievements. The school began as just a few porta cabins in Ajman when it first opened in 1982. It then moved to a seven-acre campus in 1990, quickly growing to become one of the largest schools in Sharjah.
The last 10 years of the school's story have seen exponential change and growth – a result of the school's culture of collaboration and the leadership of the school's principal, Ms Asma Gilani, who has led the school for 15 years. Under Ms Gilani's direction, the school has been the recipient of prestigious educational awards from three emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – including the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award, Sheikh Hamdan Award, and Sharjah Excellence Award for Academic Excellence. The school has also been awarded the Green Flag for four consecutive years.
Ms Asma Gilani, Principal, GEMS Our Own English High School – Sharjah, Girls, said: “Our Own Sharjah Girls is an institution of hope and possibilities, great care and skillful instruction, always exemplifying the highest professional standards. Our 40th anniversary celebrations are dedicated to every teacher who takes a bold step towards new learning, to every student brave enough to respond to challenges and to every parent who accepts change.
“OOS girls have made commendable strides in both academic and extra-curricular activities. We have nurtured young women to do what they want to do – lead. These are young women who are firmly anchored in their values, thrive on competition, respond to challenges with optimism, and apply what they learn at school in complex situations. We honour and acknowledge the dedication and willingness of our teachers who align so strongly with the school vision. They are undeniably some of the best teachers in the region, exhibiting solidarity and resoluteness in the face of pressure.”
The event was attended by dignitaries from Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), including Her Excellency Dr Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson, SPEA, who praised the school for its contribution to the emirate's education landscape and the leadership's commitment to teacher training, and felicitated the long-serving members of staff.
The engagement and passion of OOS staff received praise from Dr Hunada Kanbar, Chief Education Officer and Assistant Professor at Sharjah Education Academy, who said: “It is indeed heartening to announce that out of 7,000 educators, the top 20 active teachers on the Sharjah Education Academy platform for professional development are from Our Own English High School – Sharjah, Girls.”
Mr Ziad Shatat, Director of the Continuous Improvement Department and Project Manager at SPEA, said: “OOS is a beautiful school in the emirate of Sharjah. It is distinguished for being among the 20 top performing schools in the international benchmarking assessment, PISA. The school is a child-friendly and happy school that ensures a safe environment with a positive ethos. This was made evident in the survey conducted by SPEA, in which 91 per cent of students, 93 per cent of parents and 100 per cent of teachers indicated their overall satisfaction.”
Anniversary celebrations included dance performances from students, guest speeches and 70 members of staff being recognised and awarded for their long service. Indeed, a markedly high number of staff have been with OOS for more than 30 years – most notably Ms Sangeeta Giridhar, the school's longest-serving member of staff, who has worked at the school for 33 years.
Ms Sangeeta Giridhar, Hindi Teacher at Our Own English High School – Sharjah, Girls, said: “Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own. It requires the ability to adapt by being open to change and growth, and it only happens when we know where and when to begin. I thank OOS for being a place of growth and success for me.”
OOS has students from a diverse socio-economic background and yet consistently produces high academic results – senior students are often Gulf, UAE and GEMS toppers in the CBSE Grade 10 and 12 examinations. Students from OOS have gone on to study at some of the most prestigious universities in the world, such as Purdue, University of Toronto, University of Houston and Rochester Institute of Technology.