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A School of Resilience, Grit, and Tenacity

by Eddie Rayner

What makes a school? We speak to Sheela George, the Principal at ASPAM Indian International School in Sharjah (ASPAM IIS), to get an insight into how she runs her school.

Does it come down to the teachers, the facilities, the student body, or even school inspections, or perhaps it is a combination of all? An often-quoted phrase suggests that ultimately the leadership determines the fate of a country. Can the same principle be applied to a school model?

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make, not least because your child’s happiness is of primary importance to their education. That’s why, at ASPAM IIS, we endeavour to provide a joyful, safe and stimulating environment, helping our students to develop their full potential through a well-balanced curriculum.

Values and Principles

With the tagline ‘I am me. I am unique’ ASPAM IIS operates with high standards, and a complex set of factors, sharing beliefs and priorities that drive the thinking and actions of all stakeholders of the school. The Chinese philosopher Laozi once said that ‘A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. ASPAM IIS has made one step at a time in all its endeavours.

We believe in creating engaging and effective learning experiences for our students. We abide by our principle that every child is unique in multiple ways. Myriad opportunities are created inside and outside of the classroom to bring out the hidden potential and recognise every child for their talent and skill. At ASPAM IIS, it is all about what we can do with what we know. Resilience, grit, and tenacity are nurtured among the staff and students, as we constantly persevere in our efforts to progress and develop.

A Well-rounded Education

To educate hearts and inspire minds, ASPAM IIS integrates social and emotional learning, sustainable green practices, and global identity in scholastic and co-scholastic subjects. Activities framed in science and maths lessons are integrated with values such as relationships skills and resolve. Learning spaces are created in the classroom and the corridors for students to strengthen their creativity and innovation and to become empowered.

For example, science in kindergarten happens in the exploratory room, while primary, middle, and senior school students learn by going on field trips and performing experiments in laboratories.

Leadership Style

As a school leader, I mostly use thought leadership with a combination of servant leadership, instructional leadership, and democratic leadership styles. I also use courageous leadership during challenging times and when I have to bring equity into the work atmosphere, as this brings in a feeling of satisfaction when everybody can correctly use their skills and potential.

Empowering Teachers and Students

A culture of positivity is tangible around the school. Students play a central role, and the school has a strong student council body. We empower students by encouraging them to integrate innovation in all that they do and give them the courage to face challenges with grit and resilience. Similarly, teachers are empowered by providing ample opportunities to explore, take charge, work with the team, and share their best practices and ideas.

Opening year: 2013
Curriculum: CBSE
Grades: Kindergarten to Grade 12
Number of students: 750
Number of staff: 110
Nationality of students and staff: 13 nationalities – Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Iraqis, Canadians, Americans, Polish, Kenyans, Sudanese, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos and Omanis
Co-curricular activities: Campaigns to build sustainable practices and promote wellness. Students participate in global student exchange programs and are taken on field trips that are connected with their curriculum
Languages: Arabic is mandatory, French and Hindi are optional