September 20th, 2018

I would like to start this edition of SPOTS by focusing on Gratitude. First, personally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for all in our community for reaching out to me with messages of support. As many of you know, I was on an emergency family leave this week. All is well, and the messages of care and thoughts speak volumes as to the “Culture of Kindness” that is shared by all members of our community.

Secondly, I am grateful for parents and their feedback both by email and in today’s first Middle School Parent coffee about the school and in particular, the scheduling this year. As our superintendent, Tammy Murphy noted in an earlier email message, we are committed to fixing the issues with the schedule to ensure your child is learning in an academically rigorous, and emotionally safe environment. We plan to meet again soon to address Islamic and Arts concerns.

On a related note, we have said goodbye to one of our Middle School Counselors, Ms. Chika who left our school early is September for personal reasons. On Sunday, we welcome Mr. Frank Becvar as our new Middle School Counselor. He will be working with Ms. Mira. Mr. Becvar has a long history of counseling in International Schools. Most recently he was the PreK-12 Counselor at the Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg, Russia. He will advise students in Pods 7B, 8A and 8B.

Now that we are entering our fourth week of school, we need to remind both parents and students of our student behavior expectations (including uniform policy) and consequences. As children enter Middle School, they are given greater freedom. The maxim, which still rings true today is, “With great freedom comes great responsibility”. Our aim, as a school, is to teach children, both in academics and in decision making processes. Your help, at home, assists us in maintaining the consistency of beliefs and practices within our community. Please refer to pages 15-20 of the Middle School Handbook found here. In particular, we have been having some issues with dress code violations. As we are a multi-cultural school hosted in the United Arab Emirates, we ask that students respect the dress code rules with particular attention to modesty. The coed is well explained on page 20 of the handbook. In particular we ask that no “skirt drifts above the knees” occur.

Today we celebrated our first house color day and also Peace Day, please see the drone video linked here, created by DAA’s Director of Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, Sreejit Chakrabbarty. The International Day of Peace this year is observed on Friday September 21. “Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

Back to School Parent Night will be on Wednesday, Sept. 26th. The evening will start at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium and run until 8:30 p.m. This is a time for parents to meet teachers as they review the academic and social/emotional program this year. This is not a time for individual student conferences.

School Photos for Middle School students will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Please remind your children to dress up smart, in their correct DAA school uniform. Grade 6 will be on Tuesday and Grades 7 & 8 on Wednesday and Thursday.

Map testing will begin September 30th. A schedule for our MS students will be distributed soon.

Our POD leaders sent out letters to all parents on Wednesday evening. In the letters they describe the new learning community and how it will provide each child with a nurturing environment where their core teachers can support them with guidance and care.

Please think of our Middle School as your child’s home away from home. We are here to support them throughout the school year with anything that may come up.

Warm Regards,

Harry Houlis and Aimee Fleming MS Admin Team

key contacts

Middle School Secretary: Sara Hole s.hole_daa@gemsedu.com / 04 704 9722

Middle School Attendance: Souraya Itani s.itani_daa@gemsedu.com / 04 704 9728