The Panther Perspective

GEMS United School Monthly Newsletter -

1st Edition

Kate Vavpetic

Head of School

Dear Parents,

The first two weeks of 2019-20 are in the books!

We are working on micro-shifts of practice this year in order to promote consistently excellent teaching across the school. Lee Watanabe-Crockett, who is guiding some of our work this year, notes in his book, Future Focused Learning, that students learn best when they understand the overall curricular concept or context in which they’re learning and when they develop with teachers the criteria by which they will measure their success.

For example, when learning about elements of the periodic table in Science, rather than focus on the skill of learning the periodic table first, teachers might frame the work in the following way. They would begin the unit with a Learning Intention like “How We Categorize the Natural World,” and the success criteria developed in collaboration with the students might be that by the end of the unit students will recognize, know, understand, and be able to use the periodic table of elements. Or, a teacher may have a learning intention around the concept of life cycles of living organisms and systems. Within that learning intention, students might learn both about salmon and their breeding habits and caterpillars and their metamorphosis, among other topics.

Rather than teaching to discreet standards or topics within the curriculum, focusing on the meta-concept that connects each of the topics and/or standards allows teachers to provide a framework under which students can practice higher-order thinking and critical-thinking skills. Students gather knowledge, connecting it to broader concepts and questions, which allows them to apply that knowledge in innovative ways. We are still focused on personalizing instruction from last year; learning intentions and success criteria enhance that work as students become intentionally collaborative partners in their learning.

These small shifts of language and organization of curriculum provide room for curious learners to be inspired, and to reach beyond superficial acquisition of knowledge to a deep understanding of broad concepts and ideas. Just this week, I see shifts in our classrooms. Grade 7 Social Studies students were talking about differences between explaining, comparing, and analyzing. Not only were they learning about the types of questioning historians use within their academic field, they were learning how to think about thinking.

It’s an exciting time to be a learner at GEMS US. We are very glad you’re on this journey with US. Here’s to an amazing year!




News & Announcements

  • AP Exam Registration & Payment - If your child is taking an AP course, he/she will need to register and pay for the AP external exam by Thursday, Oct. 3rd. This date is much earlier than in years past. Please be sure to complete the process by the deadline. See the Secondary section below for form and more details.
  • CAT4 , MAP & PSAT Testing - Students in grades 1, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 will be taking CAT4 assessment testing until Sept. 19th and MAP testing for grades 6-11 will be conducted Sept. 22-26 and elementary grades 1-5 Sept. 29-Oct. 10 . PSAT for grades 10 & 11 will be administered to students on Oct. 16th.
  • United Parents Welcome Meeting - If you would like to be involved in planning events, lending a helping hand or have a skill you would like to share, come and hear all about the opportunities available on Tuesday, Sept. 17th at 5:30pm (30min. before Elementary Back to School Night). Also, see the section titled United Parents below for more news.
  • Elementary Back to School Night - We would like to invite parents to our Pre-K through Grade 5 back to school evening event Tuesday, Sept. 17th from 6:00-7:30pm where you will learn more about your child's learning experience and gain more insight into classroom routines and activities. Special note, this is a parents only event; therefore, please plan accordingly for childcare.
  • Student Council Application Deadlines: It's that time of year, the call for students to submit their applications for the 2019-20 Student Councils. The application deadline for Elementary students (Grades 1-5) has already passed. Middle School (Grades 6-8) & High School (Grades 9-12) application/nomination forms are due on Thursday, Sept. 19th by 4pm to Mrs. Hansen (MS) in room C005 and Mrs. Uekermann (HS), room D008. See more details outlined in the Elementary & Secondary sections below for next steps.
  • After School Activities (ASAs): After School Activities are offered to students in grades 1-12. Outside vendors will be on campus Tuesday, Sept. 17th from 1:00-2:00pm to answer any questions you may have about paid opportunities available this term. Click here for a listing of vendors. For in-house ASAs, registration will begin the week of Sunday, Sept. 22nd and ASAs will begin the week of Sunday, Oct. 6th. You will receive an email with detailed instructions and a list of offerings the weekend before registration begins.
  • Individual and Class Student Photos (Prek-Gr. 12) - Stu Williamson will be on campus for student photos Sept. 24th-26th. We are also happy to offer sibling photo opportunities this year after school on Tuesday, Sept. 24th and Wednesday, Sept. 25th. See the details below to schedule a sibling photo shoot.
  • Slices Going Cashless - Please note our canteen will be going cashless at the end of the month. For information about how to register for Slices hot lunch services, see the Slices section in either the Elementary or Secondary news below. If you need any assistance, speak with our Slices representative Ms. Marissa on campus or via email at
  • Accounts Open On Saturdays - Our Accounts Office will be open for the next three Saturdays, from 8am-2pm Sept. 14th, 21st and 28th for anyone needing to pay school fees.
  • Sports Teams- For details regarding try-out results and important elementary sports information, see the section titled Sports below.


Important Information - KG1 & KG2

Our KG1 Stay n' Play sessions begin next week. KG1 students dismiss at 2:30pm and students can stay and play from 2:30-3:30pm. Please be sure to inform your homeroom teacher that your child will be joining us for our free Stay n' Play sessions led by our caring Teaching Assistants. KG2 students will begin their full school day beginning next week with dismissal at 3:30pm.

Join US for Back To School Curriculum Night!

Community Sharing

Every month we come together as an elementary community from Pre-K to grade 5 to share students' learning with peers and parents. All parents are welcome to join us during Community Sharing and our first formal assembly will kick-off on Thursday, Oct. 3rd from 8:45-9:15am.

Elementary Student Council

If your child submitted an application to become involved in Student Council, please be sure he/she will be able to attend meetings every Monday at 7:45am.

What happens next?

  • Campaign posters and leadership videos for grade 5 are due by Monday, Sept. 16th to Ms. Richardson
  • Classes will cast their votes the week of Sept. 22nd and we will then be ready to announce our 2019-20 Elementary Student Council members.


Seesaw is a communication application we utilize in elementary, KG1 through grade 5, where teachers communicate important information and students share their learning experiences with you.

If you have any questions regarding the application or have yet to get connected with your child's class, please reach out to your child's homeroom teacher for assistance.

Jewels of Kindness

Has your child exhibited exemplary behavior towards family members and others in the community. Share your story with US. Email Ms. Richardson at .

As part of GEMS Values Education program, we want to partner with you to foster and encourage children to be kind, respectful, compassionate and show empathy towards others. We know are students have remarkable values and we want to give them recognition.


Parents of elementary students in Pre-K through Grade 4, can order a hot meal online via slices. You must first register at and then you will enter a portal to order and pay from a menu online. If you registered last year, you will simply need to login to access their portal.

Please note Slices online menu-ordering system is temporarily down. I will inform you when services resume. In the meantime, you can contact our Slices Supervisor, Ms. Marissa, on campus via phone 04 818 3600 or in person to make an order until services are restored.

Grade 5 students need to register for a student ID card with reception. Once you have your child's student ID, you will be able to top-up their card via the canteen or cafe or via their online portal (50dhs miminum charge). To top-up online you will need to register for an account using the student ID at ; then login to the portal and add money to your child's card.


Calling all Student Council Candidates

See the posters below for details on how to become involved in Student Council this academic year.


To purchase a hot lunch students need to register for a student ID card with reception. Once you have your child's student ID, you will be able to top-up their card via the canteen or cafe or via their online portal (50dhs miminum charge).

If you already have a Slices account, you simply need to login and you will be prompted to enter information from your child's student ID card. If you have a balance from last year, it will be credited to your child's ID card.

If you are new to Slices, you will need to register for an account using the student ID at ; then login to the portal and add money to your child's card.

Please see the bottom of the newsletter for September menu information and this year we have also added live cooking stations which cost 15dhs/meal.

Jewels of Kindness

We are continuing the GEMS Values Education program and recognizing students who exhibit exemplary behavior towards family members and others in the community. Share your story with US. Email Mr. Murphy at .

This week we recognize Sofia Laurenborg & Maya Khoury, both in 7th grade, who took it upon themselves to prepare a "get well" meal for their friend who was ill and delivered it to her home. This is a great example of our students showing compassion for others.

Advanced Placement (AP) Registration & Payment

The letter below provides all of the details for students registered in AP classes. Please click here for the exam schedule as well as the registration form you will need to pay for the exam in accounts.

Model United Nations

Model United Nations (MUN) is an academic simulation of the United Nations where students play the role of delegates from different countries and attempt to solve real world issues with the policies and perspectives of their assigned country.

Students participate at local and international Model United Nations conferences and display the public speaking and debating skills they acquired as MUN delegates. If you/your child is interested, see the poster for more details.


Season 1

Thank you to all the students who came to sports try-outs this week. All of the coaches were impressed with the enthusiasm, effort and skill demonstrated at their sessions this week. Click on the link for a glimpse of this week's try-outs in action.

We are all very excited to see how each and every one of our teams progress this season! Students in secondary who tried out this week should check the notice boards outside F105 for selected team lists.

Please know that some coaches have asked for one more try-out or have shorted their squads to allow another opportunity for some students they need to see more.

Students in MS volleyball and in elementary soccer will all be added to a team and do not need to wait for a team list. Students who attended swimming assessments will be contacted directly by the swimming coaches. Have a look at our training schedule for week one and our sports lists for season 2 and 3.

Late Bus

if you/your child rides the bus and would like to take the late bus home at 5pm after practices, please register with STS and they will plan accordingly. If you do not pre-register, you will not be able to take the late bus home.

Elementary Sports

If your child is participating in an elementary sport, please inform your child's homeroom teacher if he/she is attending after school Development Swimming on Sunday or Elementary Soccer on Monday. All students are welcome to come on Monday.

Students should not be picked up by parents and brought to the gym as they will be brought altogether to the auditorium to meet their coaches before breaking off to the gyms for practice. Please, no studs or cleats as we are practicing indoors until the weather cools down.

Recognizing Sports Achievements

We are always inspired by the achievements of our GEMS US community. If your child is participating or competing in a sports event outside of school make sure to let us know! We want to wish them well and we love recognizing their amazing achievements.

This summer we had two students share their outstanding Achievements. Congratulations to Ebba Lind in Grade 9 and Ziad Albassyouni in grade 11 for their awesome sporting achievements this summer.

Secondary Golf

SEEKING GOLFERS! Secondary students interested in representing GEMS US in golf this year need to register their interest and provide their handicap to Mr. Kirwan this week.

This year all the golf tour dates will be hosted by Jumeirah Golf Estates and the following tour dates have already been set.

1. Monday September 30th at 3.30pm

2. Monday October 28th at 3.30pm

3. Tuesday December 10th at 3pm

4. Monday January 13th at 3pm

5. Monday 3rd February at 3pm

6. Monday 2nd March at 3.30pm

If your child is interested in being part of our team, the deadline for registration is Tuesday 17th of September. Elementary Golf commences in Season 2 so we will notify parents in advance to register for the elementary team.

Follow Panther Sports

Please make sure to follow US @ us_panthers on Instagram and Twitter!

Liam Kirwan, Athletic Director

For any questions regarding sports training, games or events, please email


Welcome From the GEMS US Counseling Team

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ~ Henry James

Counselor Corner is our opportunity to share what’s coming your way from the counseling department at GEMS United School. Our counseling team is here to support students, parents and faculty. We have a counselor in each division who understands the developmental needs of our learners and we are excited to work together to support the holistic growth of all our students. Matthew is an expert in all things “college” as well. We are specialists in transition and happy to have a chat about this roller-coaster that is expat life.

Upcoming Events and General Information:

1. Stop by our Wellbeing Hub in C-Block. Just inside the main door. Our new ES counselor, Megan Richardson, has created a magical space for our elementary students.

2. Stop by the library and check out the amazing parenting resources that Ms. Landry has created. Experts sharing important information about the developmental needs of students in all three divisions.

3. Parent Coffee mornings will be hosted by the counseling team at different times through the year. Look for those announcements in future Newsletters.

If you have any questions regarding “all things counseling” please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Megan Richardson - ES Counselor -

Joseph Murphy - MS Counselor -

Matthew Abbate - HS Counselor -


Welcome to a New School Year

We would like to welcome all our new GUS parents and welcome back all our returning parents. What a great first 2 weeks of school!

Now that we have completed two of the three Parent General meetings, we are encouraged by all those whom attended and excited for a great year. We have one more opportunity for you to hear about who we are, what we do and take a look at the plans we have this year.

      • Sept. 17th at 5:30 pm in F005

Here is a little teaser of what we discussed in our general meeting. We are parents of children at GEMS United School and we are serving one mission:

“To help build and sustain the community among the parents, students, faculty, and staff of the school.”

Why: Our belief is that greater parent involvement enriches the educational experience for everyone, especially our children.

How: The achievement of this mission relies upon parent cooperation, parent volunteers, and a partnership with the school. We are committed to accomplishing the mission in 4 distinct ways:

● Enrichment Events and Socials

● Community In-reach

● Teacher/Staff/Parent Support

● Fund Generation for Events

To accomplish these goals requires the energetic deployment of diversely talented volunteers in a team approach and with your involvement and unique perspective, we look forward to making another memorable year at GEMS United.

How Do I Stay Informed?

For more information stay tuned to this section in the school newsletter, take a look at the Parent Bulletin Board in the main lobby, look for posters around campus, email, or check us out on the Facebook private group: GEMS US Community Chat.

First Event - Bake Sale

Calling ALL Bakers, Calling ALL Bakers! It is time to start baking (or buying ;-))! What a “treat" for our children to start their day with a homemade breakfast OR an afternoon snack on Thursday, September 26th.

We need YOUR HELP to make that happen! We are hoping to have a lot of different and healthy options for the kids, so consider any recipes that are gluten free, vegan and/or dairy free.

Please, remember NO nuts, pork or alcohol. We will have two different times for drop off for your convenience. You can drop off breakfast items (muffins, breakfast cookies, fruit cups, etc) on Wednesday, September 25th during dismissal.

All other donations can be dropped off on Thursday, September 26th, from 8am-2pm. We ask that each item be individually wrapped, and contain NO nuts, pork or alcohol. Looking forward to a DELICIOUS day at school!


September Menus (Gr. 5-12)

Located on our GEMS US website under the Parents tab; you can also click here - September Menus

We also now offer a live cooking station daily. Please see the details below for the weekly menu. Cost is 15dhs per meal.

Slices Registration

Want to register for Slices canteen services? Click the parent Sign-Up link below.


When your child is ill or will not be attending school, you will need to inform the school about your child's absence to the following GEMS US staff member:

Please include your child's name, grade & section along with a day of expected return (if known).

For extended absences , please complete the absence form and return to the appropriate staff member noted above for approval by the Principal.

To view your child's report cards, grades (Gr. 6-12), MAP results and CAT 4 (for applicable grades), visit our Plus Portals login page (Secondary). Elementary families need to login at Plus Portals login (Elementary)

Your user name is your registered email (each parent has a separate account) and your password is specific to your requirements.

You can select "can't access your account" to recover/reset your unique password. If you need assistance, please contact Suja at


Interested in applying for the FAB GEMS Credit Card?

Contact Mr. Mohamed Abdul Wajeed at 050-6167137 or Mr. Jijesh K 052-7575967 to learn more about the GEMS FAB credit card. Alternatively, you can email

Have you downloaded GEMS Rewards?

Don't miss the opportunity to save! Download the app today from the App store or Google Play and begin saving today.

There are many 2 for 1 deals on food, entertainment, beauty and attractions and you can apply for the GEMS FAB credit card to save on tuition and apply for the the GEMS Ambassador program at your fingertips.



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