Maike Silver: Cultivating Young Minds to Truly Make a Difference | Aga Khan Academies

Maike Silver: Cultivating Young Minds to Truly Make a Difference

Ask Maike Silver, Junior School Principal at the Aga Khan Academy in Maputo, Mozambique, what attracted her to teach at the Academy.


“The vision and mission of the Academy,” she states simply. “The vision to inspire young people into becoming future leaders of their countries. To actually have the ethical persuasion to make a difference in the lives of their countrymen.”

Originally from Germany, Maike says it was her father’s voluntary work in her hometown that swayed her into the teaching profession. “I was 12 years old when I started helping my dad coach young swimmers at our local hometown club. Ever since then, I have wanted to work with children and young people.”

Starting her teaching career at a German-American International School in California as an Early Years Specialist, Maike worked for 17 years, before embarking on her international educator journey, first to Cebu, Philippines, and then onto Maputo, Mozambique. She started working at AKA Maputo in 2018.

While she applauds the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework the Academy uses to guide teaching and learning, Maike also values the Aga Khan Curricular Strands of ethics, pluralism, economics for development, cultures, governance, and civil society. These play an important role in her instruction.

“It is these added leadership and stewardship attributes that empower students to care for their communities and that also provide a concentrated focus on local issues,” she states with conviction.

One of Maike’s main goals is to create an environment in which learning can be a positive and transformative experience and make a meaningful impact on students. Aware that young people flourish academically and emotionally in a constructive environment, Maike goes to great lengths to demand discipline for behaviours that maintain reverence and a sense of community and family in which every student feels valued. She feels strong peer relationships are important as are mutual trust and respect between students and between students and teachers.  

“In order to be a great teacher several factors need to be in place,” Maike says with authority. “The classroom environment needs to be one of mutual respect where teachers and students connect and together create expectations for behaviour that uphold dignity, and a sense of caring for each other and a passion for learning,” she states solemnly.

In her opinion, teaching is one of the hardest and yet one of the most rewarding professions. “Being a teacher is a difficult occupation as it requires a tremendous amount of energy to keep children engaged in their learning as well as show compassion for all categories of different learners. The job entails diplomacy and resilience when dealing with the different demands from parents, students and administrators.”

Aware of the importance of being prepared before teaching a class, Maike states emphatically that a teacher needs to plan activities and strategies with a strong sense of commitment in order to inspire students.

“The teacher needs to plan engaging activities that have a clear sense of purpose and where the outcome can be assessed. At the same time, the teacher needs to be responsive to the needs of students and must be flexible in their planning. This requires a teacher to be open-minded and reflective,” she notes.

If Maike carries a sense of manifest destiny for her students, she credits the Academy’s IB curriculum of a holistic education. Saying it is critical for educators to train students to think critically and creatively, and to be able to transfer their knowledge to real-life situations, she quotes Ernest LeRoy Boyer, who was a distinguished American educator, who once said “To be truly educated, a student must …make connections across the disciplines, discover ways to integrate subjects and ultimately relate what they learn to life."

Maike has savored every moment of being part of the AKA Maputo family. “I feel it is a tremendous honour and responsibility to be part of creating sustainable systems for a newly-developing Academy. I hope to leave behind a legacy of having been a kind, compassionate and effective leader who played an essential part in providing our young leaders of the future with the highest quality of education that prepares them to enact positive change in the world they inhabit.”


Written by Perviz Walji