May 21, 2022

Dear High School Parents,

Yesterday marked an important day for our seniors- the last day of their AP and IB exams! After years of preparation, their hard work and dedication paid off. We sincerely thank you for your support at home as this is truly a team effort.  Our students came in well fed, rested and reassured that they were ready to tackle these exams. With the possibility of these exams being canceled, our students remained flexible in their thinking, yet vigilant in their studies. 

Over the last several months we have had a chance to focus on four key areas: Student Voice, Student Well-Being, Personalized Learning and Preparing Students for the Future. To ensure we had student’s feedback, we created a small committee of students across the grade levels to help pull out areas of strength and development in these key areas.  The group MetaHigh was formed.

Why Meta?

Meta defined: showing or suggesting an explicit awareness of itself or oneself as a member of its category : cleverly self-referential; meta comes from the Greek word for beyond.

DAA has grown, shifted and changed over the years. As a school we reflect constantly but need student voices on how we can continue to cultivate a high quality learning environment for all students well-being and future success.

Drawing from students' reflections and suggestions in MetaHigh, as well as parent and faculty feedback, we have been able to enhance our high school in these key areas and share some of our accomplishments below.

Student Voice

As a school, we ensure that student leaders at all levels have a voice at the table. This includes leaders in each CREW, grade level cabinet, student ambassadors and a robust student government. All clubs and charities in the high school are student initiated and student-led. 

Student government presidents sit on the Local Advisory Board for DAA and provide key insight, ideas and updates to our board members.  Our presidents then give feedback to our student community on the progress of our school towards our strategic goals and provide ideas and actions on how we can meet these together. 

Students are given any and all opportunities to initiate charities and events which support both the DAA and global community. A vivid example was from earlier in the second semester. ‘Old books for new eyes’ initiated by Camille Parisot who coordinated a book donation to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. She surpassed her initial goal and sent over 2100 books to these countries.  This is one glimpse of how students' passions and initiatives are embraced in our community.

Student Well-Being

Student well-being has been one of our key focuses in high school as we came out of COVID and knew that students' connections to school, friends and themselves needed immediate attention. 

Coming out of COVID, several initiatives were born, most prominent being our restructuring of Advisory (formally MEA) to CREW - standing for- Community-Responsibility-Empathy-Wellbeing. 

Daily check-ins by CREW teachers and weekly small group sessions foster strong relationships and nurture skills required to thrive in our new environment. 

We have various well-being initiatives, but the most impactful are those which the students have initiated and run themselves. One of our well-being clubs, Teen-to-Teen first aider, were trained by professional psychologists to support students through challenging situations. 

One of the most popular well-being initiatives among students is  ‘Dear Diego’, which is an open form for students to share their anxieties and stressors and receive suggestions such as coping strategies to help move through their difficult situation. 

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning can be seen in the day to day outstanding teaching and learning in our classes. Our teachers are masterful at creating student-centric learning which pitches the lessons at each student's zone of proximal development.  Student agency, choice and voice are pillars of our daily learning routines.  

We personalize our approach by supporting students when choosing their subjects for their upcoming school year. Students are engaged in multiple meetings both full class and individual to chart their path towards university and beyond. 

Due to our plethora of elective, US, AP and IB course choices, there are thousands of iterations of a student’s schedule to choose from.  Counselors meet both one on one and in small groups to help students decide which course and academic pathway is best for them.

This year we added a partnership with Arizona State University and by the end of this year we would have engaged students in nearly 80 individual college level courses earning over 225 college credits. We are so proud of our students this year and continue to gain additional partnerships with universities and programs which will enhance the opportunities students are able to engage in outside of the classroom. 

As a highlight for next year, we are happy to share that we will be adding a 6th counselor to our team to further ensure personalized approach to supporting students in an individualized manner. 

Preparing Students for the Future

In high school we are deeply proud of how we prepare our students for the future of their choice. 

Our core belief is that students who have the essential skills such as: resilience, problem solving, collaboration, flexibility and a growth mindset, will be well-positioned for whichever academic and or career path they choose. 

Opportunities to gain these skills can be seen in our approach to teaching and learning, ensuring students connect what they are learning to real-world scenarios in units of study and local and international experiences. 

Our students matriculate to universities around the world and move through higher education ready to tackle the rigors of university and career demands using the skills and knowledge learned in high school.

We are deeply proud of our alumni who are the world’s doctors, teachers, lawyers, engineers, etc and excited to be preparing our current students for careers which may not even exist currently. 

Most importantly however, we believe in developing a love for lifelong learning.

"Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you'll ever have is your mind and what you put into it." Albert Einstein

With deep gratitude of your support,

Tammy Jochinke

High School Principal

hsc week / work experience week

HSC Week Internship Experience

During HSC week I worked as a volleyball coach at Elite Volleyball Academy. I am a U19 volleyball player so naturally, I coached U8, U10, U12, U14, and U17. To be completely honest, I was not super excited to be working with little kids but after my first coaching session, I fell in love with the job. 

I feel like I have never been the best at collaborating with others but I feel like this job really helped me overcome that. I had to make up drills with other coaches which took a lot of collaboration and I also had to learn how to make the kids hear me when I was giving them advice. I also played a small part in collaborating with the company in order to find new ideas for social media accounts such as tik tok and Instagram. This taught me how to find things that will appeal to a certain audience and will promote the company.

Jude Tawfik (Grade 10)

HSC Week Internship Experience

This year’s selections for HSC Week were extremely difficult to choose from; the reason I ultimately decided to go for work experience was because I was tired of being told my goals for the future were unrealistic and something I’d end up regretting going into. With this in mind, I decided to look for law internships to get a taste of the foundation of working as a lawyer, as well as the work environment and experience. 

After I decided that this was the area I wanted to explore for HSC Week, I began drafting resumes and emailing every law firm I could find. The few responses which actually came through, came up negative considering the apparent near impossibility of a fifteen year old interning at a law firm in Dubai. At the last moment, I remembered a family friend who works in his company’s law sector. I was later able to get in contact with him and after a few conversations, CVs and reassurances that I could handle the workload and responsibilities, I was offered to come in the following week. 

The first day was full of independent research on different types of sales agreements, contracts and what elements came into play when drafting them. The rest of the day was dedicated to attempting to understand corporate finance law on my own. I was taken by surprise at the amount of freedom I had in the workplace which only motivated me to further get the work done. The end of the day was spent explaining my newly founded knowledge to the manager proving my capacities and ability to grasp new concepts quickly. Afterwards, I was briefed on the current case that I would be working on during the following week and planning next day’s work which would be to draft a contract for our clients needs.

I came in the following day and immediately went to my office and got to work. With so little guidelines and experience, I had to personally figure out which type of contract would work best for our situation. After further research I found the Merger Agreement to be most suitable; the main difference between a job and school is the amount of trust put into the work we do with so little assurances so I began drafting it immediately. Even though I knew this was a new direction we could tackle the case with, I trusted my intuition and briefed my manager on my idea. After the initial surprise that my limited experience had taken me so far, I was given the go ahead to continue the contract. 

The next few days were spent writing this up, making sure we could account for as many liabilities and risks as possible. I was finally finished and ready to present to my superior which went tremendously after a few tweaks. Despite the hard work that went into this, I can say with full confidence that it is so fulfilling. 

My contract was then sent on to our client and I was asked to draft an additional Acquisition Agreement to be able to give them both options, which I was happy to do. Now that I had gotten the hang of it, I was able to get the final contract done and sent off by the last day. 

This experience was something I will never forget, I am so proud of my accomplishments, the work environment was so warm and welcoming. I felt as though I was treated as an equal based on our abilities and despite my age gap with everyone else at the office. I was able to come and go as I pleased with full trust that I would get the work done. It was an extremely rewarding opportunity and only helped confirm my love for and future in law. 

Sotiria Pavlou (Grade 10)

Bizsmart Experience

I wanted to tell you about the Camp Bizmart Workshop that I participated in last week. In the course I got introduced to many new people around the school. I have also learned the importance of teamwork because throughout the course I couldn't get any work done alone as my team needed to examine everything that was done. 

We were feeling as if we were real company managers so we took everything seriously. At the end of the course we had to present our idea ( NFT Ring Token) to parents and judges and thanks to our hard work, our team (The Honey Badgers) won 1st place. I would recommend this course to anyone that would like to get into the area of entrepreneurship and business.

Ahmed Alawadi (Grade 10)

Iceland Adventure Trip

My experience during HSC week was by far my favorite trip of all time. When I landed in Iceland, I thought to myself : “Wow, I’m really spending a week alone away from my family.”  I was really nervous at the start - but things got better within just a day. We all went glacier trekking together the first morning. It was relatively dangerous and I was terrified. As soon as I got on that glacier I started shaking thinking I would fall. Nonetheless, everyone there supported each other climbing despite barely knowing one another and I found it beautiful. I learned many things in regards to teamwork and sticking together this trip. It was the best!

Afiya Sayal (Grade 10)

Heriot- Watt Visit

Overall, visiting Heriot Watt not only taught me new things, but also gave me insight into what a college campus could look like. The Heriot Watt Dubai campus is very different from what I knew and envisioned college campuses to be like, but I was able to see how there are certain areas for all students, and others focused on different fields of study. I also noticed that the classrooms were designed to have fewer students unlike some lecture halls elsewhere for hundreds of people, which is something that I think I would like when I go to university. 

When we visited the engineering facilities, I learned that students like me can reach out to the university if we are interested in using different tools for various projects, and I also found out about Heriot Watt’s “Engineer for a Day” workshops that occur every month. The tour of these facilities and the data science workshop on Wednesday definitely interested me the most, because they are fields that I have always enjoyed and can see myself studying at university. I learned a lot more about data science and having a job as a data scientist than I knew before, and I was introduced to what different courses someone would typically be required to take during their four years at university for this field.

On the second day, I didn’t know what the leadership workshop would be like, but I found that the aspect of psychology was very intriguing, and enjoyed the different activities that we did. I learned a lot about different types of leadership by watching the clips of characters and profiling them, and I was also able to reflect on the type of leader that I would follow and the type that I want to be. The group activity was also very interesting, because it showed how the way a person is taught can influence the way that they complete the task. After attending this workshop, I can better think about situations in which I might successfully be a leader, based on different characteristics. 

I can apply my learning from these visits in different ways as I continue high school and plan for college. 

Rianna Gupta (Grade 10)

Core corner

library update

Library Book Returns: June 1st

Although we are requesting all library books be returned June 1st to facilitate our inventory process, that doesn’t mean you have to stop reading! Click here to access our digital library, Sora, which is available across all of your devices throughout the summer and all school year long.

Senior Book Return Week: May 23 - 27

The official Senior Book Return Week will take place from May 23 to May 27. The library will be open for book returns from 7:15 - 3:30 from Monday, May 23, to Thursday, May 26, and from 7:15 - 12:15 on Friday, May 27. During this week, the Senior Clearance document will be updated as soon as the books are returned.

Students should have received a list of the books that they still owe. If there are any questions, please reach out to Ms. Brewer (a.brewer_daa@gemsedu.com).

One important point for students: If you have lost a book or have any fines, you must contact Ms. Brewer before paying in Accounts. She will process your fine (if we are no longer using the book, for example, you may not need to pay!) and then issue you a bill to pay in Accounts. After you pay, your Senior Clearance will be updated.

High School Textbook Return Week: June 20 - 24

Students in grades 9 - 11 are welcome to return their books during the Senior Book Week, which will take place from May 23 - 27 in the HS Library. However, if they need their books for end of year exams, they can keep the books until the HS Textbook Return Week, which will take place Monday, June 20 - Friday, June 24. During this week, students may return their books between end-of-year exams, which will still be taking place in the HS Library. 

Please note: Grade 11 IBDP students are not required to return textbooks this year, as they are part of a two-year course. 

national honor society

Over the last 6 weeks, the NHS has been busy wrapping up their initiatives for the year. The “Ask Your Seniors” initiative, led by Hannah Moore, gave students from grades 9, 10, and 11 the opportunity to ask any questions about their current or potential future courses from NHS Seniors who have taken them. In addition, the NHS established an academic support program where NHS members are paired with struggling students to provide them with a little extra support. 

DAA's first-ever 'Stride with Pride' fun run, led by Dhanishtha Upadhyay reached its fundraising goal of AED 1000 for Dubai Cares’s ‘Walk for Education’. The donation page is still open if you wish to donate to this great cause, just click on the ‘Stride with Pride’ campaign page

The Dubai chapter of the 'Electronic Waste Alliance' (EWA) was also present at the event to raise awareness about E-waste. Volunteers and participants were able to fill more than 4 bins with e-waste for recycling. 

As the school year winds down, the NHS would also like to say thank you and good luck to our grade 12 members who will be graduating. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the NHS:

Dalia Al-dhamin

Abdullah Alkuraya

Yena Bahn

Helena Barbieri

Aditya Borkar

Shreya Goel

Antonio Habis

Kai Henderson

Ayaan Khan

Shihyung Kim

Rebekka Laubenthal

Jisu Lee 

Muhammad Mahir Mahota

Ishan Malani

Jeannette Monteiro

Suryansh Moondhra

Mia Nachef

Christian Psycharis

Keila Reque Cruz

Sabina Saktaganova

Hyunjin Seo

Akshat Sinha

Jude Sousou

Dhanishtha Upadhyay

Lu Zhang

Special thanks goes out to the Parliamentarian, Carlos Eduardo Rangel Outeda, and our first ever chapter president, Ananya Sharma.

hs counseling

5.19.22 SPOTS HS Counseling.pdf

GEMS Alumni app

Seniors! Have you registered for the alumni APP?  Remember to stay connected beyond DAA using the app.  Here's a link to register for an upcoming session.   Register for the alumni webinar HERE.


HS General Email: 


HS Attendance Secretary

Roma Agtarap / 04 704 9747 / r.agtarap_daa@gemsedu.com

HS Secretary to Principals

Nashmia Saleem/ 04 704 9723 / n.saleem1_daa@gemsedu.com 

HS Secretary to Counselors

Alvin Agtarap/04 704 9831 / a.agtarap_daa@gemsedu.com 
Gr 9: Ms. JoAnn Porterfield A-Z https://jporterfielddaa.youcanbook.me  
Grades 10-12: Katrina Watson: (A-B) https://katrinawatson-4.youcanbook.me/  
Rhiana Courlander: (C-I) https://rhiana-2.youcanbook.me  
Phillip Wenturine: (J-Phi) https://mrphillipwenturine.youcanbook.me/  
Trisha Johnson: (Phil-Z) https://mstrishajohnson.youcanbook.me/  
HS Principal: Tammy Jochinket.jochinke_daa@gemsedu.com
Assistant HS Principal: Jim Atkinsonj.atkinson_daa@gemsedu.com
Assistant HS Principal: Joshua Doubledayj.doubleday_daa@gemsedu.com
High School IB Coordinator: Katie Sheffieldk.sheffield_daa@gemsedu.com
High School Dean of Students: Tara Oswaldt.oswald_daa@gemsedu.com