December 6, 2016: Happy Holidays



AISB Newsletter

Vol. 12.4 | December 6, 2016

In this issue: 

 cactus 1706738 640

From the Director: Happy Holidays!

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Staff,

The winter break is fast approaching and we are all looking forward to having some time to rest, relax and celebrate with family. The year has already been busy and productive and we can expect more of the same in the weeks and months ahead. Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • Our annual Winter Show will take place on Friday, December 9th at 1:30pm in the MPR. There will be performances by students of all ages. Please join us. The Show will be followed by a bake sale to raise funds for a family in need.
  • Monday, December 12th is the Maouloud Holiday and there will be no school that day.
  • The last day of classes before the Winter Break - and the final day for this round of After School Activities - is Friday, December 16th. School will resume on Wednesday, January 4th. We fully expect to have two swimmable swimming pools by then!
  • The Franco-African Summit will take place in Bamako on January 13-14. The school has been consulting with the Regional Security Officer of the US Embassy about possible disruptions to traffic in the city during the Summit. We will let parents know about any effect this will have on the school in the new year.
  • The second quarter (and first semester) ends January 20th, and high school students will be sitting semester exams and submitting term projects after the holiday. Exams run from January 17-20, and you can see the schedule here.
  • The PTO-AISB International Fair is scheduled for January 28th. If you are heading home for the break don’t forget to pick up food and clothes that you will need for the Fair!
  • Looking far ahead to the start of the 2017-18 school year, the first day of classes is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, August 15th. The calendar will be finalized at the January meeting of the AISB Board of Trustees to confirm this date.

We wish you a happy and restful holiday.

See you at school,



AISB Strategic Planning - Growing together as a school community

Dear Parents,

Last spring, the AISB Board of Trustees began an extensive strategic planning process that engaged all

AISB community stakeholders in shaping a vision for the future of the school for the next five years. In

March, volunteer students and parents, teachers and staff gathered to set the groundwork for the process at

an all day retreat. As a result of that retreat the school now has Vision, Mission, and Values and Beliefs

statements that reflect our community and its aspirations. Also discussed at the retreat were the strengths,

weaknesses, opportunities and threats to success (SWOTs) currently faced by the school.

Next steps

Over the next four months the AISB Board will host a series of sessions on the six strategic themes touched

on by stakeholders during the March SWOT discussion:

  • Facilities and Security
  • Community Involvement and External Relations
  • AISB Community, Student Services and Extra-Curricular Activities
  • Curriculum and Staff
  • Financial Stability
  • Governance, Organization and Management

The sessions are designed to get stakeholder input and to draft objectives to move the school forward in a

particular theme area.

Interested in taking part?

We are looking for volunteers to join us for an evening (or in one case a full-day) session focusing on one

of the six strategic themes above. Expect discussion and philosophy, collegial debate and good company,

with food and drink provided by the school. The next sessions will run on the evenings of November 8th

and November 29th.

If you would like to participate in this important work, please send an email to the director






Seeking AISB Ambassadors

As second semester approaches AISB is preparing to welcome new families to our community.  We are always glad to see new faces, and we are proud of the community warmth and diversity that help make AISB a terrific school. Please join us in welcoming our newest additions to the school when you see them.

AISB is also pleased to reach out to the wider community to potential families and students. You, our parents and students, are the best ambassadors for the school. By sharing your experience with new potential families you help our community grow, and you help families find the right school for their children. 

If you know of anyone interested in joining AISB, please feel free to point them in our direction. Here are some ways you can do that:

Our Registrar
Our registrar, Wilma Blom-Ensing, is happy to assist new families by answering questions about the school and the admissions process - in Dutch, French or English! Interested families can contact Wilma by email ( or phone (2022-4738).

The School Website
We have been working hard recently to brighten up the school's website with new images and text. Families can find out about the admissions process, the school's academic program, and much more, by going to

The School Brochure
Our lovely new AISB brochure is another way to share information about the school.  If you would like copies of the brochure for your workplace or community hang-out, please do be in touch.  We'd be happy to provide you with some.




Welcome to the new AISB Aquatics Center!

We inaugurated the pools on January 30th - a few months behind schedule - and students have begun diving in as part of their swim classes.  We also hope to use the pool for after school activities and other events in the near future.  Pictured is the Grade 7/8 PE class, which was the first class to use the pool after the inauguration!




Hats Required!

Dear Families,

Our supply of spare hats is rapidly diminishing!

Please remember to send your child to school with a hat and water bottle.



Halloween Carnival appreciations

Dear parents,

It was great seeing so many of you out at the Halloween Carnival!

A special thanks and congratulations to our PTO members for organizing such a successful event and also to the US Marines, for their Haunted House, our student, parent and teacher volunteers, for all their hard work, Mr. Baba Coulibaly and the guards for keeping us secure and Mr. Adama Sidibe and his team for their work setting things up and keeping them clean.

The next PTO event will be the International Fair on January!





AP Human Geography Visits ICRISAT

by Chade van de Fliert

The AP Human Geography class has been learning about Agriculture around the world. They have also learned about genetically modified crops (GMCs). In order to further our research on Agriculture in Africa, particularly in West Africa, we decided as a class that we would take an informative field trip to ICRISAT. The AP Human Geography class along with Ms.Owens took a field trip to ICRISAT on Thursday, November 17th. Thanks to Dr. Nzungize and his colleagues, the AP Human Geography class had the opportunity to increase our knowledge on Agriculture in Africa. We learned the following topics during Dr. Nzungize’s informative presentation:

  • ICRISAT’s location
  • GMCs (pros and cons)
  • Subsistence farming
  • Commercial farming
  • Obesity and malnutrition in developing nations

Our visit to ICRISAT was a very instructive experience for the AP Human Geography class. It created an opportunity for them to listen to diverse professional opinions. This opened and varied our personal opinions on GMCs and agriculture in Mali. The AP Human Geography class took part in discussions with several members of the organization. In these discussions they spoke of the pros and cons of GMCs and how they could potentially either harm or improve Mali. They were strongly opinionated and enlightened people, which gave us the appreciation of how important agriculture is. Thanks to ICRISAT, the AP Human Geography class broadened their understanding of agriculture.

Here we are holding up some groundnuts.  ICRISAT is actively doing research to improve groundnut crop yields and to create a groundnut that may be more drought resistant.

Here we are holding up some groundnuts.  ICRISAT is actively doing research to improve groundnut crop yields and to create a groundnut that may be more drought resistant.

Read More


What AISB Teachers are up to….



AISA 2016 Educators Conference - Technology Integration for Teaching

by Marcus Tanner, Technology Coordinator

We generally acknowledge that the integration of technology into the curriculum is important, but the constant growth and change in the range of tools available can sometimes leave us, the teachers, scratching our heads as to what to include and ensuring we address the most important criteria: How is this making learning better?

My participation in the Technology Integration for Teachers was an excellent opportunity to work with like-minded teachers from other schools and explore models of technology integration practices and how they “fit” within both the SAMR model and the ISTE Standards for Teachers. The facilitator of these sessions, Ryan Harwood (from Lincoln Community School, Accra) did an excellent job of getting us to think about the digital tools we currently use and how they support student learning; in addition, some excellent examples provided in use at his own school, well as others throughout Africa, were presented. Lots of time was made available to try out some the new digital tools that Ryan demonstrated, and some of these, like Padlet and Internet Archive have been shared with teachers at AISB.

In the two days prior to the start of AEC 2016, I was invited to work with other AISA school Technology Coordinators on a proposal for supporting blended learning programs. Blended learning refers to when teachers use a range of tools, including digital tools, to provide opportunities for student control the when, where and how of their learning; a learning environment such as this is designed to personalize learning and improve student engagement. At AISB, we already have features of blended learning in place, such as our online course offerings and use of Google Classroom.

My trip to the AEC 2016 in Johannesburg was worthwhile, and it was great to have the chance to meet and work and share with other teachers.


Reflecting on the AISA 2016 Educators Conference

by Lysha Lansing Wasser

When I go to really good professional development, I leave with more questions than answers. I realize not the amount that I know, but become aware of the amount that I don’t know.

Attending Ian Warwick’s “Easy is Boring, Impossible is Depressing,” I came away with a key question that I haven’t been able to stop asking myself. Am I allowing my students to struggle enough in class?

Upon returning to AISB I shared this question with my colleagues during our collaborative professional development time and our conversation was quite fruitful. As educators, we agreed that we got into the field because we want to help students learn. However, sometimes the right intention can produce not the result we want. We all want to help students learn, but if we act as “help on tap,” like turning a water faucet on and off, we can produce dependency instead of independence. This is a result that we do not want and therefore, we need to be constantly asking ourselves whether the help we are providing is really needed or simply creating dependance.

We all agreed it is a hard tightrope to walk, especially considering the amount of split second decisions we need to make in the classroom on any given day. Nevertheless, we concluded the question remains paramount and if we keep it as our north star, we will be more likely to create independent thinkers who are problem solvers, as opposed to highly capable students who have learned to become dependent because it is the easy way out.

 Lysha Wasser and Ian Warick

Lysha Wasser and Ian Warwick


AISA Professional Development

by Laura Forgie

At the AISA conference in Johannesburg, I was fortunate to attend sessions on Mindfulness and Habits of Mind (or Thinking Dispositions). While they were both quite fascinating, I found that the Mindfulness sessions were more immediately relevant to me and my teaching. The Habits of Mind are a bit more complex and I am still reviewing and reflecting on my notes. I will write about them at a later date!

Mindfulness is a way to take a step back from a situation, consider it thoughtfully, and choose a response. So often something happens and we simply react unconsciously. This is often not the best course of action for ourselves or for others involved.  The main way to create some thoughtful space between a stimulus and a reaction is to take a few deep breaths and focus on the here and now for a moment. Three or four slow deep breaths in and out reduces stress and elicits a feeling of calm. In this more peaceful state, we can notice how we feel about the situation and choose the best way to handle it.

Mindfulness can also be used to calm the frenetic energy that our students sometimes have, particularly after break or lunch. It helps them relax and focus and be more prepared to engage in the next lesson or classroom activity.  Finding a few moments of stillness in our busy days can go a long way to making those days better.

“The Mindfulness Workshop was a great reminder that one should strive to be more mindful and aware of the present moment. Not easy for teachers, since we are constantly multi-tasking!  

Laura beautifully shared useful information and strategies about how the brain works, as well as the best breathing exercises to use. Her demonstrations were very calming and I believe they would work well in the classroom.

"This workshop also supported 'Caring Month', in that it increases one's self-awareness, as well as an awareness of the immediate environment, all while being in a calm…state.” - Ms Janet Stewart

“The mindfulness exercise creates an entirely new experience; it enables me to connect the mind and the body. It wipes out the negative thoughts and feelings from my mind and I become fully conscious of the things and people in my surrounding and environment.

'I am definitely convinced that when practiced in classroom it enhances students learning because they will be more focused on the lesson.” - Mr. Souleymane Kone



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