From the Director

on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Dear Parents,

It was so nice to see so many of you at the recent Halloween Carnival. Many thanks to the PTO for their work in planning and running the event. Also many thanks to the 10th grade students for the work they did running the games for the event.

Ebola Virus
Recently Dr. Jeremy Larson and Dr. Emily Rosenberg spoke at a town hall meeting about the Ebola Virus. They answered questions and reiterated that our community is not in either the high risk or low risk groups. They also confirmed that the precautions that we are taking:
Requiring everyone to wash their hands with soap, bleach and water,
Taking everyone’s temperature at the gate,
Sending home anyone who is feeling unwell,
are adequate precautions and in fact more conservative than measures that are in place at the US embassy.

To stay up to date on the latest accurate reports regarding the Ebola Virus please access the WHO and CDC websites:

While our minds are on the Ebola Virus, it is important to remember that statistically we are all at a much higher risk of contracting malaria or being seriously injured or killed in a car accident.

I was reminded of this recently. During the October break while traveling back from Dogon Country, some teachers and I were in a car accident. The van that we were traveling in was forced off the road by a large truck. Our driver lost control and we ended up upside down, each of us hanging from our seat belts. Amazingly, and thankfully none of us were seriously hurt. I strongly believe this was due to the fact that we were all wearing our seat belts.

Everyone who travels in an AISB vehicle is required to wear a seat belt before the vehicle starts moving. Drivers and monitors are instructed to stop the vehicle if students are not wearing their seat belts. Our students comply with this rule well.

However, I often see cars arriving in the morning with children not wearing a seat belt and at times even standing up with their heads on the windscreen – this is extremely dangerous. For their safety, please insist that your children wear a seat belt whenever they are in a moving vehicle.

Please see the article below as a reminder why this is so important:

Driving without a Seat Belt Statistics 
Driving is considered to be a dangerous task that should always be practiced with the upmost caution and precision. Though there are many factors that can potentially cause an accident to take place (i.e. drinking and driving, texting while driving, poor weather conditions, etc.), there is one element that each driver and passenger can control and should constantly be conscious of—wearing a seatbelt. Despite your age or common placement in the vehicle, (front or back seat), we encourage you to read further to see various statistics on driving without a seat belt.

Facts Regarding Seat Belt Usage
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death among those aged 5 to 34 in the United States. The most reliable method of saving lives and preventing injuries from occurring is to wear a seat belt. However, millions of drivers and passengers choose not to wear seat belts on every day occasions. Various statistics regarding seat belt usage include:
Seat belts can reduce injury and death rates by 50%
Adults aged 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than those 35 or older
Men are 10% less likely to wear seat belts than women
In 2011, 58% of teen drivers killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt
Teens have the lowest seat belt use of any other age group
Though all ages generally choose to ignore seat belt laws, it's quite clear that teens are the most responsible for overlooking the safety option of a seat belt. According to, common responses for teens not wearing a seat belt include:
The belts are uncomfortable
The trip was short
Lack of understanding a seat belt's importance
Not being "cool"

According to the Naval Safety Center, only 1% of passengers who were wearing a seat belt were ejected from a car during a crash. Therefore, whether you're in the driver's seat, the passenger's seat, or riding in the back, wearing a seat belt is equally important and should be incorporated on every single journey. Your life could be saved just by the simplest procedure of fastening your seat belt. 

Stay Safe—Buckle Up! 
Not only is wearing a seat belt the law, it's an act that could and does save lives. It doesn't matter how old you are, where you're traveling to, or where you're positioned in the car, you should always buckle up!

Accessed from: (November 24th, 2014)

Progress Reports
On Friday some parents will be receiving progress reports for their children. Secondary students who have less than a “C” in any subject will receive a progress report, as well as all ESOL students. Students in Elementary School will receive a progress report if their teacher has a concern about their progress or if they are receiving extra ESOL support.

Elementary School reports are sent home as hard copies. MS and HS reports will be available on FOCUS. I will notify parents when they are ready to view.

All the best,     

Caroline Jacoby

A Message From AISB's New Director

Dear AISB School Community,

Renee and I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for the kind welcome we received
during our visit to Bamako.  It was an honor to be invited to AISB to meet with you all.  

AISB is well known in the world of international schools for its strong sense of community and for the care it takes in ensuring the well-being of students. And indeed, during my visit I found a capable and supportive community of adults dedicated to their children's learning and well-being, and articulate, engaged students who love their school. 

AISB is a vibrant, student-centered school with its heart in the right place, and it is with great pleasure that I look forward to joining the AISB journey next school year. 

I wish you all a happy semester. 

Warmest regards,

Brad Waugh
A New Initiative – An Intern Program

AISB is excited to announce that we have launched an Internship Program for our 11th grade students. Based on a student project proposal, we will take learning out of the classroom and into the local community as students participate in a week-long internship in January 2015.

We agree that real-world experience is a necessary component in a well-rounded education. Students will be given the unique opportunity to explore their personal and professional interests, while applying their language and academic skills in the field. In preparation, students will attend a resume and interview workshop and receive job training. As requirements to the program, students are responsible for completing 30 hours of on-site work, they will document and reflect on their experiences, and share their new knowledge with future AISB interns. 
While this was a student-led initiative, it will be so much stronger with the support of the entire AISB community.  If you are aware of any internship opportunities or any potential contacts for students, please reach out to Lauren McBroom at

Lauren McBroom
Internship Coordinator

Girls’ High School Volleyball Trip to Dakar

Recently seven of our HS girls, along with their coaches, competed in the West African International Schools Athletic League (WAISAL) HS girls’ volleyball tournament. Below is a description of the trip written by two of the players. What they didn’t mention is the fact that they won the Sportsmanship Award! Well done girls. I was also pleased to see them come back highly motivated to compete in the HS soccer tournament in April 2015 and have already started training!

“The experience of defeat. In the beginning all of us were nervous about the tournament, but the thought of being in Dakar made it worth it. Kaydian especially was quite worried about being separated from her mom, being alone, and temporarily being hosted by a random family. The journey on the plane to Senegal was hilarious. On the plane Kale, Carla, and Laura were doing homework. Melinda and Raphaella were sleeping next to Ms Wilson. Michaella, Kaydian and Ms Schultz were having a blast; talking, eating bad food, listening to music, and just trying to have fun. Kaydian – being scared of heights had earplugs in her ears and was chewing gum like a cow. Kale, Michaella and everyone else were making fun of how she looked.

Finally we arrived in Dakar and had to go through an interview for our visa. Melinda - having a West African passport didn’t need to get a visa and Raphaella – with a diplomatic passport didn’t need one either. We then met Mr. Cissé (the ISD driver) who took us to the school. It was huge and beautiful! We saw so many kids and took a lot of pictures and “selfies”. It was at the school that we met our hosts. We were all hosted by at least one volleyball player. The overall experience for all of us with the families were suitable and agreeable.

On Thursday we went to Goree Island. It was fun, sad, but traumatizing at the same time. Hearing the history of what happened at that island really opened our eyes in a good way. The guide was educational while still being realistic and serious. The experience which traumatized most of us was the excessive attention and obsession we got from the sales women. They were persistent and scary, they wouldn’t  leave us alone and kept pushing us to come see their stores to buy their merchandise.

The day of the first matches, there was an opening ceremony at the school introducing all the teams and their coaches. We all bonded in our own ways with the other teams and even when playing matches we were all friendly and cheerful. In our match against ISD-A team everyone could tell we were frustrated, really angry, not concentrated and unrelaxed in the game.  It was the next day from watching the match with Abuja vs ISD-B team that we realized all the mistakes we made.

In preparation for our fight for 3rd place against ISD-B team, we were focused, relaxed, concentrated, and surprisingly almost won. After that we stayed to watch the final matches for girls and boys. Lincoln (Accra) won both for boys and girls, ISD-A team came second. 

That night the student council hosted a dance for the players, regular kids could come but they had to pay for entrance. Our experience seeing everyone dancing made us realize how diverse that school was, and we were actually amazed. The boys were AHHHHHHHH! The girls were OHHHHHHHH! And we were AWESOME! We owned the dance floor and showed them the Bamako power.

The last day of the trip we went to the beach, it was fun, the water was cold, some of us didn’t swim, but we all found a way to entertain ourselves. Then on our way back to the school we stopped at an American store, and we cleaned it out of all its chips and candy and chocolate. It was hilarious. We then went to the airport got on the plane and came back home to beautiful Bamako.”

By Kaydian and Melinda

Important Dates

Thursday 27th November:Thanksgiving – regular school day for AISB
Friday 28th November:Progress Reports sent home
Intramural Ultimate Frisbee (Grade 6 -12)
Tuesday 2nd December:PTO Meeting, 7:30a.m. – Library
Friday 12th December:2nd quarter after school activities end
Mon. 15th – Wed. 17th Dec:High School First Semester Exams
Wednesday 17th December:Winter Show, 1:30 – parents welcome
Thurs. 18th – Monday 5th January: Winter Vacation
Tuesday 6th January:School resumes
Genius Hour
After attending a conference in Addis Ababa earlier in the year, both Mr. Fessler and Ms Aafke have introduced the concept of “Genius Hour” into their class/after school activity. Read what this is all about……

Genius Hour — a regular time in class during which students get to pursue their own passion projects — is a gift that opens students up to the world of their own talents and interests. It allows them to reach beyond the routine, and embrace the uncertainty of their own audacious dreams.

How Genius Hour Evolved 
The concept of Genius Hour emerged from some of the world’s most innovative companies, whose leaders invited employees to explore their own ideas for contributing to the organization’s success. These leaders recognized that they needed to loosen the reins to create the conditions necessary for employees to think disruptively. Google famously allows its employees 20% of their work time to do this. For one day a week, employees work on projects of their choosing — a process that produced Gmail, Google News and several other important products in the Google family.

Every Friday afternoon the third grade students work in class on their projects. During the week they visit the library to see if there are books about their project, they find people to interview and they search on the Internet.

Some projects that the third grade students are working on are:
How come E. B. White wrote famous books while he did not like writing?
Racism: how did it start and when did it stop?
How come wings of planes do not go up and down like bird wings?
What was the first piece of Art in history and what materials did people use?

After some weeks, every student will present his/her project in some way. This may be using a PowerPoint, a poster, Art work or some other form.

Aafke Zoutewelle
3rd Grade Teacher

In Mr. Fessler's class, 12 Grade 4 and 5 students are participating in Genius Hour as an after school activity on Tuesdays.

Students have chosen topics, made a plan for researching their topics, and have just begun the research phase. Some of the topics include:
How did Versace become a fashion designer and from where did he get his ideas?
Where do we get rubies--how do they form?
Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?
What's the main reason most doctors choose to go into medicine?
What is the history of cigars?
Are dragons real, and if not, where did the idea come from?

Once students adequately research their topics, they determine the best way to present their findings. This could be through the creation of an iMovie, PowerPoint, speech, poster, etc. The culminating event is an exhibition in which students present their findings.

Jeff Fessler
4th/5th Grade Teacher

Welcome to New Members of the AISB Community

Lauren McBroom will be coordinating the Internship Program (see more below) at AISB and has also been substituting. 

Lauren earned her B.A. in French and M.A. in Curriculum Development from Michigan State University. She has six years of experience teaching in the United States and in France, for three of which she coordinated a successful high school internship program in Washington, DC. Lauren recently arrived in Bamako with her husband, Michael, who works for USAID's Program Office. Lauren enjoys traveling, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her dog, Gatsby.

Mrs. Mary Beth Bechtel recently moved to Bamako with her husband Brigham who is assigned to the U.S. Embassy.   She has taught off and on for the past 28 years while her family has lived around the world.  Mary Beth holds a Bachelors degree in early childhood education and a Masters degree in special education.  

Mary Beth and Brigham have three grown children - all living back in the U.S.  Only their dog Bismarck will join them here in Bamako.  Mary Beth just moved from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where they lived for two years.  Before that the Bechtels lived in Germany, Greece, and Austria.  Mary Beth will be the part time learning support teacher at AISB, working with teachers and students.

Miss Patsie, volunteer teacher's aide 

Miss Patsie is a recent high school graduate from Upstate New York in the United States. Her father is the Medical Officer for the Peace Corps, and she is staying here in Bamako with her family for 1 year in between high school and university. At AISB she is learning as much as she is teaching, and is really getting a feel for what primary and secondary education is like. She is currently assisting Mr. Young with middle school math, Mme Fabré with high school French, Miss O'Brien with Kindergarten, and Miss Navin with 2nd grade.