Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

Dubai's 'longest-serving teacher' retires after almost 40 years

Rosy George has taught English at Indian High School in Dubai since 1980

Rosy George, believed to be the longest serving school teacher in Dubai, at her home in Karama. She has retired from the Indian High School after almost 40 years. Pawan Singh / The National 
Rosy George, believed to be the longest serving school teacher in Dubai, at her home in Karama. She has retired from the Indian High School after almost 40 years. Pawan Singh / The National 

Rosy George walked into a classroom of bright eyed nine-year-olds on August 23, 1980, and gave her first English lesson.

The children were sat two to a desk, pencils sharpened and notebooks ready, and she was later reprimanded for not using the blackboard.

On Sunday, Ms George retired from the Indian High School, where she taught for 38 years — she is believed to be one of the longest serving teachers in the country.

Back then, she had just arrived in Dubai from the city of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala. She was the daughter of a schoolteacher, but it was only after moving to the Emirates the previous year that teaching became a full-time career and, in the years that followed, Ms George became far more than that — she became a mentor.

Her first foray into teaching was as a volunteer at government schools in India as part of the National Service Scheme during her undergraduate degree. She later taught again while completing a law degree and in between managed to find time to completed a master’s degree in English literature.

Dubai was a dream destination when she arrived — a boomtown for Malayalis, who prospered in trade, construction and finance. Ms George and her husband moved into a small villa near the Clock Tower roundabout in Deira, which was then a neighbourhood of one-storey shops where residents knew each other by name.

“I knew I was going to a place where I should be, so I was happy,” said Ms George.

Rosy George (far right) with her colleagues Annamma Jacob (left) and Mercy Mathews (center) in front the old Indian High School building in Dubai. Courtesy: Rosy George
Rosy George (far right) with her colleagues Annamma Jacob (left) and Mercy Mathews (center) in front the old Indian High School building in Dubai. Courtesy: Rosy George

“I have no fear of the unknown or things that are strange to me. I always try to be comfortable wherever I am. I try to adapt myself to my circumstances.”

It was a friend who recommended that she apply to the Indian High School in Oud Metha. It was the country’s first private school and at that point it was almost 20 years old so it had an established reputation.

Ms George’s teaching methods have changed little since then, and she still teaches from the textbook she studied as a girl. The fundamentals of good teaching never change, she says.

“I believe that if I am focused in my work and I share my love with children, they will be respectful. If you love them, they will be disciplined.”

And her style and work has inspired others to become teachers.

Anna Jessy John, who was in Ms George’s class in Grade 4 before teaching alongside her at the same school, said the teacher “has the ability to make you feel happy”.

“She always has a kind word for anyone and maybe at times that’s all we need,” she said.

Rosy George (second from right) with colleagues from the Indian High School at a picnic in Safa Park in Dubai. Courtesy: Rosy George
Rosy George (second from right) with colleagues from the Indian High School at a picnic in Safa Park in Dubai. Courtesy: Rosy George

Mary Walter, an English teacher at the Indian High School, accepted her job because of Ms George’s encouragement.

“I asked her once, ‘why do you say yes to every task that comes your way? Why don’t you find time for yourself as well’?” she said.

“And Ms George replied, ‘We all have one journey and we all walk together. It make it easier if we walk with each other.”

Ms George has taught every grade, from 4 to 12, but in her last class, she became a little emotional.

“I went with a very bold front, but when I saw the children crying, I, too, shed tears.”

She and her husband will now follow their children to Ontario, Canada, where her son has lived for seven years and her daughter will move there, too, in two weeks.

“I feel if you are going to a place that you like,” she said, “any time is the correct time to leave”.

Updated: March 30, 2019 12:27 PM

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