August 29, 2016: Welcome to a new year at AISB



AISB Newsletter

Vol. 12.1 | August 29, 2016

In this issue: 


From the Director: Welcome to a new year at AISB

The scene at the gate on the first day of school was reminiscent of the opening of Disney’s The Lion King, in which scores of happy, excited animals stream across the savannah at the dawn of a new day to welcome a newcomer to the swelling of Elton John’s “The Circle of Life.”  Perhaps this is as it should be since we ended last year in the MPR singing along to that other Lion King favorite, “Wimoweh,” as we bid farewell to students and staff moving on to new adventures.

So, in the spirit of “The Circle of Life” we begin this year by welcoming 43 new students and 23 new families to our school. AISB is also pleased to welcome a number of new faculty and staff member, who you can find out more about below.  


There are a number of important announcements and invitations in this month's newsletter. I'd like to mention one in particular:  our hardworking PTO will host its annual Back to School Barbecue next Saturday, September 3rd, from 1pm to 3pm, and we hope to see you there!  Please contact Mrs. Oumou Dramé as soon as possible, to indicate how many of your family and guests will attend. The PTO is also requesting volunteers to help with selling tickets, serving food, and so on, on that day; please see their invitation, below, for more information. 

We are fortunate to have such a committed Parent Teacher Organization; its members are instrumental in helping to build the warm, supportive community for which AISB is known.  

I am extremely happy to welcome you all to the 2016-17 school year at AISB. The staff and kids are glad to be back, and we're looking forward to a great year.

See you at school,  

Brad Waugh



Calendar of Important Upcoming Events

Monday, August 29 Quarter 1 After School Activities (ASAs) begin
Thursday, September 1

07:30 Elementary Assembly with Grades 4/5

07:30: Pre-K Back to School Open House

19:00: Kinder – Grade 12 Back to School Open House

Saturday, September 3 PTO Welcome Back to School BBQ at AISB
Sept. 8 - 9 High School trip to Kangaba, overnight
September 12 - 13 Tabaski holiday – no school
September 16-17 Middle School “Lock-in” overnight at school
Tuesday, September 20 AISB Board Meeting
Thursday, September 22 Malian Independence Day – no school
Sept. 27 - Oct 27 MAP testing
Monday, October 3 Teacher in-service day - no school





You’re Invited! Elementary Assemblies

All parents of Elementary students are cordially invited to attend our Elementary Assemblies which take place every second Thursday in the Music Room.  The first assembly will be held Thursday, September 1st and is hosted by our Grade 4/5 class. We hope to see you there!

September 1 Grades 4 and 5
September 15 Grade 3
September 29 Grade 2
October 13 Grade 1
November 3 Kindergarten
November 17 PreK 4
December 1 PreK 2/3


Back to School Open House September 1

All Welcome

This year’s Back to School Open Houses will be held Thursday, September 1.  Parents and students are cordially invited to meet the faculty and staff, visit classrooms, and gather information about learning at AISB this year.

  • Pre-kindergarten Back to School Open House Morning runs from 7:30 to 8:10 in the Pre-K classrooms.
  • Kinder-Grade 12 Back to School Open House Night begins at 19:00hrs, concluding by 20:30hrs.

We look forward to seeing you all.


High School Trip to Kangaba

The annual High School trip to Kangaba will take place this year September 8 - 9.  Students in grades 9 to 12 will leave campus Thursday morning and spend the night at the Kangaba resort, returning to campus by early Friday afternoon.

During the trip students will participate in team-building and collaborative activities, sports and games that foster deeper connections and help them build understandings of one another outside the regular school context.

There is no cost to parents for the trip; students may bring pocket money for sodas, snacks or paid activities if they choose. A letter to parents with more information will go home on Wednesday, August 31st.


Middle School “Lock-In”

The Middle School “Lock-In” sleepover takes place September 16th, here at school, from 14:45 on Friday until 08:00 the following Saturday morning.  Middle School students will play cooperative games and sports, and a movie is planned as well.

Because the focus of this event is on teamwork and community-building, students are asked please to leave their computers in their lockers for the night.

Parents picking up their children on Saturday are asked please to arrive at school no later than 08:00 am. The chaperones will be eager to make their ways home!





New Faculty Bios

Amadou BaMy name is Amadou Ba, and I am from Mauritania, West Africa. I am 2m and 8 cm tall. I am a graduate student from the University of Michigan where I also played Basketball. I played professional Basketball in Qatar, Lebanon, and France.

I taught physical education at the International School of Dakar, in Senegal, and at the Modern English School in Cairo, Egypt.
I speak five languages which are: French, English, Arabic, Wolof, and Pulaar. I am excited to be in Bamako and I am really looking forward to be working with and learning from all of you.


Laliya Ba1Laliya Ba

Hi! I am Laliya and I am thrilled to be teaching PreK 4 and Elementary Art at AISB. I am also a happy mother of four beautiful children: Diana (13), Zeytoun (12), Ousmane will turn 3 in October, and last but not least Abdul-Nafi, who will be 7 months old next week. My husband, Amadou Ba (who is a PE teacher at AISB) and I are originally from Mauritania. Before relocating here in Bamako, my family and I lived in Senegal for five years and in Egypt too.

My passions are reading, writing and languages! When people ask me, "Where are you from?" I always say hmmm well, I am a third-culture adult! Since childhood, I have always been immersed in a multilingual environment. I am passionate about languages and I think two factors have determined and predestined me to become a teacher. Firstly, many languages were spoken at home. My parents whom are originally from different countries in West Africa both speak at least four languages. Secondly, as a child I grew up both in the suburbs of Paris and London where the cultural dimension was off-limits… I remember going to my African, Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan, Algerian, West-Indian… friends’ house, where their parents would only speak their native languages, even to me! It was so fun! Not only had I inherited from my cultures but also from theirs. So I guess, living in a pluralistic society has had a huge impact on me as it has emphasised my passion for languages. I can speak three languages and strongly hope that during my stay in Mali, I will be able to speak Bambara! I know I might seem very optimistic but I am competing against my husband who speaks five languages!


Wilma Ensing

My name is Wilma Ensing-Blom. Since August 1st, I have worked in the AISB office as the registrar. I am the mother of two boys, both in high school. Our family originally comes from the Netherlands. You might have seen me as a member of the PTO last year.
Before I came to Mali, I worked for the Dutch army, as a press and information officer. In that job I advised my boss on how to communicate both inside the army and outside. I inform the media about what the Army does in the Netherlands and why they do that. Officer is actually not the right word for me, since I don’t wear a uniform during my work: I am a civilian working for the Army.
Before that I worked in food related jobs. I am a trained dietician, and as such I worked in a hospital and in a factory where they make food for a lot of airlines.
I am glad to have the chance to see how a school really works. And I am happy to meet a lot of (new) parents along the way.


Yaritza Font Suarez1Yaritza Font Suárez

I graduated from the Superior Institute of Art (Cuba) in general music with a classical guitar profile, as a music specialist, classical guitarist, classical guitar and instrumental group training teacher. I have 20 years of experience in my profession, and have worked at several educational institutions, including Esteban Salas Professional Conservatory of Music (Cuba), José M. Heredia and Regino E. Boti Vocational Art Schools in Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, (Cuba). I have also worked with the Balla Fasseke Kouyaté Conservatory of Arts and Crafts Multimedia (Mali).

I am also an experienced Spanish teacher. I have developed my Spanish teaching skills in several educational institutions at different levels, including Connexion International Language center, Petit Genie School, Libia Lamoure School and LIberté College and High School, to mention a few.


Julie GibsonJulie Gibson is a California native.  She comes to AISB from the Monterey peninsula along California's beautiful central coast. She is thrilled to be joining AISB as a grade 1 teacher!  

Julie studied at California State University, Chico and later earned her Master's degree in Education from University of Southern California.  She has taught in California, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and most recently, Lebanon. She has experience teaching the US Common Core, British primary, and IB PYP curricula. Julie enjoys spending quality time with her friends and family, traveling and learning about cultures, history, art, and regional cuisine. During her free time, you'll likely find her exploring her surroundings, hiking in nature, cooking, eating, reading, listening to music, dancing, exercising, practicing yoga, or socializing.

Julie looks forward to meeting the AISB community and becoming an active member of our international family. 


Abdel Hacko YattaraMy name is Abdel HACKO YATTARA. I was born and raised in Mali until the age of sixteen. I then received a full scholarship to attend Lester B. Pearson United World College in Victoria, Canada. I continued my studies at Simon Fraser University where I completed my Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education.

As an experienced teacher and francophone who studied in English, I know what it is like to learn a second language, and I am very excited about returning to teach Elementary and Secondary French Standard at AISB.  My teaching assignments have included International Baccalaureate French B and Ab Initio, Middle School and High School French at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, K-12 French at the American International School of Bamako, Grade 7 French Immersion at McLeod Road Elementary in Surrey, Canada, and Grades 7, 9, 10 French Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver, Canada.

Over the years, I have been involved in various projects promoting cultural diversity, as well as economic and educational development. My interests include reading, participating in a variety of outdoor activities and traveling. I look forward to meeting all of you and collaborating with you during the 2016/2017 school year.


Don JohnsonDon Johnson

Don’s many global experiences make his third grade classroom engaging and cheerful. Don has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. He has also been an English Language Fellow in both Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. Mali will be his fourth West African post and AISB his second international school.

Don’s instructional goals are to continually spark an interest in learning more and to have fun in the process.


Aiza Mbaye2Aiza Mbaye is thrilled to be able to continue her teaching career in West Africa because West Africa has provided her with her most memorable traveling experiences thus far.  She has visited Benin, Togo, Ghana, Senegal, and Burkina Faso and is looking forward to learning about Mali and Ivory Coast.  She has been teaching math for twelve years, mostly in New York City.  However she started her professional career as a systems analyst and programmer.  

Last year she began teaching computer science and is excited about exposing AISB students to this essential discipline.



Roger Ntoya

My name is Roger Ntoya. I was born in Congo Kinshasa on August 22 1987. I am the first born in family and the only son of my parents. I have three younger sisters. Growing up, we had to move from one country to another because of my dad's job. I grew up in different countries, learnt so many cultures, met different people and spoke different languages. Today I am in Mali independently, trying to find a path of my own as any other young man of age would do.



Janet Stewart2Janet Stewart joins us as the new Grade 2 Teacher. She is a veteran international educator and looks forward to her new teaching position at AISB. Janet has taught at private schools in the U.S. and overseas.

She is well-versed in inquiry based- teaching methods, cooperative learning and implementation of instructional strategies. Her hobbies include traveling, cooking, reading, textiles and bicycling.



India Thomas1India Thomas

Not really a newbie to Mali at all, India Thomas has lived in Bamako since August 2015 with her 3 year old son Malik. India began working at the school in the second semester of the 2015-16 school year, and is excited to join our teaching staff this year in Kinder. India and Malik are originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. India’s pastimes in Bamako are walking with Malik along the Niger river at different points of entry, visiting the market to search for new fabric to be tailored, and hiking.

India completed her BA in Sociology at Hampton University in Virginia, U.S.A. while enjoying the Atlantic ocean. She completed her MSW for social work with an emphasis on children and youth at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


Rod WyrickRod Wyrick2

Rod arrived in Mali in October 2015 with his fiancée, Tonya.  Rod is originally from Oklahoma, USA. After earning his B.Sc. from the University of Oklahoma, Rod completed his Education Specialist Credential at San Francisco State University.  Rod then went on to earn a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College.  

Rod has been in education for over 15 years and has served as a Learning Support Teacher, Academic Learning Coach, Curriculum/Professional Development Coordinator, Special Education Program Coordinator, and a classroom teacher.  Internationally, Rod has taught in Japan, Malawi, Zanzibar, Haiti and Mali.  In his free time, he enjoys music and plays the guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica. Rod also enjoys traveling, fishing, running, and baseball.



Online Learning Tools at AISB

At AISB, we have a number of online tools to help share details about your student’s learning.

Focus: This is our student information management system. Focus has details about each student such as contact details, attendance and grades.

As a parent, you are able to access this system as well. There is one username per family, which will provide access to all the children in your family enrolled at AISB.

For students in Elementary school, you will be able to access the system to check personal details and attendance records. If you have students in Middle School or High School, the information accessible to you also includes their gradebook, and the last report card that was published.

At the time of writing Focus is undergoing an update and is temporarily unavailable to parents and students. We will inform parents and students when this function of Focus is back online.

Google Classroom Intended for secondary school classes, this is a platform for delivering content and resources, encouraging discussion and sharing assessment tasks.

This makes it possible for students to easily check back and review work already covered, submit work, and receive important notices from their teachers.

Class Blogs: These blogs are prepared by each of the teachers in the Elementary School.

These typically contain a summary of the week’s learning, successes and celebrations, as well as details of upcoming topics and events. Suggestions for supporting your student’s learning at home are occasionally also provided.


At the Parent Night on Thursday, 1st September, I will be available to speak with parents about these online services, as well as other information technology related matters (like BYOD and purchasing Microsoft Office). There will also be a session commencing at 8pm in the Technology Lounge to provide parents of Secondary School with information about Focus, and how to access information about your student’s details, attendance and grades.



College Counseling Corner

Welcome back friends! Here are a couple of very important dates to remember regarding standardized testing, which is an important element of the College Counseling Process.

12th grade parents: September 1st is the deadline to register for the October 1st SAT which will occur here at AISB. In addition, October 7th is the deadline to register for the November 5th SAT, which will also occur at AISB. If you have not scheduled an appointment with me to discuss where your son or daughter will apply next year, please do so right away.

10th and 11th grade parents: Your student will take the PSAT here at AISB on October 19th during the regular school day. This is an excellent opportunity for your student and if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to communicate with me. Most importantly, this is not something that your child should be studying for. It is a practice opportunity provided by AISB to give your student an idea of what type of score they can expect when taking the actual SAT later in the Spring.


Lysha Lansing Wasser
Admin/College Counselor/Teacher




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