GEMS American Academy Qatar: An Institute Offering a Lot More than Quality Education

“We firmly believe that education is about overall student development and, as a GEMS international school community, we promote growth through learning, global citizenship, the pursuit of excellence, and leadership through innovation.”

Located at Al Wakra, Qatar, GEMS American Academy Qatar (GAAQ) is a state-of-the-art center of inspirational learning that enables students to make decisions independently, solve problems effectively, and interact positively with tolerance. This prominent school offers a rigorous American curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 to its multi-cultural student body. Along with U.S. core standards-based academics, it provides an Advanced Placement (AP) Program as well as a robust extra-curricular program to support the holistic development of a child.

The major learning principles of GAAQ are: developing healthy connections, goal setting, authentic assessment and constructive feedback, effective use of time, and nurturing independence and inquiry. This institution empowers its students to attain their goals and to become successful citizens in the global community. The academy actively cultivates the values of respect, innovation, leadership, purpose, and tenacity in their scholars.

The Guiding Light of GAAQ

Mark Lentz, the Head of the School, arrived at GAAQ in the spring of 2016. He defines the school as an amalgamation of top notch facilities, well-behaved and engaged students, dedicated teachers, and a positive, supportive learning environment. Under his leadership, GAAQ, as a young school, has grown quite a bit over the last few years. It has gone from 820 students to nearly 1,100 students, adding competitive sports teams, increasing academic rigor and support, introducing advanced placement classes, developing a student support team, creating a school motto and mascot, maintaining the highest parent satisfaction rate, all while furthering the school’s mission, “We are the Raptors and together we will soar to new heights!” says Mark.

Perfectly Tailored Curriculum

Early Years Curriculum

GAAQ’s early-years program is based on a creative curriculum revolving around five important developmental strands: social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and language. These are integrated into themed units throughout the year using interest centers based around drama, science, literature, art, creative play, music, gross-motor, outdoor play, and other free-play choices. The curriculum also includes other daily activities to promote developmental skills in all areas.

Elementary School: Grades 1 to 5

The school has a solid curriculum in place for these students that emphasize basic skills in all subject areas and introduces higher-level challenges to students to stimulate their interests. The curriculum fosters the concept that learning is enjoyable and rewarding as well as providing a variety of provisions to support individual learning. In addition to the core subjects, GAAQ allows students to have elective classes in physical education, music, art, Arabic language for native and non-native speakers, Islamic education for Muslims, library, and IT.

Middle School: Grades 6 to 8

The school realizes that children in this age group are transitioning into adolescence and exploring the essential questions of identity, purpose, and meaning more deeply than before. Therefore, GAAQ complements the core curriculum by including a variety of exploratory classes that make the middle-school experience special. Students are given a choice of which classes to take while exploring personal interests and possible career choices. The classes offered have been specifically designed by inspired, credentialed teachers to engage students in learning opportunities that focus on creating, connecting, and collaborating. The institute has grouped the learning skills in three strands: Literacies, Competencies, and Character Qualities.

High School: Grades 9 to 12

GAAQ believes that the recipe for excellence in high-school classrooms consists of knowledgeable adults, a focus on classroom culture, and a passion for the development of self and others. Within this framework, it is moving forward in its pursuit to get every student to and through college. For high school, the institute offers a dynamic college and career preparatory education and support system that encourages student achievement, maturity, and independence. Its classrooms have fewer than 25 students and it follows the norms of team and discussion-based learning. Alongside, all the teachers utilize technology to support and enhance their lessons and each classroom is equipped with CTouch technology.

In addition to this, GAAQ hosts various annual events including United Nations Day, Qatar National Day, and Spring Festival. To motivate its students, it also conducts a bevy of extra-curricular activities including sports, music, athletic initiatives, tutoring, and enrichment clubs. 

Life at GAAQ

At GAAQ, students enjoy an enriching student life experience through several outlets. The school has after school activity offerings such as sports, reading, art, yoga, chess, math, music and theater performances, service learning trips, girl scouts, volunteering, honors classes, AP coursework, and many more. Additionally, it has various student-led initiatives such as QINOCON, Yearbook Club, and monthly school spirit activities.

Students also benefit from the diverse school culture. GAAQ is home to over 80 different nationalities.  It is a representative of various multi-linguistic, multiethnic and multicultural parents, students, and school community members. In addition, GAAQ’s teachers have a similar diverse background, so students and teachers develop a trusting and genuine relationship. This international vibe at the school ultimately improves the quality of education, helps students feel safer, reflects the world, and challenges school administration to implement diversity programs that positively impact parents, students, and staff.

Making the Students Future-Ready 

GEMS American Academy Qatar believes that all people have unconditional worth and potential. So, one of its goals is to cultivate a lifelong and engaged learning environment where students, parents, and teachers pursue learning long-term and appreciate curiosity and imagination. Moreover, the school teaches in diversified learning styles, where students learn through various approaches such as visual, auditory, and tactile instructions. Also, students are encouraged to participate in global academic programs such as Model United Nations or the International History Bee to explore their passions. Owing to the same, one of GAAQ’s students created his own youth business conference in Qatar called ‘QINOCON’ and recently did a TEDx talk on ‘7 Precepts of Successful Event Organization’. The institute also supports student-led, teacher-supported initiatives, such as its AP Environmental Science class taking the charge on GAAQ becoming an eco-friendly, green school in 2019.

Ultimately, the school aims for its students to learn in the classroom and apply the knowledge through real-life applications so that they can understand and remember the experience.

Career Opportunities for Students

This academic year marks the first graduating class at GAAQ.  In fact, history was recently made as one of GAAQ’s seniors was recently accepted as an early applicant to George Mason University in Virginia, U.S.A!  Prior to graduation, the senior students at the school have been encouraged to take up internships outside of the school. This has helped them explore various career options and become more informed about possible career pathways that will influence their collegiate course of study.  At the conclusion of the school’s internship program, students create a presentation on leadership skills needed in today’s workforce and offer an honest reflection of their internship experience.

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