After 13 years in the education sector of her hometown St. Louis, MO, Josetta Shipps ventured over 7000 miles away to begin teaching in Abu Dhabi. Ms. Shipps has been in Abu Dhabi for four years and appreciates her experiences there.
In Abu Dhabi, Ms. Shipps has the pleasure of serving as a Math, Science, and English teacher for 8-12 year old girls in grades 4 and 5. She works with many other teachers from countries such as Australia, the UK, Africa, Finland, and Syria who teach the same classes. There are also teachers
from Middle Eastern regions who teach subjects such as Islamic studies and Arabic, adding diversity to the curriculum.
In addition to the interactions Ms. Shipps has with her fellow teachers, she has developed very strong relationships with her students and their families. For instance, Ms. Shipps has celebrated many “Emirati Weddings” with her students’ families. The strong student-teacher bond is one reason Ms. Shipps and many other foreign teachers opt to continue their teaching careers in the UAE.
Since Ms. Shipps began teaching in Abu Dhabi, several other African-American teachers have followed in her footsteps. Recent school budget cuts have caused many layoffs leading American education professionals to look for work elsewhere. These teachers love working in countries such as the UAE (United Arab Emirates) because they can receive higher salaries and free housing accommodations.
Moreover, the Abu Dhabi Educational Council acknowledges the leadership experiences that Ms. Shipps and other foreign-born women bring to Dubai. These former principals, instructional coordinators, and supervisors often work in Dubai as Heads of Faculty or Cluster Managers (professionals who train the local Emirati principals to manage the schools.) The Council has also started to provide more educational opportunities for UAE’s local women, who usually outperform their male counterparts academically and later pursue teaching and administrative roles.
Teaching in Dubai has been life-changing for Ms. Shipps. In addition to her phenomenal classroom experience, she has enjoyed exploring nearby regions and meeting people from all areas of the world.