October 22, 2020

Dear Elementary Families,

It has been a great two weeks in elementary as we were able to bring our whole community together for our Hopes and Dream conferences last week, and our learning community together this week for our Professional Learning days.

What We Do On Professional Learning Days?

People often wonder what happens on professional learning days that schools organize throughout the year. I hold these days in high regard because they move learning forward. Being an excellent teacher is a rewarding but busy career. When I was a teacher I often felt the best description for non-teachers was to imagine holding a six hour meeting every single day. In that meeting there are a number of topics on the agenda that may or may not intertwine together and each agenda item has a shared intention and result. During that meeting of up to 25 people, you are responsible for ensuring the participation and shared success of all. Think of the people in your place of business. What are the challenges you would foresee, what are the personalities and what are the wins you know you will have? It does not end there though. After your day of meetings you will assess the success of all, and then plan for the next day with those same people, and on it goes throughout the year. This is something teachers do joyfully, with firm commitment and an incredible amount of hard work.

So, when professional learning days come along, it  is the opportunity  for the teachers to have time to focus on their craft, and this week they did just that. On Sunday and Monday our teachers engaged in K-12 and grade level meetings, but the highlight for me was the professional sharing our teachers engaged in with one another. Using our elementary divisional learning goals as the foundation for workshops, our teachers, educational assistants and leadership team, led, supported and participated in an incredible array of creative and engaging workshops that will enhance the learning of students across our division. Our two days were full of progressive and forward thinking ideas that challenged our assumptions, enhanced our practice, built capacity in our community and created a sense of interconnectedness that makes our school such a special place to be as educators and learners.

Elementary School Goals

Overall Guiding Question: 

How will we challenge each child to fulfill their own personal excellence?



Next week is Halloween. As Halloween is on a Saturday and school will not be in session on Thursday due to the Prophet’s Birthday (PBUH), our students are invited to dress up for Halloween on Wednesday, October 28. As always, costumes must be school appropriate and respectful of the UAE cultural expectations. Due to our current reality with COVID we will not host the annual parade but students will celebrate as a classroom community and we have a few other ideas to connect one another.

More information about the test can be found through this link: CAT4 Information for Parents
Should you have any questions about CAT4 testing at DAA please do not hesitate to contact Anne Gomez at a.gomez_daa@gemsedu.com

CAT4 provides a unique profile of student ability across four areas:

Verbal Reasoning – the ability to express ideas and reason through words is essential to subjects with a high language content, and the most obvious skill picked up by traditional assessment.

Non-Verbal Reasoning – the ability to problem-solve using pictures and diagrams - skills that are important in a wide range of school subjects, including math and science-based subjects.

Spatial Reasoning – the ability to think and draw conclusions in three dimensions, needed for many STEM subjects, but not easily measured by other assessments.

Quantitative Reasoning – the ability to use numerical skills to solve problems, applicable well beyond mathematics.

Final Thoughts

This fall has been one-of-a-kind. As leaders and educators our community is always focused on creating the best learning experience for our students. COVID has created an ever-changing environment based on new science, new policies and new expectations and we do our absolute best to be proactive, well-informed and act accordingly. This fall there have been a number of times where we have made changes, some last minute, that we have done with the best of intentions, but not always without challenges that impact our community. As always, we apologize for any inconveniences our decisions cause, but please know we are doing our best and we are so thankful and grateful for the trust the community has shown in all we do. These are challenging times for students, parents, teachers, staff, and leaders as COVID seems to be a marathon, more than a sprint, and we are incredibly appreciative of the trust you put in us to ensure your child grows in their own excellence as a learner and as little humans.

Have a great weekend.

Craig Cantlie

Executive Principal, Elementary

Photo Highlights from ES 

Elementary Update from October 13, 2020

A window into our world as a learning community.


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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: Grace Ajib  g.ajib_daa@gemsedu.com /04 704 9705

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

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