ACS International School Doha appointed a highly accomplished Early Childhood teacher, Ester-Leigh Rawson, as Early Childhood Principal for 2021-22, based at its new state-of-the-art campus in Al Kheesa.

Ester-Leigh Rawson ACS Doha
ACS Doha Early Childhood Principal Ester-Leigh Rawson

Rawson has been with ACS Doha for almost a decade and brings with her 14 years of early-years teaching experience to the role. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in the United States, where she gained her university degree and teaching certification, Rawson believes her international background helps her identify with the culturally diverse community at ACS Doha.

Her passion for teaching the three- to six-year-old age group – for ‘making connections with young minds’ – has led her to develop strategies to protect the well-being of early learners and encourage them to take ownership of their own progress, not least in these remote home-learning times.

First and foremost, we establish a sense of belonging using regular routines, like inventing new ways to greet each other in a socially distanced way. Some of our Zoom sessions are integrated experiences – with a librarian, PE teacher and art teacher working together to stimulate mind, body and soul.

Rawson said that activities such as painting, music and movement are especially important at this age and should not be sacrificed in lockdown.

We find creative ways to use materials that the children already have at home – such as making their own paints from food colouring, flour and water. Students and parents can share the results of the work through an app that enables two-way communication between home and school. Home-based activities can also be prompted using Google Slides.

Back in the classroom, children enjoy a spacious, well-equipped creative environment with both practical and digital tools, even ‘book nooks’ for quiet reading and calm down spaces where frustrations can be released and emotional issues resolved. Rawson said that early-years teaching is all about helping children with self-expression and giving them the confidence to be who they are.

ACS’s wider approach to education is based on developing the whole child with focus on respect, care, teamwork and community awareness, not solely on academic success.

Beyond the Early Childhood years, ACS Doha offers the full range of International Baccalaureate programmes: the Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and the Diploma Programme (IBDP), in addition to the US High School Diploma. It is the only school in Qatar to offer both the Advanced Placement Programme (AP) and the International Baccalaureate Career-Related Programme (IBCP).

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