Curriculum By Division

Helping our students find the right path



Aroma Pannu

Assistant Head for Elementary (Pre-K - GR5)

Welcome to GEMS US

As a life-long learner I hold a Bachelor of Arts with specialization in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, and Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior Divisions from the University of Ottawa, Masters of Science in Educational Leadership, and a Graduate certificate in Educational Technology and Informational Literacy. 

I come to GEMS US with 20+ years of experiences in a variety of roles that have allowed me to work with children from 2 years of age right up to high school. These experiences have helped me believe in the power of developing positive relationships and building strong connections throughout the school community.

As an educator I strive to create a warm, caring, engaging and joyful learning environment focused on meeting the holistic developmental needs of a young child. Through a teaching

journey that has spanned American International Schools in the UAE, Egypt, Indonesia, India, and Germany, I have developed a firm belief that children’s interests and play are powerful vehicles for learning during the foundational years of school.

With home being north of Toronto, Canada I have also been lucky to grow up as a Third Culture Kid spending some of my formative years in Dubai. Now, my husband Mr. Murphy and I are greatly enjoying the adventure of bringing up our three children as global nomads. Outside of the ‘school’ day I can be found reading, walking, and spending time with my family. I am very excited to be a part of  GEMS US and look forward to meeting you.

Kindergarten (PRE-KG, KG1 and KG2)

Pre-KG and KG1

Age: 3 and 4 years old

The formative years of Pre-KG and KG1 introduce children to learning in a caring, safe, supportive and nurturing environment, where they are encouraged to explore, discover and make choices throughout their day.  Play is at the center of the program and considered a child’s “work” as they expand their ability to work cooperatively while strengthening their social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities. 

Through carefully planned experiences students are introduced to:

  • English (letters, sounds, speaking and listening)
  • Math (numbers, shapes)
  • Creative Expression (colors, drawing, painting, creating)


Age: 5 years old

The KG2 year introduces children to the US Common Core curriculum and is considered the first year of formal education in the American system.  Children begin to apply their letter/sound knowledge as they emerge as readers and writers.  In mathematics, strong numeracy skills are developed through meaningful, hands-on experiences.  Instruction is personalized to meet each child’s established learning goals.  KG2 children continue to enjoy opportunities for choice and play in our purpose-built, expansive indoor and outdoor areas.


Elementary School (Grades 1 - 5)

Ages: 6 - 10 years old

Elementary School is more structured and text-based than Kindergarten, but students are transitioned into the higher levels of learning at an appropriate pace while new levels of learning are developed.

At GEMS United School, the core subjects in Primary School are:

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Arabic
  • Islamic Studies
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Music
  • Art
  • Library Science
  • Instructional Technology

Students are continuously supported and parents are encouraged to be involved in their child's educational experience. 







  •  Bachelor of Science in Education- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  •  Master’s in Education- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  •  Cultural Language and Academic Development certification from California
  •  Reading Specialist certification from California

Who am I?

I am originally from Minneapolis but have lived in Washington D.C, Los Angeles, and most recently Abu Dhabi.  I have always been interested in education and supporting our youth.  I followed that career path upon discharge from the United States Air Force. I love to travel and never knew that my passion for education would take me halfway across the world.  On my off days you will usually find me playing tennis or enjoying the beach. 

My Experience:

I started my career as a Social Studies teacher in middle school. I then moved to Los Angeles and taught fourth grade for five years.  I knew that I wanted to support other teachers and English Learners so I transitioned to being a literacy coach for two elementary schools within the Los Angeles Unified school district.  I decided to further my career by transferring to Los Angeles County to work with incarcerated youth in a new program that focused on reading intervention. During my tenure, I was promoted to Assistant Principal. I wrote a grant that would support a project based learning initiative, and for the first time our students held exhibitions for the community to demonstrate their learning. This was a huge accomplishment for them and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  I had always wanted to travel so I decided to move to the UAE. My first two years have been an amazing experience and I look forward to many more. 

My Educational Philosophy:

“What you believe, you will achieve. I have taken this mantra with me wherever I go.  All students can learn if they are given a supportive environment and the space to grow.  As part of the leadership team, it is my priority to support staff and students to provide them with the tools they need to be the best they can be.”

My Priorities for GUS:

  •  To learn about the students, staff, and GEMS culture so I can support our team
  •  Provide parents with any support and/or guidance they may seek for their child’s future
  •  Lead assemblies to promote school pride and student achievements

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Ages: 11 -14 years old

By Middle School, students have formed a basis of understanding in core competencies and begin to seek opportunities of learning in areas of interest. Social and emotional development is supported alongside intellectual development as students are prepared for High School.

In Middle School the core subjects are:

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Science
  • Arabic (for native and non-native speakers)
  • Islamic Education (for Muslim students)
  • Physical Education (PE)

Elective programs include:

  • Instrumental Music
  • World Languages
  • Art

Many students begin to further develop their skills in competency areas during these grades and are often actively involved in extra-curricular activities.


High School (Grades 9 - 12)

Ages: 15 - 18 years old

Grade 9 and Grade 10

In the early years of High School, students begin to take more control of their academic plans, tailoring them to suit their interests. This approach is one of the foundation steps of preparing students for college wherein they have complete control over their course structure, limited only by accomplishment level. We offer a wide range of subjects to meet the varying student-competencies and interests. The levels of learning are set quite high, as we provide the support and teaching to enable students to meet these advanced levels.

Grade 11 and Grade 12

Upon successful completion of these final grades of school, students will receive their High School Certificate which, with the appropriate grade point averages, will render them eligible for college entry. These years are the most academically advanced, and students are fully supported by the school as we prepare them to graduate and enter the world. The study plans are heavily self structured, and students are guided at all times when designing the course that will suit them.

In addition, students will be encouraged to participate in the arts, athletics and service-related activities within the school and the wider global community to supplement their academic program.


Physical Education at GEMS United School

Our comprehensive Physical Education program emphasizes both physical and social development. Physical Education is a continuous process to motivate each student to make wise choices. Through this program, students will demonstrate an understanding of sportsmanship, cooperation, respect for and acceptance of one’s-self and others, self-discipline and confidence. Concepts of safety, knowledge of rules and game strategies, and the promotion of a lifelong physical fitness program are emphasized. GEMS United School provides a wide variety of physical experiences using diverse equipment and outstanding sports facilities.


If you would like to find out more about our program of learning, please call us on 04 818 3600. Or, if you would like to apply for admission to GEMS United School, Dubai Sports City, please click here.