on Friday, August 28, 2015
Welcome to a new year at AISB

All of us who work in education can tell you that there really is something special about the beginning of a new school year. Returning students greet their friends as though they’ve been a world apart -- as indeed many of them have-- and the campus full of energy and excitement, noisy and happy, with a fresh start for everyone. A school without students is like a restaurant without guests; and after the quiet, intense early days of preparing for students' arrival, it is quite a relief to all of us to hear the first lockers banging and the first happy shrieks.

Of course the new school year also brings new friends.  AISB is pleased to welcome its new students and their families into the community, as well as new members of the faculty. And as one of the newcomers to the AISB community myself, I can vouch for the warm welcome AISB gives its newest members. You'll find short bios of our new faculty 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 5th, 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 would like to send a sincere thank-you to our Parent Teacher Organization for organizing the barbecue; you are instrumental in helping to build the warm, supportive community that AISB is famous for.  

I am extremely happy to welcome you all to the 2015-16 school year at AISB. The school's numbers and program are growing steadily, the kids are glad to be back, and we're looking forward to a great year.

See you at school,  
Brad Waugh


September Calendar

August 31
Quarter 1 After School Activities (ASAs) begin
September 3
08:00: Elementary School Assembly in the MPR
Pre-K Welcome Back to School
 19:00: Back to School Open House, K – Grade 12
September 5
Welcome Back to School BBQ at AISB
Sept. 10 - 11
High School trip to Kangaba
September 12
ACT Test 
September 17
Board meeting
September 21 - 25
Tabaski Break
September 28
PD Day: No school for students
Sept. 29 – Oct 9
MAP testing
October 3
SAT Test


New Faculty Bios

Renee Comesotti
Renée Comesotti was born in Vancouver, Canada and studied at the University of British Columbia, Queen's University (Kingston) and Athabasca University.  In her fourteen years’ experience she has taught Literature, Theory of Knowledge and a wide variety of cross-disciplinary courses for high school students in Bolivia, Sudan and Nepal. She has a master’s degree in International Education from Endicott College Massachusetts, and many years’ experience working with teachers as a curriculum coordinator.

Renée and her husband Brad Waugh have two grown daughters: Kieran, who is currently living and working in Vancouver, and Céilidhe, who teaches at The American School of Kinshasa.

Shannon Dunn
Shannon Dunn is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  While working on her Bachelor’s degree, Shannon spent time studying French in Lille, France. In 1999, Shannon received her Bachelor’s Degree in French with an emphasis in Humanities. Upon graduation, she spent time in Roubaix, France working as an English Assistant. Over the next few years she taught preschool and worked at a local Veterinary Clinic. Shannon returned to university to obtain a teaching certificate for K-6 Elementary and K-8 French. In 2012, Shannon moved to Abu Dhabi, UAE where she taught local children as an English Medium Teacher. Here she worked with grade 2 in a boys school and later as a kindergarten teacher. In the UAE, Shannon lived deep in the desert near the Saudi Arabia border with Bedouin people and camels where she enjoyed life as an expat while learning about a culture new to her. In her spare time she enjoys music, reading, time with friends, and working with animal rescue organizations. Shannon will be teaching kindergarten and is excited to be a part of the school and community.

Maggie Fezekas
Maggie Fezekas comes to us from Chicago, IL, USA and will be teaching grades 4 and 5 for the 2015-2016 school year.  She graduated from the University of Missouri and has five years of teaching experience.  She is an avid traveler and has taught at international schools in many different countries including Vietnam, Venezuela, and Paraguay.  She also lived in the Czech Republic after graduating from university.  Maggie loves reading, learning new languages, animals, yoga, and spending quality times with friends and family.  She can’t wait to meet her new students and become a part of the AISB community.  She is excited to make Bamako her home for many years to come.

Laura Forgie
Laura originally comes from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, in the midst of the Canadian prairies….flat land, big open skies, hot dry summers and long cold winters!

Her education degree is in Arts Education; teaching creative and educational art, dance, drama, literature and music.  Laura mainly taught these subjects (along with math, language arts and computers) to middle school students during her career in Regina.  Some of her best dance compositions came from her grade 8 boys!

While in Regina, Laura was a leader in the middle eastern dance community, teaching many classes and producing yearly dance shows.  She also facilitated circle dance workshops on a regular basis.  Laura is a trained aromatherapist, as well as a Reiki and Zen Shiatsu practitioner.  She likes to call herself a Jacqueline-of-all-trades!  In 2001, Laura moved overseas to teach in Laos.  Initially hired to teach French, she ended up becoming the K-12 Librarian and IT Coordinator at Vientiane International School.  There was a very steep learning curve that first year, but she learned a lot about being an effective librarian and the best way to integrate technology into teaching.  She also learned more about computers and LAN systems than she ever thought she wanted to know!

After 7 years in Laos, Laura moved to Malaysia where she was the secondary school teacher librarian at Mont’Kiara International School.  There she worked closely with International Baccalaureate students on their Extended Essays, and worked with all teachers and students grade 6-12 on research skills, and inspiring a love of reading.

There were a lot of personal ups and downs in life since Laura moved overseas and in 2013 she knew she needed a change….or at least a break from her more than 20 years of teaching.  She took some time to relax and recharge and explored creative outlets making silver jewellery and photographic art.

When the position at AISB came up to teach art and drama, Laura knew that this was the job for which she’d been biding her time!  She is very excited to be teaching something so fun and creative again and can’t wait to work with the students, sharing artistic ideas.

Laura and her cat, Nooks, are looking forward to their Mali adventure!

Sarah Lapidus
Sarah Lapidus is excited to be teaching science for grades 8 through 12 at AISB!  Last year, she worked for an education company in Cambridge, Massachusetts designing curriculum for schools.  Before that, she taught high school science in Sierra Leone in the Peace Corps.

Sarah is originally from New Jersey.

Veronique Mayer
Veronique Mayer is from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she was brought up in a large, francophone family.  She will be teaching grade 6 and 7 science and math as well as middle and high school health. Veronique loves soccer and has played since she was 10 years old.  She has played at the national, major league, and university levels.  She graduated from the University of Alberta where she represented the school as an elite athlete for five years.  She is also passionate about coaching and has coached a variety of sports at many levels.  She has been the Athletic Director at two different schools.  She is currently teaching middle school Science in Edmonton and loves being in the classroom.  She taught for two years in Paraguay and she is thrilled for another international experience, becoming part of the AISB community.

Tammi McCune
Tammi McCune has lived in Bamako for a year and is happy to be part of the AISB community, along with her husband, Dan, and their daughters, Elena and Lily.

Tammi enjoys traveling with her family and previously lived in Venezuela, India, and Kyrgyzstan.

Blessing Okoduwa
Blessing is joining AISB this year as an assistant in the PreK-4 classroom. She comes from Nigeria.

We are very glad she can join us here.

Bill Owens
Bill Owens grew up in New York City and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh where he received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature.  After university he taught English in Yamagata, Japan for two years before joining the Peace Corps in Cameroon.  Bill served as an agroforestry volunteer in a small francophone village near the capital, Yaounde.  While in Cameroon he met his wife, Kelly.  He returned to New York and taught in a public school while getting two Master’s’ degrees.  After a short stint in Alexandria, Egypt, Bill returned to Cameroon and taught middle and high school English and social studies for six years.  At AISB, he will teach middle school humanities.  Bill is excited about getting AISB students involved in Mali and its rich culture.  He is an Afrophile who is interested in learning Bambara and becoming part of the AISB family.

Kelly Owens
Kelly was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA).  She attended the University of Dayton (Ohio), where she studied history, and was the co-captain of the women’s golf team.  After graduating from university, Kelly joined the Peace Corps.  She served as an English teacher, in a small francophone village, in Cameroon.  During her assignment, she met Bill.  Bill and Kelly then moved to New York City, where Kelly got an M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, while teaching English at a high school for newly arrived immigrants.  After four years in New York, Kelly and Bill had the urge to move abroad.  After one year in Alexandria, Egypt, they spent the last six years teaching at the American School of Yaounde.  While in Cameroon, Kelly and Bill expanded their family and have two boys - Liam five and Seamus three.  Kelly is very excited about coming to AISB.  She will be teaching high school social studies.  As a student of African history, Kelly is thrilled to have the opportunity to finally teach this course.  In addition, Kelly is looking forward to learning more about Mali -- a history she has been fascinated with since university --  as well as learning Bambara and joining the AISB family.

Laura Sanders
After many years working in international development, Laura Sanders is excited for a change of pace.  Laura will be teaching Algebra I for 8th, 9th, and 10th graders.

This is Laura's second year in Bamako and first year with AISB.

Djeneba Sountera
Djeneba (Inna) Sountera joins AISB as a Grade 3 classroom assistant.
Djeneba comes from Mali.

We are very glad she can join us here.

Marcus Tanner
Marcus Tanner comes to AISB to continue Matt Kelsey’s work in the provision of IT education from Cairns, Australia. He has been involved in education since 1994, and has worked as a classroom teacher, head of department and education adviser. This has all taken place in a number of locations, from remote indigenous communities on Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands, Australia, to the tiny island nation of Nauru in the Central Pacific. Aside from IT, Marcus has also recently been teaching History and Geography at Trinity Bay State High School in Cairns, Australia.
Outside of school, an important interest for Marcus has been serving with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard in Cairns. He realises that continuing similar activities in Mali will be difficult, and is keen to explore and experience what Bamako has to offer.
He promises to not make anyone eat Vegemite!

Attie van den Berg
Attie van den Berg will be teaching Pre K3. She is from the Netherlands, and has a home in the Friesland province with her three daughters. She has been working as a teacher for 15 years in Holland. She is a creative, caring and sincere, with patience and humor. Over the last 4 years she has travelled to Mali several times and has loved it. She has traveled from Niafunke down to the border with Guinea and Senegal. She loves Mali for her friendly people, beautiful nature and rich culture.

Attie loves nature and growing vegetables and flowers in her garden leaving the crops for her daughters to harvest. Other hobbies are swimming, walking with the dog, cycling, reading and spending time with friends and family.  She loves music from John Coltrane to Van Morrison, Taj Mahal to Ali Farka Toure, from Bach to Satie and back to swinging children songs. She sings and dances and also likes to do so with the children.

Attie is also the new teacher at Zandloper (the Dutch School which takes place after school hours at AISB), where she is responsible for teaching the Dutch language and culture lessons.

Lysha Lansing Wasser
Lysha Lansing Wasser is thrilled to be joining the team at AISB with his wife Kourtney Wessels, and children River and Aviva.  At AISB, Lysha will serve as an administrator, college counselor, and 8th Grade Language Arts, Spanish I and Yearbook teacher.  Most recently, Lysha has served as an instructional coach at McMinnville High School were he coached over thirty teachers and facilitated Embedded Staff Development which focused on strategies that best serve English Learners.  In the recent past, Lysha taught Advanced Placement World History, The History of Latin America, Spanish, English Language Development, as well as served as Interim Assistant Principal.  While living in Ecuador and working at the American School of Quito, Lysha served as College Counselor and IB A2 English Teacher over five years.  Lysha loves traveling, being in the outdoors, and meeting new people.

Kourtney Wessels
Kourtney Wessels is joining us as the new K-12 ESOL teacher from McMinnville, Oregon in the United States. With a background in Environmental Science, ESOL, and Spanish, Kourtney is a veteran teacher of nine years at the middle and secondary levels.  Kourtney taught 9th grade sheltered science in Oregon before living in Ecuador and teaching middle school ESOL and science for five years at the American School of Quito.  Most recently she taught middle school Spanish and ESOL in Oregon. Kourtney and her husband Lysha Wasser will be joining AISB along with their two children, River and Aviva. She has a passion for learning through travel, spending time outdoors hiking, camping, and gardening, and spending time with family and friends. Kourtney is ready to be swept away by Mali and Africa.


You’re Invited!
Elementary Assembly

All parents of Elementary students are cordially invited to attend our twice-monthly Elementary Assemblies.  This month’s assembly will be held Thursday, September 3rd and hosted by our brand new Kindergarten Class. We hope to see you there!

Here's the schedule:

September 3
Hosted by Kindergarten
September 17
Hosted by Grades 1 and 2
October 1
Hosted by Grades 2 and 3
October 15
Hosted by Grades 4 and 5
October 29
Hosted by Grades 1, 2 and 3 French classes
November 12
Hosted by PreK 4
December 3
Hosted by PreK 3

Back to School Open House September 3
All Welcome

This year’s Back to School Open House will be held Thursday, September 3.  Parents and students are cordially invited to meet the faculty and staff, visit classrooms, and gather information about learning at AISB this year.

The evening will begin 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 10 - 11.  Students in grades 9 to 12 will leave campus Thursday morning and spend the night at the Kangaba resort, returning to campus late Friday morning.

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. Please see the letter to parents for more information.

Middle School “Lock-In”
The Middle School “Lock-In” sleepover takes place tonight, August 28th, here at school, from 14:45 until 08:00 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.

Visiting Speaker November 13
Making the Transition from AISB to Montréal

We are delighted to announce that AISB alumna Jennifer Provost (Class of 2010) will visit our school November 13th, to meet with Junior and Senior students. Jennifer, who graduated from McGill University in Montréal with a degree in International Development, is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in GöttingenGermany and will be conducting an action research project here in Mali over the next few months.

Jennifer will share practical information about major educational institutions in Canada including McGill University, Concordia University and the École des Hautes Études Commercial de Montréal (HEC). Her talk will also provide valuable insights and practical advice about making the transition from a small independent school in Africa to a large Canadian university.

The 11th and 12th grade advisory classes will attend the session; interested 10th grade students are also welcome.

Jennifer Provost and fellow student Katie Caswell, at Siby

English Classes at the American International School Bamako 

AISB is pleased to announce that it is continuing its  After-School Children’s English classes to non-AISB students between the ages of 5 and 16 years.

Please click the link for more information.


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