May 21, 2022

Dear Elementary Families,

It is hard to believe we are closing in on the end of May! Learning is still in full swing and we have much happening at the school over the next seven weeks! We provided you with important information in last week’s MailChimp which you can read here

Please note next week our students will be undertaking their School Wide Write assessments and then MAP testing begins the week of May 30. Please remember it is vital that students are present and on-time everyday, but particularly on MAP testing days.

This week I wanted to take a little time to share with you some of our work this year.


All our learning is grounded in i3. Our transdisciplinary units seek conceptual understanding of big ideas through the development of foundational skills. Our students have Learner Asset mindsets and innovation of thought is fostered through our nurturing of creativity, the development of communication skills and the confidence to critically think. Finally, our students have integrity. You see it in our classrooms and our hallways every day. Our students definitely have Leopard Pride!

Student Voice

We have an “every student has a voice” philosophy at our school. We also have a number of opportunities for students to be involved.

This year our Wellness Champions have been doing a wonderful job joining me for the Monday morning Weekly Announcements to the school. They have been providing information, sharing tips and tricks for wellness and contributing to a positive school culture overall.

Our Elementary Ambassadors continue to be formally part of new student welcoming and they have represented the school as needed.

The Student Innovation Team continues to collaboratively learn and lead with Ms. Frost. As we continue to navigate ourselves beyond covid restrictions, our Student Innovation Team is sharing their input into best Digital Citizen practices, how we can continue to be innovative both in thought and in our use of Ed-tech, and what it is that the students are ever more curious about.

Finally, as our persuasive writing units progressed, our students shared their thinking of ideas for the school - and some were excellent and may even be put into practice!

Student Agency

The OECD defines student agency as “the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others.

Through i3 our teachers create their lessons with student agency top of mind. In all their lessons our teachers are focused on ensuring our students have the skills, knowledge and competencies (Learner Assets) to achieve their personal excellence. This is done through explicit instruction and collaborating with the students on what they want to dive into for greater understanding and how they will demonstrate their thinking and learning. 

Whether it is classroom assessments or external testing such as MAP, our students are given the responsibility and tools to always demonstrate their best.

All of this would have been on full display in their student-parent-teacher conferences last term!


Coming out of covid we have been extremely mindful of the well-being of our community. 

Within i3, and as DAA we consider interconnectedness to be a key component of our school. That has meant grade level assemblies, whole school initiatives such as Funtasia where the students experienced Arts and Athletics differently and the welcoming of Middle and High School students into our classrooms to mentor and support our classes. 

Through all our social distancing and shared resource restrictions, our PE and Swim/Health team have continued to encourage physical exercise, good health, the importance of perseverance and a positive attitude. Our Fine Arts department teaches our students to embrace learning beyond academics and to find the artist and musician within.

Finally, our counselors conduct regular classroom sessions in partnership with our teachers to ensure a strong social-emotional well-being of our students.

Personalized Learning

Our purpose is centered around how we will support and challenge each student to achieve their personal excellence. Students learn differently, and we strive to match how we teach to each student to access and excel with the curriculum. 

Through our use of MAP assessment information, Fountas & Pinnell reading assessments and on-going formative assessments working with our students individually, our teacher knows their students and strategically creates learning personalized to them.

As an Ed-tech school we are also leveraging the newest technology such as Freckle, Ready Theory and Zorbits to engage and personalize the learning experience for students.

Finally, we are returning to learning showcases! Our students are empowered to dive into what matters to them and demonstrate their knowledge, joy and passion in presentations to others. 

We continue to avail more opportunities for students to choose their own path through ASAs, sports, productions as well as coding clubs and innovative technology.

Personalized learning means we explicitly teach students from where they are, to where they need to be. Most importantly though, is that along the way their voice and choice help guide their path forward.

“We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process–it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish." Sir Ken Robinson

Thank you for being part of our school community. We strive to be at the forefront of learning and the enthusiasm, perseverance and drive of your children within our inquiry-based environment make it a joy to ensure we support and challenge them each and every day.

Have a great weekend.



Craig Cantlie

Executive Principal of Elementary

KG1 Learning

Dear KG1LG Parents 🌸

Here are some images of us beginning our understanding of striking. We strike in golf ⛳️ , hockey 🏒, tennis 🎾…etc.

The first step is to explore how to keep the balloon 🎈 in the air. The next step will be striking the balloon 🎈

KG2 Learning

Quote of the week: Reading opens minds, promotes tolerance, openness and communication, and prepares an educated, informed and open-minded people, veering them away from extremism and impenetrability - His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

We had a wonderful week that started in festive Eid attire and ended with sportswear. 😊

In inquiry, the children designed and built their own habitat models. They have been using their researching skills to inquire about different habitats. They also explored human impact on habitats and were given a choice, a voice and an agency to demonstrate their understanding. 

In numeracy, the children have been counting and organizing objects into groups of 10 and beyond. They were introduced to the concept of place value and have been doing many hands-on activities. 

In literacy, for the readers workshop, we have been talking about "Avid poetry readers read a poem over until the tune is right, the feeling is right." We introduced various habitat related poems to the children. They chose their favorite poem and matched the beat of the poem. The children were Collaborators as they worked together to record the poems in small groups. During the writers workshop, the children have been working on persuasive/opinion writing pieces. They wrote letters to tell people why we should protect the habitats and they also wrote books about their best friends and they gave reasons why they like their friends.

From the library

Library Announcement.pdf

Upcoming events

the lorax.mp4


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key contacts

Should your child(ren) need to be away from school due to illness or appointments, please contact our School Secretaries.

KG1 - Grade 2: Shirley Vas  s.vas_daa@gemsedu.com / 04 704 9705

Grades 3-5: Rene Botha  r.botha1_daa@gemsedu.com /04 704  9724

General Elementary Inquiries:  elementary_daa@gemsedu.com

Craig Cantlie 

Executive Principal of Elementary (K - Grade 5)c.cantlie_daa@gemsedu.com

Nathalie Salemeh   

Elementary Principal, Grades 4 and 5n.salameh_daa@gemsedu.com

Noha Bishara              

Assistant Elementary Principal, Grades 2 and 3n.bishara_daa@gemsedu.com

Tooshna Gandhi          

Assistant Elementary Principal, KG1, KG2 and Grade 1t.gandhi_daa@gemsedu.com