Ms Awhina Houpapa
Assistant Principal Primary - Teaching and Learning
I have worked in education for 16 years, starting my career in New Zealand in 2003. After teaching for two years, I moved to London, and it was here that I began to truly understand the meaning of teaching the whole child. I grew into the role of a teacher by absorbing so much from colleagues about teaching and learning. I appreciated the qualities of an effective leader and came to know just how critical good leaders were in determining the direction of a school.
I remained a teacher in London until 2011. After this, I moved to Geneva, where I worked for a United Nations agency in a department responsible for transcribing texts from international labour conferences. This experience allowed me to be with family, as I had been away from home for so many years. While this time was special, I knew that my desire to teach was not being nurtured. I, once again, began searching for my next destination. This led me to Dubai.
I joined GEMS World Academy – Dubai, in 2012 as a Grade 3 teacher. I very much enjoyed being a part of this grade level for 7 years and was so fortunate to have worked alongside a number of amazing teachers throughout this period.
During my time in Grade 3, I chose to take on the responsibility of PYP Maths Coordinator. Through the hard work of our committee, we developed and implemented the initial phases of what has now become our PYP Maths curriculum. I envisaged a rigorous and developmentally appropriate Maths programme that aligned with our IB philosophy, and when my goal became a reality, I transitioned out of this role but remained as a Grade Leader for Grade 3 and then 4 until recently.
I now hold the position of Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning, Primary. My perspective and experience have added a further dimension to our Senior Leadership Team and I am so happy to now be focused on the development and implementation of whole school initiatives. My role has me involved in coaching and mentoring, and supporting teachers to achieve their performance management goals. I am currently studying for a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management. My new responsibilities motivate me to learn and grow. I am excited about what the future holds.