September 7th, 2021

Dear Elementary Families,

It has been a wonderful return to school for all of us. Though the elementary division was fortunate to have all our students on-campus last year, the ability for our students to now move from the rows of desks we had in 2020-2021 to our flexible learning environments, has been a very welcome shift.

We were purposeful in our return to school last week in that we focused on community building in the classrooms. After the past 18 months, connecting with one another and creating learning spaces where students feel valued and known were key imperatives. 

As we begin to shift into the school year and more routine learning experiences, I wanted to provide you with a short overview of a number of subject areas and some visuals on how it already began in Week 1.


For us, literacy is about the ability to understand, analyze and synthesize information. It is about teaching our students to be strong communicators who are empowered to share their ideas and impact the world around them.

We continue to teach through the Reader and Writer Workshop model, based on the Reading and Writing Workshop Project at Columbia University. Through this model our teachers lead curricular specific mini-lessons that then shift into small group and individual instruction. It is a highly personalized approach to literacy learning and has been a strong focus of professional development for our teachers. The impact has been improved reading and writing skills across our grades.


Numeracy is about logical thinking, reasoning, problem solving and the recognition of patterns. For us, our goal is to ensure students are aware of the applicability and relevance of math in their lives. Through meaning making our students understand the importance of math and strive to excel in their learning. 

We have a fully aligned numeracy curriculum that focuses on both conceptual understandings and concrete knowledge of math facts. This year a number of our new elementary teachers have expressed how impressed they have been with our students’ ability to communicate their understanding of math concepts. We continue to follow the Common Core state standards, strategically use Eureka Math as a resource, embed the practices of Mindset Mathemetics by Dr. Boaler at Stanford University and collaboratively spiral numeracy learning and strategies across our grades.

Inquiries into Socials and Science

Inquiring into concepts such as power, change, systems, survival and more are opportunities for our students to gain transferable knowledge they will apply throughout their lives. We provide our students with the opportunity to become critical, creative and process driven thinkers who have the tools to shape the world around them.

Our scope and sequence is based on the Connecticut Common Core curriculum use of Next Generation Science Standards and College Career and Civic Life Framework. Our teachers bring these standards to life through inquiries into broad essential questions where learning is driven through our Solution Fluency Inquiry model. Inquiry learning is highly curated by our teachers so that students have the skills ability to ask good questions, develop effective research skills and demonstrate high level understanding through the synthesis of the information they have learned throughout the unit. Our work continues to be informed by experts such as Lee Crockett, Kath Murdoch, Trevor Mackenzie and more.

It has been an excellent return to school and we cannot be more thankful to you for your contributions in support of us in that. We look forward to having you in virtually for Opening Night on Wednesday, September 15. We have an excellent year ahead!


Craig Cantlie

Executive Principal, Elementary 

KG1 New Student Orientation Day

Every September we look forward to welcoming the newest group of Little Leopards to the DAA campus. We were so thrilled to once again, greet each new smiling face and welcome them to the first day of their learning journey! Flip through the album to see what they are "in" for!




KG2 Learning

Our first week was full of learning, well-being, and celebrations of what makes us unique. With over 100 nationalities at DAA, we are always thrilled to share about our different cultures through dress.


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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: Alice Lomas  a.lomas_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