March 4, 2021

March: The Month of Reading


 #MyFamilyReads #MonthofReading

In line with the rest of the UAE, DAA High School is participating in the Month of Reading this March. The UAE has adopted the theme “My Family Reads” to encourage the whole family to get in on the reading game. In the High School we are expanding that theme to celebrate any and all reading for the month of March. 

March is a bit of a chaotic month for us, with the HSC/HL Week, PTCs, and Spring Break, but we’ll make the most of the three weeks in between. There are also tons of special days to celebrate in March, meaning it’s a jam-packed month. Whew!

Although we’re limited due to social distancing, throughout the month we will have many activities to highlight reading and encourage everyone - students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents - to take a pause, pick up a book, and enjoy a moment of reading!

Student spotlight

Leadership Update: Director of High School Academic Pathways

We are so very excited to announce that Ashley Szar, current HOD of Science will be joining the HS Administration team next academic year as the Director of HS Academic Pathways.She will directly oversee and develop our different pathways to graduation (IB, AP/IB, US High School, Modified and a new pathway for Artificial Intelligence).

Ashley joined GEMS Dubai American Academy in August 2017. Ashley’s roles at DAA include teaching high school science and serving as the head of the high school science department. Prior to joining DAA, Ashley taught middle school and high school science in Texas, and served as an officer in the United States Air Force.  


Ashley holds a Bachelors of Science in Biology, Masters of Science in Management, and Masters of Arts in Teaching. Ashley is a life-long learner who values education as a means to pursue personal and professional ambitions. Ashley is passionate about developing and delivering high-quality, meaningful curriculum that is accessible to all learners.


Ashley is joined in Dubai by her husband Charles, an aviation executive, son Benjamin in Grade 11, daughter Anna in Grade 10, and Daisy, her English Bulldog. Ashley enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her family.

Learning spotlight

High School Physics - Mission to Mars Unit

This project was designed to celebrate that the UAE Hope probe has now successfully reached orbit around Mars.  As part of the Hope Probe, the Exploration Imager will take images of the surface.  One such photo was released on Feb 10, 2021 has given us a close look at the surface of Mars.  In this project, students moved forward in time to when the scientists have noted three areas of interest on the surface from the Exploration Imager. Since it takes 13-26 minutes for signals from Earth to reach the surface, remote driving on the surface is not possible.  

In the Centre for Excellence, students needed to learn how to code Spheros robots to move around a flat 2D map.  After learning how to control their robots, the students extended themselves to using a 3D model.  

Problem solving was very important as the groups needed to decide the order in which to collect the data from 3 different sites.  Each site had different factors to overcome such as ramps and different surfaces that needed to be accounted for.  The route they chose directly impacted the coding that was needed to be successful.  This was more than just theory, real-life practicality had to be considered.


Our HL biology students working on their independent investigations. They are completing experiments in everything from factors affecting bacterial inhibition, to enzyme efficiency, vitamin c content of vegetables, membrane permeability as well as factors affecting plant growth and transpiration rates and lots more. Each student has to research and carry out their own investigation and it will comprise 20% of their final IB grade.

This week, we have held our annual HSC Week. Typically, this has been our week where students complete community service experiences, work experience as well as travel on unique experiences throughout the world. Of course, this week has been different and has meant that we have had to adjust our planning.

This week, Grade 9 students have had a busy week full of workshops ranging from Subject Selection to becoming a financially capable individual. Many of these workshops were delivered by INJAZ. They are a wonderful non-profit organization that work with students all over the world.

We have been very proud of our Grade 9 students for their level of engagement throughout the various workshops. Well done! 

Grade 10 students who were not in AP classes have had a lot of choice of how they spent their time this week. As a result, we have had Grade 10 students take part in either: 

Grade 11 students who were not in AP classes or HL classes have had work assigned in their core classes. They have also had the opportunity to take part in:

Grade 12 students who were not in Mocks or AP classes have had work assigned in their core classes. They have also had the opportunity to take part in:

Recently, we have sent out Parent/ Student emails outlining the Subject Selection process and timeline.

We have held Question and Answer Zoom Sessions with Parents at each grade level in the evenings of this past week and had many wonderful questions and conversations during these sessions.

Please refer to our Subject Selection Website for more information as it pertains to each grade level, subject area and academic pathway.

High School Counseling Corner

3.3.21 SPOTS HS Counseling.pdf

MS/HS Musical

It’s a Wrap! The cast and crew have now completed all the production work for the MS/HS musical production and are now working hard in the post-production stage to create the final video. 

MASK-I-CAL will premiere LIVE on the DAA Youtube channel Thursday 18th March at 7pm. 

We encourage all the DAA community to save the date, and watch from the comfort of your own home. With a cast of 30, band of 5 and crew of 38, this incredible, talented and hard working group of students have put this together since November 2020. The show includes 15 songs from 14 musicals, as well as a glimpse from behind the scenes. The Youtube link will be posted in the next edition of SPOTS on the 18th March and on social media. We hope you all enjoy the performance! 


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

Jan Evans/04 704 9831 / j.evans_daa@gemsedu.com 
Gr 9: Ms. JoAnn Porterfield A-Z https://jporterfielddaa.youcanbook.me  
Grades 10-12: Katrina Watson: A-C https://katrinawatson-4.youcanbook.me/  
Rhiana Courlander: D- Kep https://rhiana-2.youcanbook.me  
Steven Johanson: Kh-Q https://sjohanson.youcanbook.me/  
Trisha Johnson: R- 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: Lisa Fosterl.foster_daa@gemsedu.com