It’s busy here at AISB as we begin a new semester-- we hit the ground running. Everyone is still talking about this year’s smashing PTO International Fair, which was a great success. Exams and report cards have come and gone. We were delighted by Monday’s opening of our beautiful pools; you’ll find a brief overview of the Aquatics Program and pool usage policies below. Our stalwart boys’ basketball team is in Ouagadougou, attending the WAISAL tournament, and we’re sending them our best wishes. Next year’s calendar is now available on the school website. We enjoyed the Elementary Music concert this very afternoon; and tomorrow will see the next important step in our Board’s Strategic Planning process, with the workshop on curriculum. You’ll find information about this very important process here.
In this week’s newsletter you’ll also find an overview of the school’s very important Child Protection Program and Policy. It is important that everyone in the community be aware of these, and their essential role in keeping AISB children safe. Please do take the time to read them.
See you at school,
Keeping Kids Safe: Child Protection at AISB
Keeping children safe is every school’s first responsibility. This responsibility begins with providing a safe environment for learning at school and extends to protecting children from harm at home and in the world beyond.
To this end, AISB has policies and practices that support us in maintaining a culture of Child Protection. Our approach is based in the powerful framework developed by the Association of International Schools in Africa. The AISA approach embraces three broad strategies:
Build and maintain a school culture of protection, through
Teaching child empowerment, respect and humane regard
Educating and empowering students to protect themselves from harm
Hiring and screening staff appropriately
Ensuring staff understand and comply with policy and procedures related to Child Protection
Build Child Protection into school policy (see AISB’s Child Protection Policy statement, below)
Establish effective procedures for handling, reporting and responding to signs and disclosures of possible abuse.
AISB faculty engage in regular trainings, workshops and formal discussion on Child Protection and its implications for the classrooms and culture of the school. AISA’s Child Protection Curriculum is designed to teach students how to protect themselves from harm, and is is implemented in an expanded form in AISB’s Child Protection Curriculum, at all levels.
In addition to the planned learning experiences, we help students learn to protect themselves through teaching the importance of self-worth, safety awareness, efficacy and empowerment, in children’s everyday experiences of the classroom, through school routines and norms, and in their relationships with adults at school.
The AISB Board of Trustees has formalized the school’s measures for child protection in the policies that govern the school. Parents should be aware of AISB’s Child Protection Policy and its implications.
AISB Child Protection Policy Child abuse and neglect are violations of a child’s basic human rights and as such present obstacles to the child’s education as well as to their physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Schools fill an institutional role in society as protectors of children.
Educators, having the opportunity to observe and interact with children over time, are in a unique position to identify children who are in need of help and protection. As such, educators have a professional and ethical obligation to identify child abuse and neglect and to take steps to ensure that the child and family avail themselves of the services needed to remedy the situation.
All staff employed at the American International School of Bamako must report to the Director all suspected incidences of child abuse or neglect whenever the staff member has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered, or is at significant risk of suffering, abuse or neglect. Reporting and follow up of all suspected incidences of child abuse or neglect will proceed in accordance with the procedures outlined in the AISB Counseling Crises Manual. Furthermore, cases of suspected child abuse or neglect may be reported to the appropriate employer, to the respective embassy in Bamako, to the appropriate child protection agency in the home country, and/or to local authorities.
This policy will be distributed to all staff annually and be included in the application packets to families. Training, guided by the contents of the Counseling Crises Manual, will be provided on an annual basis to ensure the AISB staff is informed and educated about child protection issues, indicators of abuse or neglect, and how to respond to disclosure of abuse or neglect. Every effort will be made to implement hiring practices to insure the safety of children. In the case of a staff member reported as an alleged offender, the Director will conduct a full investigation, keeping the safety of the child as the highest priority. (Approved: May 2014)
Based on Child Protection Policies from Lincoln Community School, Accra, Ghana and the American School of Bombay, Mumbai, India.
This past Saturday the AISB community gathered for its annual International Fair, organized through the heroic efforts of our beloved PTO. It was a wonderful evening of friendship and great food, and we thank the PTO for their work on behalf of our community. Thanks, PTO!!!
AISB Aquatics Program
Monday’s joyful inauguration of the school’s Aquatics Center signaled the start of our AISB Aquatics Program. The program will open a path for all our students to be safe around water and to add yet another way to maintain their fitness for life.
Students have already begun using the pool during their PE classes with Mr. Ba and will continue to do so throughout the year. In the near future we will add other activities such as swim classes, aquafit, a competitive swim team and -- yes-- underwater robotics to our after school activities program. You’ll hear more about these as we develop the program.
The Aquatics Center is an important addition to our facility and our community, and we are determined to see it put to best (and frequent!) use. Our first priority, as always, is student safety and student learning, and in general student use comes before all others. Other uses for the pools will open up gradually, as we work out how to add them safely and sustainably.
An overview of the Pool Usage priorities is below.
Pool Usage Priorities The primary function of the aquatic facility is for students and teachers use towards supporting the educational program at AISB. It is for this reason that the priority for use of the pool will be as follows:
Student use for physical education curricular activities (PE classes)
Student use for curricular activities not related to physical education (ie learning buoyancy in science class); student use for activities that are non-curricular (ie, after-school activities)
Student use for non-athletic and non-curricular activities that are school related (ie Middle School team-building pool party)
Staff use use for the purpose of gaining and/or maintaining adequate aquatics skills for teaching and/or supervising pool events
School community, members with the director’s approval.
Welcome Mr. Francis Creppy and Ms. Tenin Coulibaly
We are thrilled to welcome AISB’s newest community members, our lifeguards Mr. Francis Creppy and Ms. Tenin Coulibaly.
Welcome Ms. Brenna Wongue
Brenna is excited to join the AISB family as the PreK 2 teacher. She has just arrived in Bamako after having spent the last year in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with her two young girls where she started teaching at the International School of Ouagadougou.
Prior to Burkina, she and her family lived in Burundi for nearly six years where Brenna worked on child protection, early childhood development, and education programs with a humanitarian organization.
February is a busy time for College Counseling at AISB. If you are a parent of an 11th grader, please encourage them to spend Wednesday afternoons with Mr. Lysha for the Junior College Counseling Workshop. During this workshop we will focus on many elements of the college admission process such as generating a college list, working on the application essay, linking PSAT results to Khan Academy, and creating a timeline for all important dates moving forward.
In addition, next Friday, we will have a representative from the Canadian Embassy in Bamako explaining the process for acquiring a student visa for Canada at 1:45pm in Mr. Lysha's room.
Friday, the 17th, the same representative will be providing a general presentation for 10th and 11th graders interested in studying in Canada at 1:45pm in Mr. Lysha's room.
It is always a pleasure to work with students and parents. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lysha Lansing Wasser Admin/College Counselor/Teacher
African History Class visits Franco-African Summit Murals
On Wednesday, January 25 the 9th grade African History class visited the new murals inspired by the Franco-African Summit outside the Libyan Hotel. Seeing these murals reaffirmed many of the ideas and concepts that we have been exposed to throughout the year. The students will spend the next few weeks reexamining these murals throughout our study of imperialism and colonialism.
If you have not already seen the murals --here are our three “favorites”.
Elementary Cooperative Games
The elementary students celebrated "Cooperation" month by making class murals about world cooperation and participating in an hour of cooperative games. Mixed teams of all ages worked together to complete tasks like passing a hula hoop through a human circle and moving a marble across the field.
The AP Human Geography class visited Mam Cocktail on Thursday, January 26, 2017. The AP Human Geography class has recently been studying industry and the location of factories. We visited the director and founder of Mam Cocktail, Mrs.Diallo, an inspiring hard working women.
Mrs. Diallo founded Mam Cocktail in 1996 with five other women in ACI 2000. Now, Mam Cocktail has a large factory in Niamana and employs 53 people. Her organization is not only concerned with food production. It is also an organization that works to improve the situation of Malian women. Mrs. Diallo is an exceptional and influential woman!
When we visited, we had the opportunity to observe and even try some of the work ourselves. This gave us the opportunity to experience what its like to work in a factory. We learned how to make deguè. We sat in a circle and worked as a team with some of the women that work at Mam Cocktail to produce deguè. Later on, we applied the juice boxes to the machines in order to produce bissap juice. After that, we worked on making delicious yogurt along with the employees.
The employees of Mam cocktail were very welcoming and kind. They helped us and taught us a lot in the time we spent there. We were able to make references to how Mam Cocktail is a bulk gaining industry. This trip gave up first hand experience on industry in Mali and allowed us to understand what its like to work in a factory. It was an educational and fun experience that the AP Human Geography class would love to do again.
For my internship, I chose to spend the week at a center for children created by an association called Sinjiya-ton Mali. Their goal is to reinsert homeless kids, or even kids that came from unstable environments into our society. This association makes sure the kids have enough clothes, receive a proper education or vocational trainings in order to secure their futures.
This organisation is extremely important for those street kids abandoned by everyone else, including their own families. Sinjiya-ton Mali gives children a second chance in life, they allow them to live a normal and safe, childhood: something they have never experienced or had lost in the streets. They also retrace some of the children’s families and work to re-establish contact with them.
My week with them was eye-opening. I realized how lucky I was to be born to parents who were able to take care of me properly and to receive a good education. I had the chance to talk to some of the kids at the center, and I was reminded that life is extremely hard when you are young and homeless. Kids in the streets are completely isolated and have to fight everyday in order to survive. A lot of young girls even have to turn to prostitution to eat.
Working at the center was a challenge, mainly because of the language barrier. Everyone there spoke Bambara… I do not understand nor speak Bambara at all. Getting my points across while teaching and communicating with them was definitely a challenge. Also, I am in no way an experienced teacher. I have only worked with a few kids at AISB. Those kids at the center are completely different. They are kids that didn’t receive a good education until now, they barely read and write and are not used to stay in a classroom and listen to a teacher.
Distractions were everywhere and getting them to pay attention was a real challenge. However, I wouldn’t change a thing. This internship allowed me to practice adapting to different types of people. With the kids I spent time with last week, I found many techniques to make them participate and I am pretty sure we all enjoyed our time with each other. I am grateful I got the chance to spend time with those people. I met so many wonderful people and I realized that even though so many things separate us, we are all humans and we were still able to bond nevertheless through smiles, physical contacts, and small sentences. I lived like them for a week, I ate, talked, went to class with the kids, and even slept in their room! It was a beautiful exchange where I got to learn even more about how average malians live and they got to learn things about my culture as well.
Of course, I went there to teach and help those kids, but I feel like I learned just as much as they did. I chose to go work at Sinjiya-ton Mali because I saw its potential and how genuine the love they have for kids is. In this neighborhood, everyone is welcomed in the center at all times. In the computer room, in the backyard, during meals, during pe, even during our painting activity, little boys from the neighborhood joined us and were allowed to participate. It creates a wonderful atmosphere, people are always available to help each other and they all live together just like brothers and sisters. I feel lucky to have been a part of that community for a short week.
I could write so much more, but I strongly suggest you visit their website to learn even more about the association. Also, donations are more than welcomed. The founder and educators that work at the center do the best they can, but they lack funds.
My internship hasn’t been easy at all. I got out of my comfort zone and I won’t lie, the idea of giving up came to my mind a few times. However, it was a beautiful challenge and I am glad I overcame it. I will leave Mali with memories that will last a lifetime, and I am definitely planning on visiting them again in the future.