November 10, 2017: Learning, Respect, Integrity, Community, Choice, Balance



AISB Newsletter

Vol. 13.3 | November 10, 2017

In this issue: 


Our Writing

From the Director

Dear Parents, Students, Faculty and Staff,
The second quarter is now underway, and much has already taken place in a short time.

Halloween Carnival
One highlight so far was the annual PTO Halloween Carnival, which many noticed was even bigger and more gleeful than last year’s event. Thanks to our PTO and volunteers, for a wonderful Halloween bash. The next PTO event will be the International Fair in January and there are also plans afoot to throw a 40 year AISB anniversary celebration in the spring.

AISB Board News
Thanks to those of you who came out to the AISB Board general meeting on the financial state of the school on October 25th. In addition to the general meeting of all AISB association members, the Board also held its regular monthly meeting.

Two important decisions were taken at that meeting - one on Board communication strategies and the other on the AISB Mission Statement.

The Board approved a new communication plan, which includes the addition of current Board-related news and information on the school web page. Keep an eye out on this page for information about the composition and role of the AISB Board of Trustees, as well as regular updates about Board meetings and decisions.

A revised AISB Mission Statement:  As part of the accreditation self-study process the Accreditation Planning Team reviewed the “fit” of the school’s Mission statement. The Mission was reviewed comprehensively in April 2016, during the school’s strategic planning process; the APT felt that the initial review process was very inclusive,and that the mission represents the aspirations of the school community very well.  The APT did however feel that the wording of the statement was not as accessible or as powerful as it could be, and therefore made some recommendations to the AISB Board of Trustees, to improve the clarity and power of the Mission. At its October meeting, the AISB Board of Trustees voted to accept the suggested revisions, and amend the wording of the school’s Mission statement. The new version is below; the words in bold are those that have been added to the original text.

The American International School of Bamako engages students in an international, English-medium educational program based upon American standards, that encourages critical thinking and inquiry together with academic, social and personal growth. AISB welcomes students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and ensures that all students experience an innovative and supportive international learning environment, and are empowered to meet successfully the diverse challenges of an ever-changing world.


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New School Security Cameras
You may have noticed the security cameras that have recently been installed in the school hallways. You may be interested in knowing that :

  • This project was recommended and funded by the Regional Security Office (RSO) of the US Embassy as part of the same security grant that funded the new lockdown alarm system, the parking lot security wall and the hardened retreat rooms.
  • The primary purpose of the cameras is to allow the RSO to have "eyes inside the building" in the event of a security situation. The cameras are not being monitored actively; no one will be 'watching' unless it is deemed necessary for security reasons. This is not a system to monitor students or staff.
  • The one exception to the previous point would be if there was a serious event on campus such as an assault or theft. The feed from the cameras is recorded and saved for a few weeks. If the feed was deemed helpful in protecting people on campus, we would look at it.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind over the next month:

  • Wednesday, November 22nd: Monthly meeting of the AISB Board of Trustees at which, among other things, the recent fall MAP testing results will be presented and discussed.
  • Friday, December 1st and Friday, December 8th are national holidays and there will be no school on those days.
  • Our annual Winter Show will take place on Wednesday, December 13th from 1:30-2:45pm in the MPR. There will be performances by students of all ages, including our students in music classes from Grades 2 through 7. Please join us.

See you at school,


MakerSpace Update: Looking for Donations

Any adult walking into the MakerSpace during supervised free-play time could quite understandably think that students were rioting. Another look, however, would reveal that the noise was actually that of students excitedly exchanging ideas, asking questions, looking for materials and getting on with the fun of bringing their ideas to life with little more than old cardboard boxes, cutting implements, hot glue guns and tape.

This noisy, energy-filled space is an exciting example of the philosophy of the MakerSpace - a place where students can come, have access to a range of tools and materials, and have the space to get “messy” while experimenting with ways to solve problems or express their creativity. In recent weeks, we’ve seen rockets, aircraft, houses, musical instruments and bird houses be constructed, all with minimal to no adult input into their design and construction.

The free-play sessions have, so far, been immensely popular. When it’s time to start cleaning up, it’s common to hear wails of “Noooo...Already?” makerspace

It’s important for us to keep the enthusiasm for this space high, and continue to have students keen to return week after week. To provide a regular supply of a variety of resources, we appreciate help with collecting and storing any of the following items:

  • Plastic bottles and caps, juice and milk boxes
  • Takeaway containers, plastic containers (no glass, please)
  • Soda bottle caps
  • Large cardboard boxes
  • Cans
  • Fabric scraps
  • Lumber and plyboard
  • Nails, screws, nuts and bolts

Here’s some links to other ideas for projects:

Marcus Tanner is coordinating activities in the MakerSpace, and your contributions of materials, ideas, and support for working on projects can be organized with him (


Accreditation Update

Progress continues with AISB’s re-Accreditation process. The Standards Committees have completed or nearly completed the initial phase of their work; we expect that the Profile of the School and the Profile of Organizational Capacity will be submitted to the Accreditation Planning Team November 14, on schedule.

Completing a job of this scope and scale on time might actually be some kind of miracle; and it is also surely a testament to many hours of hard work, and to the exceptional commitment of the many dedicated community members who have stepped forth to serve the school. Faculty members have invested hundreds of hours in this process already; their willingness to engage in this demanding process, challenging all aspects of our work, is evidence of their strong commitment to AISB’s students. We appreciate you!! We also thank sincerely the many parent, student and staff volunteers who have participated in this valuable process, including those students and parents on the Committees, students who participated in focus groups, and the many parents, students and staff who completed MSA’s Standards Survey for AISB. The information and insight our community has provided is valuable, and has been put to good use by all 9 committees in evaluating the school’s performance and setting Objectives for the years to come.

AISB Accreditation Needs You!
We encourage parents and students to get involved! If you’re not already part of the process, don’t be shy -- there’s a role for everyone. Contact Kelly Owens, Marcus Tanner, Véronique Mayer or Renée Comesotti.  We’ll be glad to hear from you


College Counseling Corner

On Wednesday November 8th, five of our students participated in an online skype interview with Lynn College. The students were able to ask questions and get feedback from the admissions advisor to help them in their college decision making process. On Monday November 13th, students will be able to sit down and have a virtual tour of Ryerson University from 3:30pm until 4:30pm, led by one of their admissions advisors. This is a great opportunity for any high school student who is thinking about attending University in Canada. I invite everyone interested to join us!

We are entering the busiest months of the year when it comes to College Counseling. In addition to the demanding load of classes your 12th grade student is taking, he or she must add the following tasks to the list of tasks that must be done:

  • Draft, revise, revise, and revise his or her personal statement.
  • Solidify his or her college list with safety, range, reach schools.
  • Communicate with teachers that he or she will ask for a letter of recommendation.

It can all seem overwhelming, but with counsel and time management, it is totally doable. Please speak with your son or daughter about these tasks and encourage them to consider attending the College Counseling Workshop for 12th graders as an After School Activity on Mondays.


20th Century History’s Artist in Residence

The 20th Century History class is excited to have Lassine “King” Coulibaly as an artist in residence to work with their teacher Kelly Owens in helping students improve their photography skills. King is a renowned rapper, actor, and photographer, and the only Malian artist whose work will be displayed during the Bamako Encounters exhibit. This year’s theme is Afrotopia.

King has already come in twice to share photography suggestions with the students. The students have been tasked with creating a photo essay about life in Bamako. Their audience are people that have not been to Bamako, and their goal is to give insight into the life of the average Malian.

This project is based on the work of 20th century American photographer Dorothea Lange.


Notice: Bagami school store hours

We have been informed by Bagami that their on-campus store will be closed on Fridays and every afternoon until our return to classes in January.



Picture1If your child is absent from school due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, please call the school (2022 4738) or e-mail Oumou Drame ( by 7:30 am, to notify us.

If you know in advance that your child will be away from school, please inform Brad Waugh (



After School Learning Support

What is it? The After School Learning Support Program is a learning environment with flexible levels of support for all students. It is a great opportunity for students to receive help with homework, review concepts taught in class, collaborate with peers or complete overdue assignments.

Where does it take place? Students and volunteer teachers meet in the library.

When is it offered? After school help is available Monday-Wednesday-Thursday from 2:45-3:50. Students can attend as many or as few days per week as suits their individual schedules. They can choose to attend weekly or drop-in as needed.

Who should attend? All students in grades 1- 12 are invited to attend after school learning support. Occasionally, a teacher may suggest a student attend after school support to benefit from extra instruction in a particular subject or with a specific concept. In addition, students may be required to attend if they are behind in their classwork or are in danger of failing a course.

How do students sign up? Sign up online is available for regular, weekly attendance until Nov. 10. Otherwise, students can also just come to the library after school and sign in per day.



AISB 11th Grade Internship Week : We Need You!

Each year, as part of their regular program of studies, AISB students in the 11th grade undertake a community internship placement of their own choice. The internship program allows students to observe professionals in their working environment, to investigate their obligations and potential as workers, to learn about workplace safety, and to gain valuable practical training and experience.
At this time, students are exploring appropriate placement options. So we need your help. If your organization is able to sponsor a student for this internship program, please contact Abdel Hacko Yattara at

This program would not be possible without our community partners, and we thank you sincerely.

You can read a brief description of the program and some student responses from previous year’s internships here.


Performance Art at AISB

Figures covered in black cloth. Students wearing masks. Bodies circling in silence. No, I’m not describing recent Halloween festivities. This was a performance art piece presented by middle school students. Their work, designed to be a statement about insecurity and terrorism affecting contemporary culture, was presented in the high school lounge area during a lunch break. Group members set up a circle of chairs, cued intense music, donned their black costumes or paper masks and began their silent march in protest of the state of the world- one in which people are no longer free to enjoy simple pleasures like going to the park or having an evening meal out without worrying about an act of terrorism. Their performance piece intended to express their frustration with needing to be constantly alert and always having eyes open- as evidenced by the masks they created covered with a multitude of open eyes.

These masks were on display at a nearby table and onlookers were invited to grab a mask and join the circle of silent protest. Student responses ranged from curious glances to inquiry, engagement and, in some cases, a little bit of healthy peer pressure to join in.

It’s all part of the 8th grade Performing Arts class in middle school. Not quite theater but definitely dramatic, students are introduced to the main elements of performance art: using interactive design to engage the audience in a live performance that is often multidisciplinary, but uses the artist’s body as the main medium.

Performance art is often also conceptual art. Students spent the first quarter exploring an issue that affected them personally. They worked in groups to develop their artistic responses to themes such as security, the impact of technology on our ability to be patient, and table manners. During the rest of the semester students will continue to explore and develop their personal statements regarding topics of their choice in the realms of social and global issues.

In order to prepare their pieces, students are exposed to works by prominent artists who are using performance to raise public awareness and create social or political change. They view and analyze works by Vik Muniz of Brazil, JR from France, Julie Djikey from Congo, Honey and Bunny from Austria and Marina Abromovic from Yugoslavia, among others. They also have a chance to develop the 12 elements of drama: focus, tension, timing, rhythm, contrast, mood, space, sound, language, symbol, conflict, and climax.

Beyond just performing, students are developing an awareness of what is important to them and exploring levels of civic and artistic engagement in their communities. While students haven’t yet chosen to stage one of their performance pieces off campus, there is always the chance that next time you’re walking down the grocery aisle, a few of the random shoppers just might surprise you with an impromptu piece outlining their opinion of the refugee crisis or the impending water wars.

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Standards Based Reporting at AISB: Student feedback

Our students and parents in grades 6 and 7 have received their first standards based report cards, and in the days immediately after parent-teacher conferences, we asked students how the whole standards-based approach was working for them. Responses were notably positive!

Many students have reported in the past that understanding the standards helps them to know when they are doing well, and where they need to focus their efforts to learn better. This time, students are seeing the effects elsewhere, as well. One particularly enthusiastic student reported that "It was GREAT! Instead of my parents getting mad at me for not having straight "A"s we had a good talk about where my strengths were and what areas I need to keep working on." Another student added, "Now my mom understands where I need help. So, I will go for math help once a week and my mom said that she can sit down with me during the week and see how I'm doing in the areas where I need to improve".

Especially encouraging for teachers were those students who don’t feel that they’re not getting enough information yet. One student, for example, reported that "I like the idea...but I need more standards. Basically, I need more information about my learning". This is the kind of complaint we like to hear: here we have a student who realizes that the better he understands his learning, the better he will learn. This kind of metacognition is what standards-based approaches are all about.



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