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Hessa Al-Shammari named third STEM Educator of the Year in Qatar by Texas A&M at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar

Published Jun 05, 2016

Hessa Al-Shammari, a biology teacher at Roda Bint Mohammed Secondary School for Girls, was named the 2016 Engineering Leaders STEM Educator of the Year 1 June by Texas A&M University at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar during a ceremony that featured some of Qatar’s top science teachers.

The STEM Educator of the Year award recognizes teaching excellence in math and science, and encourages educators to instruct and inspire students in these subjects in innovative ways. The competition received a record number of entries in 2016, its third year, and continues its direct efforts to support Qatar’s development of a knowledge-economy through education.

Al-Shammari, who is the first Qatari to be named STEM Educator of the Year, received a cash prize of 20,000 Qatari riyals.

Sheikh Faisal Al-Thani, deputy managing director at Maersk Oil Qatar, said, “This award strongly reflects the shared commitment of Maersk Oil Qatar and Texas A&M to support and promote STEM education in Qatar, to build local skills capacity, and support development and progress in engineering and science education.

“As one of the largest private sector investors in STEM education we are committed through such partnership programs to making a lasting impact on the lives of those in Qatar, and to developing the next generation of engineers and scientists in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”

The award is part of the Dhia: Engineering Leaders partnership between Texas A&M at Qatar and Maersk Oil Qatar. Dhia: Engineering Leaders supports the development of Qatar’s knowledge-based economy through outreach programs designed to inspire young people in Qatar to take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in school and university. STEM education in primary, preparatory and secondary schools is central to these efforts, and the STEM Educator of the Year award recognizes outstanding educators whose work contributes to exceptional STEM education in Qatar.

Texas A&M at Qatar interim dean Dr. Ann Kenimer said, “Texas A&M University at Qatar is proud to be creating the next generation of STEM leaders in Qatar. Guiding students to STEM majors and preparing them for success in higher education is key, and teachers are at the front line of lighting that spark of discovery in young students. The teachers we recognize today are helping students develop their potential to excel in math and science and to pursue careers in STEM fields. Through this important work, teachers are creating a STEM-literate workforce that can address Qatar’s Grand Challenges and help achieve the goals outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030.”

The winner Al-Shammari is described by her colleagues as an ambitious and proven problem solver who works well under pressure, and an energetic and enthusiastic teacher committed to her profession. One of her former students commented that she motivates her class to learn by using creative and varied teaching methods and by guiding the students toward self-learning.

She was also praised in particular for her use of technology in the classroom, which Al-Shammari said helps to motivate her students and increase the effectiveness of her teaching, making biology a more appealing and enjoyable subject to learn. One example of her innovative approach is that she has created a blog that her students use to present videos of their classroom science experiments and other activities related to the topics at hand. She has also presented to her colleagues on strategies that use technology to drive collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experiences.

Al-Shammari said, “I am proud to be the first Qatari to win the competition and I would like to extend my gratitude to Texas A&M University and Maersk, and their initiatives to increase the awareness of teaching STEM, which also encourage teachers to be innovative in teaching STEM.”

She added that strategies adopted to encourage students to study STEM are employed on a daily basis in her teaching career. She also advised her peers and colleagues to encourage the students to research and look for the information, instead of providing that for them, which stimulates them to learn.

Al-Shammari succeeds Wasan Yousif Muhsin Al-Ani, a chemistry teacher at Amna bint Wahab Secondary School for Girls, who was named the 2015 Engineering Leaders STEM Educator of the Year, and Faiza Hassan Musa, a chemistry teacher at Al Bayan Educational Complex for Girls, who won the inaugural award in 2014.

Other finalists recognized at the ceremony were runners-up Nour Elhouda Tabet from Al Arqam Academy for Girls and Hafsa Taibi from Raba’a Al-Adawiya Secondary Girls Independent School. Honorable mentions went to Manar Ghaloul from Raba’a Al-Adawiya Secondary Girls Independent School, Nizar Kilani from Dukhan English School and Magda Al Jabari from Al Maha Academy for Girls.

Runner-up Altaibi said, “We are really honored and proud to have such prize honoring the teachers and their efforts in the schools, which provides recognition and appreciation to our efforts as teachers."