Our Team

Dr Linda Rush
Dr Linda Rush

Senior Vice President, TELLAL Institute & Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Manchester, UK

Dr Linda Rush is Senior Vice President of the Institute for Teacher Learning and Leadership for All (TELLAL). Previously, she was the Director of Professional Learning and Head of Initial Teacher Education at University of Manchester.

As an educator, educational consultant and researcher, Dr Rush has worked with a wide range of learners: teachers in schools, dentists, doctors, clinical consultants, lawyers, academics across all disciplines in four universities, and those working in university administration. She was the youngest head teacher in England at the time of her appointment, she has been a Teacher Fellow at two universities, and was nominated as UK National Teaching Fellow in recognition of her excellence in teaching.

As a researcher, she has presented at numerous international conferences and has 12 publications in peer reviewed international journals. Other research outputs include book chapters and funded research projects. Dr Rush has been a keynote speaker at the prestigious British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference. In recognition of her knowledge and expertise in the area of ‘partnership learning’, she was funded to lead on the design and delivery of the equally prestigious Society For Educational Seminar Series (2013) entitled: Experimentation or fragmentation: the future of teacher education? Dr Linda has worked on the Editorial Advisory Board for Teaching Public Administration Journal (SAGE) and has also been an external reviewer for a number of universities.

Dr Rush has a PhD and Masters from the University of Liverpool, UK. She has been awarded status of Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Manchester, UK. Currently, she is reflecting on partnership practices in the context of public and private educational organisations in more cosmopolitan and competitive contexts seeking to make the unconventional conventional.

Christine Nasserghodsi
Christine Nasserghodsi

Vice President – UAE Operations

Over the course of her career, Christine has worked with schools, international companies, and government agencies in the United States, MENA and Europe to develop high-impact education programmes, and currently serves as the Vice President, UAE Operations, for the TELLAL Institute. At TELLAL, Christine is leading the regional development of TELLAL’s five pillars – teacher training, leadership training, teacher preparation for competence, professional learning, and research.

Until recently, Christine was the Head of Innovation Strategy for GEMS Education. In this capacity, Christine led “Creating Communities of Innovation”, a programme run with Harvard University’s Project Zero focused on transforming schools through pedagogical, technological, and leadership innovation, and worked with school leaders to create new ecologies for education.

Christine is the TELLAL Chair for the Learning Innovations Laboratory at Harvard University, a Harvard University Project Zero Classroom faculty member, and a member of the advisory board for the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, FirstPoint School, and Wellington International School. Christine writes on innovation, education, technology, and entrepreneurship for Forbes and the Huffington Post and is a regular contributor to Edutopia and on Dubai Eye.

Christine holds a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently pursuing a doctorate in organisational learning and development.

Hassan Za’Za’
Hassan ZaZa

Head of Commercial Development and Strategic Partnerships

Hassan Za’Za’ is an accomplished professional with an innovative career in Management and Business Development of the Academic Services Industry. Skilled expert with a pro-active experience in the Middle East, North African & European markets. Evolved through numerous stages in Academia achieving business acumen and setting creative and leading services standards, especially in tailored Academic Solutions within the K-12, Higher Education and Professional Learning segments. Also, completed strategic institutional regional projects combining state-of-the-art solutions inclusive of content development, digital and data driven deliverables and teacher professional development.

Hassan joined TELLAL as the Head of Commercial Development and Strategic Partnerships, from a renowned line up of Academic Services providers like Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson International; he graduated from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, with a Bachelor of Arts and has been serving in the Education industry since 1995.

Michelle Shanti Clements
Michelle Shanti Clements, Head of Leadership Academy, TELLAL Institute

Head of Leadership Academy

With more than 24 years of experience in the field of education, personal development and leadership research, Shanti Clements is the Head of the Leadership Academy at TELLAL. Shanti joined the TELLAL team from her post as Principal at Beauty Point Public School, which she transformed into one of the highest performing schools in Australia.

A former Assistant Director of Leadership and Teacher Quality with the NSW Department of Education, Shanti supported the development of new school planning processes, external validation reviews and designed a leadership pathways strategy for NSW Public Schools.

An Honorary Associate with the University of Sydney, Shanti spent 10 years training and lecturing graduate teachers on the Masters of Education and Bachelor of Education degree programmes. A former journalist who worked on radio as a News reader and Current Affairs reporter, she remains committed to using her journalism skills to research new fields within educational leadership. Her publications include two co-authored books for the NSW Department of Education, Prejudice – No Way and the Pacific Islander Leadership Project. Her third book, A Seven Step Blueprint For Successful Schools, will be published in 2018.

Shanti is currently completing a Ph.D. thesis linking leadership, culture and school transformation.

Sheryl Lee Rogers
Sheryl Rogers

Senior Manager – Digital Professional Learning & Development

Sheryl is responsible for the design, development and deployment of digital resources and environments that are at the heart of TELLAL’s methodologies. Sheryl came to the UAE in 2009 and worked as part of a GEMS partnership project with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, training teachers in UAE national schools to support the implementation of a new curriculum.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Diploma in teaching from her home country, New Zealand, Sheryl has more than 25 years’ experience teaching as a primary generalist and secondary Media and Film Studies specialist.

Sheryl also holds a Diploma in TESOL and an advanced Diploma in HR practice from Cornell University, USA. Sheryl is currently studying for her Master’s in Technology and Learning Design, and is able to use the opportunity to apply her study to her work at Tellal, using state of the art tools and methodologies to support both pre-service and in-service teacher training.

Deborah Hennigan
Deborah Hennigan

Head of QA, Startups and Licensing

Deborah joined GEMS Education in 2011 working as Head of Biology at Jumeirah College Dubai. In 2013, Deborah moved to the Professional Learning and Development team at GEMS Corporate Office. In her role at TELLAL, Deborah has continued her close relations with GEMS schools and remains dedicated to school-based professional learning and development. Some of the areas that fall under her responsibilities include the up-skilling of in-service teachers and leaders on a needs basis, managing and quality assuring the central training calendar, and coordinating GEMS’ subject networks.

Deborah holds an MBA in International Business (Middlesex University, Dubai, 2016) and a PG HDip in Educational Leadership and Management (Maynooth University, Ireland, 2009).

Abdelfatah Ghozlan

Teacher Training  Manager (Arabic)

Abdelfatah Ghozlan leads the Arabic pre-service teacher training programme, and brings a new and unique perspective to the TELLAL team. His role involves visiting and supporting existing Arabic and Islamic teachers.

Abdelfatah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a postgraduate diploma in Special Needs Education and a postgraduate diploma in Curriculum and Instruction from Alexandria University, Egypt.

Being awarded a Fulbright grant in 2015, he worked as an Arabic Teaching Assistant at Tougaloo College, USA, which enabled him to gain more insights into how Arabic is taught as a foreign language in a culturally and linguistically diverse environment. He led, organised and participated in cultural events at Tougaloo College and schools in Mississippi, USA, to raise students’ awareness of the Arab world by introducing them to the Arabic language and culture.

His enthusiasm to further pursue his passion for teaching and learning began while working as an English language teacher and through his 5-year tenure with the Egyptian Tourism Federation. During this time, he was involved in a national project to improve the language and communication skills of employees working in tourism.

Jyoti Cropley

Teacher Training  Manager

Jyoti began teaching in 1994 in South-East London and joined GEMS 11 years ago. Jyoti has taught across Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 and teaches in rural Indian schools on a voluntary basis. Her GEMS career began at Royal Dubai School, where she taught Year 1 and Year 7. Jyoti then moved onto a senior leadership role as Director of Professional Development. In 2011, Jyoti joined GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis. Here, she worked as class teacher, year leader and then coordinated and introduced a blended curriculum of Language and Communication for Year 7. Jyoti then joined Winchester School, Dubai, as Learning and Teaching Coach and senior leader.

As Teacher Training manager at TELLAL, Jyoti is engaged with the development of pre-service teachers and leads the International Professional Certificate in Professional Practice for in-service teachers across the GEMS Network.

Jyoti is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi, and holds a BSc. Hons in Chemical Engineering (University of Wales) and a PGCE (The Institute of Education, London). She will soon embark on a Master’s qualification with Liverpool Hope University (UK).

Jade Peter-Swain
Jade Peter-Swain

Associate Tutor and Trainer, Early Years

Jade Peter-Swain is an Associate Tutor and Trainer for TELLAL and currently supports Early Years specialist route training and qualifications. She is also the founding Executive Principal and CEO of Little GEMS International Al Barsha, Dubai, a large 300-place preschool for children aged 0-4 years.

Jade is an experienced Early Years Principal and Manager, and has previously designed and opened preschools in London, Singapore and Dubai. She is a UK qualified assessor, and an experienced adult trainer, having delivered professional qualifications in Early Childhood Care and Education, Playwork, and Management.

Jade regularly supports both independent and school-based Early Years teams through consultancy and advisory services. Jade holds a BA (Hons) in Education, Early Years Professional Status in the UK, and professional qualifications in Management, Child Care and Playwork.

Dr LéJon Payne

Educational Technologies and Pre-service Partnership Manager

As TELLAL’s Educational Technologies and Pre-service Partnership Manager, Dr LéJon Payne is responsible for implementing innovative technologies through the TELLAL Digital Ecosystem and managing Pre-service Partnerships to ensure excellence.

LéJon began her career with GEMS Education in 2014 at GEMS American Academy (GAA). With more than 15 years of experience in education, LéJon has worked as an Innovation Leader, Performing Arts Director, International Service Organiser, K-12 coordinator, Instructional Coach, Specialist, and K-5 classroom teacher.

With a focus on Innovation and Technology at GAA, LéJon began her efforts to design and implement innovative spaces and programmes in the spring of 2016. Under her leadership, the school went on to implement a KG makerspace, a whole school makerspace, robotics, coding, and design technology programmes.

LéJon has recently completed a doctorate, Ed.D, at Cambridge College (USA). She also has a Master of Arts in Teaching (Oglethorpe University, USA) and a Specialist Certificate in Leadership Administration (Cambridge College, USA).

Katie Hart

Manager – Teacher Leadership

Katie joined TELLAL from her position as Vice Principal at GEMs Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis. Her career in education has taken her from Early Years and Key Stage 1 classroom teaching through all levels of training, coaching, facilitating and mentorship, to department head and executive leadership: “As someone who has benefitted from the quality and rigour of the TELLAL leadership programmes in my own career, I am extremely proud to now be a part of this team and feel very passionate about the excellent support available for potential and developing leaders.”

Katie joined GEMS Education in 2006 and, in 2013, was awarded the prestigious GEMs Core Values Award.

She is currently studying for International Professional Certificate in Educational Leadership with TELLAL.

Teri Siapco
Teri Sciapco

Teacher Training Administrator

Teri joined the GEMS family after working as an operations coordinator for the security firm G4S. Based at Little GEMS International, Teri was the admin coordinator for CACHE training. From there, she joined the TELLAL team as teacher training administrator.

Teri is responsible for managing the day-to-day financial aspects of TELLAL’s operation, and supports the ongoing requirements of external clients and participants across the range of TELLAL programmes. She is the first point of contact for enquiries, manages the front of house operations and is always ready with a smile if you’re stopping by at TELLAL HQ.

Caleb Johnson
Caleb Johnson

Administrative Assistant

Before joining the TELLAL team, Caleb was with GEMS Education for 6 years. At TELLAL, he is heavily involved in the ongoing administration and maintenance of digital resources and environments. Caleb also works on the development of online learning modules, and the maintenance and deployment of TELLAL’s teacher training simulators. He is also responsible for a host of vital administrative tasks that support the team.

Caleb has just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, and is looking to extend his knowledge through his work at TELLAL.

Advisory Board
Tony Little
Tony Little Chair of TELLAL's Advisory Board

Chair, TELLAL Advisory Board

Tony Little is the Chief Academic Officer for GEMS Education, and Chair of the TELLAL Advisory Board.

Tony has been a head teacher for 26 years, including at Eton College (from 2002-2015). He has been a governor of 9 secondary schools, both state and independent, as well as 6 primary/prep schools: two of these secondary schools were newly created under the UK Government’s Free Schools initiative. He is currently Honorary President of BSA (Boarding Schools Association).

Over the past 15 years he has become increasingly engaged in international education organisations and programmes including serving as President of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, chair of an association linking schools in China with schools in the West, Trustee of Afghan Connection and chair of the Mvumi School Trust, Tanzania.

He has particular interests in developing pedagogy and the benefits of digital education, interests that came into focus with the creation of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning at Eton College.

Chris Stone
Chris Stone TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Sir Christopher Stone joined GEMS Education as the Chief Education Officer – (MENASA) in November 2015. He is responsible for overseeing the quality of teaching, learning and curricula across all GEMS schools across the UAE. He is also Deputy Chief Academic Officer for the GEMS Academic Council. Prior to joining GEMS Education, he was CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – a multi academy trust in the UK, which he led from 2009-2015.

First appointed as a Principal in the UK in 1995, Sir Chris went on to lead a number of schools, including one of the first SCITT schools to be created. Sir Chris has also provided leadership, guidance and training for principals and ministers in Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Finland and Scotland on behalf of the British Council.

He was made a National Leader of Education by NCSL in 2008. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Birmingham City University for his work in Educational leadership.

Sir Chris received a knighthood in 2013, in recognition of his outstanding service to education.

Steve Bartley
Steve Bartley TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Steve Bartley joined GEMS Education in 2017 as Senior Vice President – Services.

With a Chartered Accountant background, Steve has more than 18 years of international experience in support services industry.

Before joining GEMS, Steve was Principal Consultant with The Corporate Group, prior to which he was Managing Director of Renaissance – Contract Services Group. During his 13 years in Dubai, he also undertook several roles with Serco Middle East, including Facilities Management & Technology Director, responsible for all Middle East Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) and Technology business.

Kenneth Newport
Kenneth Newport TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Reverend Canon Professor Kenneth Newport is Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) and Dean of Education at Liverpool Hope University, UK.

Prior to teaching and supervising research at Liverpool Hope, Professor Newport previously taught at the University of Manchester (UK), the University of St Andrews in Scotland (UK), and in Hong Kong. His research has been widely published and he has written three books. He is a reviewer for the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, and is responsible for QA at Liverpool Hope.

As Liverpool Hope University validates several of TELLAL’s international teaching qualifications, Professor Newport acts on TELLAL’s advisory board on behalf of our validating partner, as well as advising on quality assurance frameworks.

“TELLAL is very sensitive to the local context of the UAE. In the global world that we live in, there is a great opportunity to take what we’ve learned here to help others to develop similar models elsewhere.”

Yousef Omar
Yousef Omar TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Yousef Omar has spent the last 20 years furthering the teaching of the Arabic language around the world. He has taught at top UK universities including SOAS University of London. He has influenced Arabic language curriculum design and assessments, set up Arabic language departments and designed Arabic teacher training.

Yousef is the founder and CEO of the Sharek Centre for Arabic Language Training, the UK’s foremost Arabic language and cultural centre.

The Sharek Centre works with TELLAL in developing and delivering the Arabic ATP for Arabic and Islamic Education, as well as Arabic and Islamic Studies teachers’ professional development and learning.

“We believe that language and culture is better shared than taught. We use drama, storytelling and other creative and innovative ways to share Arabic language, and train teachers of Arabic as a first and second language.”

David Spendlove
David Spendlove TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Professor David Spendlove is Director of Teaching, Learning and Students at the University of Manchester, where he is also Strategic Director of Initial Teacher Education.

A former teacher and department head, David has been in higher education since 2000, working in education policy, practice and publications. In 2013, he received an ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ from the Design and Technology Association (D&TA) for his work in Teacher Education in Design and Technology. He is on three editorial boards, has been widely published and is a regular guest speaker at education conventions around the world.

John Diamond
John Diamond TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Professor John Diamond is Director for the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice at Edge Hill University, UK, where he is also Head of Academic Planning in the Faculty of Education. He has published extensively, including public and private sector reports, research papers, conference papers and books. He is also the co-editor of the journal Teaching Public Administration and the annual series Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management. Much of Professor Diamond’s research and writing centres on civil society, third sector management, and partnerships and learning.

Professor Diamond advises TELLAL in an independent capacity. His role on TELLAL’s advisory board involves internal quality and assurance, and governance of the institute.

“The opportunity at TELLAL is hugely exciting. I am really attracted to the idea of how you can develop teachers and potential leaders in a context which is situated in a school and in which there is really strong emphasis on the learners themselves being active in that learning. As a model there is so much that people around the world can learn from.”

Ramya Venkataraman
Ramya Venkataraman TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Ramya Venkataraman is Founder & CEO of the Centre for Teacher Accreditation (CENTA), India. Ramya was with McKinsey & Company for more than 15 years, the last five of which she spent as Leader of McKinsey’s Education Practice in India. An expert on public-private partnerships, Ramya has led large-scale government school reforms, and supports the growth and capacity building of numerous private and not-for-profit organisations in India, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She is a seasoned conference speaker and is regularly invited to give opinions on education matters in the international press. As part of TELLAL’s advisory board, her experiences of linking teacher competencies to qualification and accreditation in developing markets will be invaluable.

“The Middle East is a unique confluence of the east and the west, so you have all sorts of perspectives shaping views on education, and I think TELLAL can play an interesting role there. It’s also very interesting to see an institute which was born out of a school system. It’s quite a unique advantage that TELLAL has.”

Reuben Moore
Reuben Moore - TELLAL Advisory Board

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Reuben Moore is Director of Leadership at the UK’s education equality charity, Teach First, where he oversees the two-year Development of Leadership Programme.

Reuben’s career in education began with secondary school teaching. He held a number of school-based roles including Advanced Skills Teacher, Head of Department and Vice Principal. He was also the Principal Lecturer in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University (UK).

He joins the TELLAL Advisory Board with expertise in Leadership Development and increasing education access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Liz Dawes Duraisingh
Dr Liz Dawes Duraisingh

TELLAL Advisory Board Member

Dr Liz Dawes Duraisingh is a Research Associate and the Principal Investigator at Harvard University’s Project Zero research centre.

Liz co-directs Project Zero’s Out of Eden Learn, an online learning community project which promotes cross-culture enquiry around the world. She also leads Creating Communities of Innovation, which supports inquiry-driven professional development for teachers. She also works with GEMS schools to develop a cross-curricula initial teacher network. Originally a secondary school history teacher, Liz is also a Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

تتصف ال KHDA Teacher Competence التي أعلنت عنها هيئة المعرفة والتنمية البشرية بأهدافها التي تتسم بالطموح والتحدي، لكن الحلول دائمًا موجودة لدينا لمساعدة المدارس…