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