Dubai teacher bids farewell after 34 years of service

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KHDA chief pays visit to felicitate GEMS Modern Academy teacher Celine Ribeiro.

It’s been an emotional past few days for Celine Ribeiro who will bid her final farewell to GEMS Modern Academy (GMA) this week, after an extraordinary 34-year teaching career at the school.

She is overwhelmed with the outpouring of tributes not only from students and colleagues from around the world but the school was joined in its celebrations of Celine’s stellar career by Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Around 700 logged in for her final, virtual school assembly, where acknowledgements were made to her unquenchable dedication as she relentlessly worked for the welfare of her students.

Celine whose final day on the job is Thursday, says she knew there was never going to be a perfect time to retire.

“The school is stuck on my heart strings. Somewhere, I was finding it difficult to accept that these are my last days in school. It’s been a two- way process. I have taught students and I have learnt so much from them as well. My students have taught me things like how to use my mobile efficiently or finding a lost file on the laptop, things that our generation may not be so adept at, but the younger generation is smart”, says Celine laughingly.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me as I bid goodbye to the ‘Modern Family’ after having been a part of the school from the day it opened with portacabins as classrooms. I started off as a Grade 3 teacher, then became Head of Primary, till I went on to serve in my current role. That time the school was called Modern High School and then the name changed quite a few times. So, I’ve seen it all right from the scratch.”

However, Dr Karam really encouraged me when he visited the school on Monday and we had a candid chat. He thanked me for my services to the UAE and explained that as I move forward, it’s an opportunity for me to grow in a different direction and plunge myself into newer things. So, that really changed my perspective”, says the retiring teacher who currently holds the position of the Head of Policy and Compliance at Gems Modern Academy.

The 68-year old teacher who returns to Mumbai (India) would leave Dubai for good on December 24. She says, “I’d be back just before Christmas and I intend getting into community service once I am there… the values and the principles that I have stood by and taught my students, all these years.”

She adds, “I was quite touched during my farewell when a song was especially composed for me and our Principal Mrs Khambatta asked my colleagues to pick one letter from my first name and share a quality that they associate with me. So, someone said ‘compassion’, someone else said ‘elegance’. I really cherished it and felt so humbled. It’s been an enjoyable and memorable 34 years with Modern. Although Covid-19 has changed the education system quite a bit, I’ll definitely miss the morning chitter chatter of my students and colleagues. I looked forward to it each day.”

Nargish Khambatta, Principal of GMA said that Celine would leave a large hole in the school community after guiding its pupils for so long.

She said, “A teacher like Celine makes a difference to entire generations. Her quest for perfection, her optimism and her affection make her unique. She is always first in school and last to go home. She is known for this as ‘The Iron Lady of Modern’ or just our wonderful Ms. Ribeiro and always with the utmost respect and affection.”


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