Meet The Nominees For The Middle East Education Influencer Award 2018

Check out the profiles of the educators who have been shortlisted for the Middle East Education Influencer Award 2018. Read their profiles, then vote for your favourite. You are only allowed to vote once.

Voting closes on September 20th, 2018 at midnight

Aimon Sabawi

 I consider myself a champion of vocational learning in UAE schools. I am an expert on local culture and have run cultural awareness sessions for Dubai-based schools. I have published education research and presented it at two international conferences. I am an educational technology advocate, creating video content for my own lessons. I have spent the last two summers training for anti-bullying/safeguarding, and behavioural therapy (with Dubai Foundation for Women & Children and Autism Rocks). I am the funniest teacher you will ever meet. No really, I am hilarious. ‘Mic drop’ Click here to vote for Aimon

Asha Alexander

 Asha Alexander has had a significant positive impact on technology use at The Kindergarten Starters, a GEMS school in having moved the institution from a traditional CBSE curriculum driven by books to a digitally transacted bespoke curriculum. 
Through her relentless efforts, she has made efforts to develop capacity in the teaching community through partnerships and collaboration in the initiative with LEGO and Atlab by providing digital resources and continuous professional development to transact the digital curriculum. 

She has demonstrated her ability to develop a systemic plan aligned with a shared vision for school effectiveness and student learning through the infusion of digital resources. She continuously improves her professional practice through the promotion of technology-related professional learning plans and opportunities, and exhibits leadership her school professional community by engaging in an ongoing process to develop, implement and communicate plans for the effective use of digital tools and resources.T his has resulted in the school acquiring Microsoft Showcase school status with all teachers as Microsoft Innovative Educators, 7 Microsoft Technology Associates, 3 Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators and 25 more certified by Oxford University in Teaching with Technology. 

She has contributed to the profession by presenting at professional conferences, seminars, and workshops and by publishing articles in print and through electronic media.

Under her leadership the school has won many awards in the field of Innovation and technology, undertaken action research with Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education in Creating Communities of Innovation by embedding the integration of STEAM in the curriculum as well as incorporated Robotics, AR and VR for students as part of its curriculum.

Her work has positively impacted the Kindergarten Starters, Dubai. Click here to vote for Asha


Andi Price

 Since joining Ranches Primary School this year, Andi has been at the forefront of educational development and has had a massive impact across the whole school. His work as Head of English has been tremendous, with all of his initiatives being disseminated across the entire primary phase. Andi is a true innovator with a passion for dramatically modernizing the education system. 

This year alone he has successfully implemented digital feedback across the school, utilized SOLE learning environments to ensure outstanding outcomes for pupils, and delivered training workshops in Dubai. Mr Price delivered a session at What Works Dubai based around digital feedback and has been able to influence best practice in teachers across Dubai. He has also written articles for newspapers with the sole aim of driving forward standards in Dubai education. 

As Head of English, he has worked closely with POBBLE to ensure that the platform can be accessed by pupils and teachers across the UAE. His work on this platform has been shared at the annual COBIS conference, further demonstrating his passion to influence educational reform further than his own school. 

Since stepping down from his previous role as Primary Headteacher, Andi has proven that it is possible to ‘lead from the classroom’ by conducting research in action. Click here to vote for Andi

Basheaer Kilani

 Bashaer is a passionate educator and an experienced educational leader with a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. After joining the education field as an IT instructor, Bashaer worked as an instructional supervisor and curriculum developer in UAE Ministry of Education where she has designed and implemented development strategies on the district level. Then, joining Abu Dhabi Education Council as Academic Quality Improvement specialist, she initiated and developed e-Learning Curriculum and assessment for ICT subject in K-12. Soon afterwards, Bashaer joined Institute of Applied Technology leading the ICT team where she had her hands full with deploying 1:1 environment, developing IT cluster courses and contributing to Emirates Skills competitions as web development and graphic design expert and trainer. Bashaer then moved to tertiary education and served as academic program coordinator for the General Requirement Unit in Fatima College of Health Sciences during which she founded online simulation-based learning and research for ICT courses. She had also developed an IT curriculum that is oriented for the Health Science profession. Bashaer has worked as a faculty member in the Technical Studies Program in Higher Colleges of Technology where she participated actively in the curriculum review. Bashaer is an advocate of personalized professional development. This was one of the principal motivators behind her founding #EdchatMENA – an educational social media chat that promotes global collaboration. One of a kind social media chat in the MENA region. Bashaer has participated in conferences as both a keynote and a featured speaker. In addition, she is in KDSL list of the ‘10 to know in education in the UAE in 2017’ and she is ‘Outstanding Contribution in Education’ GESS Awards winner 2018. Bashaer has written articles for global educational magazines. She has many papers and publications on Transformational leadership, edtech learning ERP systems and strategic planning. Click here to vote for Bashaer

Ben Rothwell

Outstanding innovation in school. Supporting teachers and Victory Heights School with professional development. Click here to vote for Ben

Dee Saran

 Dee Saran is the Deputy Head of Learning and Teaching at Dubai College. She studied Geography and Economics at University College London. She is a learner that loves learning, she thrives on pushing creative boundaries and is a leader who drives change with emotional intelligence and rigour. She has had articles about Collaborative Learning and Thinking about Thinking published in the then NSIN Research Matters at the IOE. Dee is passionate about creating opportunities for collaboration and support, she worked across the UK. This drive-in supporting school improvement and cross cultivation has continued in Dubai where Dee has led a series of free workshops for local schools about learning and teaching, the College has also begun to create a number of links with Universities and other CPD providers to provide a host of innovative opportunities for staff across the Middle Eastern region. Her passion for developing innovative teaching, leadership pathways, research and quality CPD has driven the vision for Dubai College’s Center of Learning and Leadership. Dee has begun to organise the Middle East’s first ResearchEd event ready for 2019. Meaning that Dubai College will continue to consolidate its reputation as a hub that will create professional learning opportunities that both support and inspire. Click here to vote for Dee


George Stokes

George loves to share innovative, pedagogical practices, not only with his school but also across the whole of the Middle East and the UK. Working with him has made me a better practitioner and I know that the students have been inspired by his 21st Century outlook on education. I have never seen someone as dedicated to improving teaching and learning as George. Every day he will excitedly share a new article with our colleagues and spark up passionate conversations about education with fellow teachers, both online and in person. Not only does he read others articles, but he also writes several of his own for publications such as Teach Middle East. After watching his presentations at various education conferences, it’s easy to see his drive to transform education shine through. Click here to vote for George


Jeremy Williams

 Jeremy is an inspiring Senior Leader & Principal – loved by his colleagues and advisory board. Jeremy also has a great online presence regularly celebrating others within education and discussing leadership. He has created and co-hosts a great podcast about life in the UAE with interesting interviews with educators. Click here to vote for Jeremy


Kate Jones

 During her time in the UAE, Kate has worked tirelessly alongside her full-time teaching job to not only learn from educators in the region but share her expertise, ideas and time with countless others in the region too. She engages by speaking at teaching and learning events such as SPARK events, the JESS Summit and BETT Middle East. She readily shares on Twitter and Instagram and is a force for good in education in the region. Her #TeachUAEchat chat on Twitter is engaged with by educators from around the world and has been something I have been proud to support her with. Click here to vote for Kate

Liam Marshall

 Liam joined Ranches Primary School this year, he has influenced significant change within the school and across education in Dubai. In only his fifth year of teaching and first year teaching abroad, he has written for educational supplements, presented at numerous conferences and been interviewed for educational podcasts. He has pioneered and modelled new classroom environments, championing flexible seating, and persuaded lots of sceptics along the way to experiment with their current traditional practices. Liam has also embraced ‘digital feedback’ to engage his students further and to dramatically reduce his own workload. This has meant he has been able to research and put into practice new and exciting initiatives – a win/win situation. He has shared his experience at the KHDA ‘What Works’ conferences as well as online. 
Liam has shown that he is a lifelong learner, will never be stuck in his ways and always challenges educational thinking. He greatly enjoys debating educational theories on social media and is not afraid to show out of the box thinking to revolutionise our current worldwide education system. He strongly believes in the experience of other teachers around him and is not afraid to take this and blend it with the emerging technologies and thinking to create a blended approach which not only works but is quickly becoming modelled across the school. 
He strives for excellence but first, he puts the learning needs of children at the heart of all he does. He is a great colleague to work with, very supportive, generous and dedicated educator. A genuinely all round nice guy!  Click Here to vote for Liam

Lorena Panelo

 She is a prolific writer, an educator of distinction, a woman of dreams bigger than her own. Travelling the roads feared by most. Ms Lorena Panelo, known to many as Loren or Mamita, would normally shy away from the sparkle and glamour of spotlight to be able to focus on her mission. 

She finished her degree in Psychology and thereafter took up Master’s Degree in Family Science, another master’s in Special Education Minor in Educational Management. With her twenty-five years’ experience in the academic and corporate world, she has earned a pivotal role in training and education. Her stellar performance as the Administrative Officer of the Knights of Rizal has earned her a very satisfactory performance rating by His Excellency, the former Chief Justice, Hilario G. Davide, Jr.

All these accrued experiences over the years made her the strong-willed woman that she is now. With her vision to empower people and help those in distress, she founded the Pinoy Peer Counselors of Abu Dhabi which provides psychosocial counselling for the distressed OFWs in Abu Dhabi, UAE. 

As the new Chief Executive Officer of The Global Pinoy Academy, Ms Panelo, has been working hand in hand with a very strong and capable team of OFW volunteers in educating as many expatriates as they can. And to date since 2016, there are more than 1300 graduates of this academy, who have been given a chance in creating a better version of themselves and bringing Ms Panelo’s vision closer to home. Click here to vote for Lorena

Lilac Schonberg

 Lilac is an education entrepreneur, wife, mother, teacher, and a cancer survivor. Lilac is a graduate of Social Psychology, Cum Laude. She was a volunteer counsellor to abused women, speaker of different organizations under the Philippine Embassy and currently sponsors kids in the Philippines with scholarships.

These are her exceptional achievements: Author for Basic Technology modules and syllabus NC Levels 1 to 3 of Alternative Learning System (Philippines); Author for Global Hybrid K-12 modules (Singapore); Certified Robotic Python Programmer; Cisco Engineer; and STEM Essentials Education with Hybrid Global Team Award.

As an advocate of innovation and STEM education, she founded Qiwi Technologies LLC—a company that provides robotics and STEM education to help schools comply with Federal Ministry of Education’s requirement–to integrate the subjects with STEM approach. One of its partners, The Global Pinoy Academy, caught her interest because of their noble vision: to provide high quality and affordable education to expatriates. She currently sponsors scholars in the academy and is a volunteers trainer for Robotics and STEM Essentials.

It was August 2017 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the midst of the excruciating pain of chemotherapy, astoundingly, Lilac continued teaching; believed that if her time will come and her body can no longer fight, she can rest peacefully knowing that the intelligence she imparted will forever live in her students. She was declared cancer-free last April 2018.  Lilac Hosalla Schonberg is not just an educator who has influenced countless lives. She is also a living proof that education is life, that education, itself, is a miracle. Click here to vote for Lilac

Nafissa El Jabban

 Won Hamdan Award for the distinguished teacher, as a result, I was chosen to be a consultant for the award. My classes are student centred where I engage all my students in activities and projects that promote teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving. I always try to update myself with the latest teaching strategies. I was Given extra responsibilities in the school including training staff and innovation leader. I initiated Multiple clubs( motivational club and Sustainable Development Goals club). I initiated and designed a course called “Arduino” which enhanced students engineering skills.

I was in charge of the Environmental Club, due to my efforts Emirates Environmental Group chose our school as a recycling centre among only five in the whole UAE. Nominated to attend First Generation Forum in Sweden as an inspiration Arab figure and was awarded as an inspirational educator by the Swedish minister for international development cooperation and climate.

I try to inspire my students to achieve higher goals and reach out past their boundaries. I am a dedicated and loving teacher who can do anything to benefit my students and make them happy. For the past six years, I have supervised ten teams in Emirates Environmental Group public speaking competitions and won the first places. I also supervised more than twenty-five teams in the most reputable scientific competition in GCC “Think Science Fair” and won four first places, five second places, and six third places. Moreover, four of my teams were nominated to represent the country in ISEF in the US and this year my team took a recognition award for their conducted research. As head of the department, I lead around five teachers and always try to support my staff and provide them with the latest teaching strategies. I always conduct training for them as well as prepare model classes and invite them to attend. I always try to include my team in the department decisions and make their point of view valued. Click here to vote for Nafissa

Nouf Aldossary

  I am passionate about participating with schools from around the world in projects that aim to achieve the goals of sustainable development. With my students, I participated in the Travelling Tales Project whose idea is based on creating a story that helps achieve the goals of sustainable development. This was with four schools from different parts of the world. Each school had a part to create. The story starts with a warm-up, followed by an introduction, then the problem in which the students study one of the goals of sustainable development, such as peace, fighting poverty, fighting hunger, education quality, wildlife, underwater life…etc). The story ends by proposing a solution. Then, the story concludes by reaffirming the goals of the sustainable development which are being studied. My students have learnt to be creative in terms of problem designing, constructive dialogue, and respecting other civilizations and cultures. Also, my students have learnt to be creative in drawing, writing and problem-solving. In composing a story in Traveling Tale Project, we use modern technology tools such as adobe spark.

Also, I participated in global projects, such as Global Book Project, Global math Project, International dot day, kindness project, One World Project, Kids can innovate.

I received an award from “Environmental 1” Expo and Forum for my efforts in familiarizing female students with the importance of preserving the environment. It is accessible via

I am “global math project” ambassador, “Kids can innovate” ambassador and MIE expert 2018- 2019. To vote for Nouf click here

Dr Sana Farid

 Dr Sana Farid is a pioneer AR-VR Strategist and a successful entrepreneur from the MENA region. An avid researcher, Dr Sana has developed a comprehensive platform for use of immersive technologies in the classroom, e.g. Virtual/Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence. 
She started the initiative of taking 1 million VR expeditions to students in the Middle East, apart from transforming the learning methods, Dr Sana has also empowered thousands of teachers, through training courses, that enables those teachers to bring VR technology into their classrooms, with minimal hardware and free of cost software.  Dr Sana is the leading Arab female speaker and consultant in this field. To vote for Dr Sana Click here

Shady El Kassas

 Shady is a creative and innovative educator, who tries to influence not only teachers to pursue their dreams in education and accomplish their best but also to influence students and inspire them with introducing new ideas and concepts to be applied in a real-life context. Shady is utilising many social networks such as Facebook, Google blog, websites, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. He’s always introducing unique contents in this networks. He’s recently doing a project with UNESCO schools network where he tries to highlight the importance of teaching the sustainable development goals put forward by Unesco. Shady has made magnificent efforts in community service where he is encouraging students to use their skills and knowledge in the community such as hospitals, nursing houses orphanages and special learning centres. I believe that Shady deserves to the Middle East Education Influencer. To vote for Shady click here

Stephen Ritz

 Since 2015, Stephen has worked across UAE to bring passion, purpose and hope to dozens of schools related to his work in sustainability, project-based learning, urban gardening, health, wellness, nutrition and inclusivity. His 2016 standing ovation at What Works resulted in multiple partnerships across the region while inspiring students and teachers to change the way they live, eat and learn. A four-time participant in the Global Skills and Education Forum including Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen’s innovative use of aeroponic technology resulted in him being named a Top Twenty Influencer by School Advisor Dot Com. His best selling book, The Power Of A Plant, features acknowledgements by Dr Abdulla Al Karam and was a highlight at Emirates Literature Festival where he delighted crowds and visited schools across the region including Dubai Center for Special Needs. Stephen routinely consults with schools throughout the region across all grade levels to help design indoor and outdoor, academic, learning gardens and has inspired thousands of students with his bow-ties, yellow cheese hat and mantra of Can’t Stop – Won’t Stop – Si Se Puede! (yes, we can! ). Consequently, students, teachers and families are eating healthier, exercising more and reducing their overall footprint. Stephen has found a second home in UAE and is proud to be residing at The Sustainable City come fall 2018. He will be working with ESOL Education as the Director of Health, Wellness and Innovation and his work has helped inform and influence the design and curriculum of Fairgreen International School. The technology Stephen has championed and introduced around the world is being used to grow food and minds in the biodomes at The Sustainable City and will be introduced to schools across the region come 2018-19 school year. Per Dr Abdulla: “here in Dubai, we share with Stephen a belief in the goodness of the human spirit and our children’s capacity to create a happier world.” To vote for Stephen click here