It feels like the first days of school all over again! We had a successful opening of the campus for Grades 6 and 11 this past Wednesday 23 September and we are eagerly anticipating welcoming our Grade 8 and 10 students back on campus this Friday 25 September.
As you can see from the images below, the students remain 1.5 meters from each other in all lessons, and are still learning and engaged. I am so proud of our students, our parents, our faculty and the entire AISL community for taking the Health and Safety protocols seriously, and for coming to school with such positive attitudes!
Areas of improvement
There are a few areas of improvement with which we could use some parent support. The first has to do with drop off and pickup times. Please remember that students are only allowed on campus from 7:00 am onwards, as we do not have teacher supervision available before that time. For middle school students, please remember that the pickup time is 2:20 pm. As our teachers have meetings each day at 2:35 pm, we do not have teacher supervision available after 2:35 pm. Therefore, it’s extremely important that parents pick up their middle school children on time. Thank you for being mindful of this issue.
Overall, our students did a great job this week with wearing masks and staying 1.5 meters away from others. They learned that it’s okay to walk on the grass rather than the walkway, that they need to be two arms’ lengths from each other, and that their teachers will help them with not walking together by dismissing them early and in small groups.
However, our Grade 6 and 11 students needed some reminding this week about social distancing, as they are learning new habits about staying 1.5 meters apart from their friends. We will support our Grade 8 and 10 students with the same reminders when they are on campus tomorrow. We understand that learning new habits is challenging at first. Please help us at home by emphasizing the importance of social distancing as well as the importance of wearing face masks.
Save the Date!
We host three to six Parent Information Sessions each month to support our parents in learning about what their children are learning and how to support them at home. If you have ideas about Parent Information Sessions that you or others would like to attend, please let our Assistant Principal, Dr. Sheila Seiler, know by writing to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Parent Information Sessions:
Thursday 24 September - 18:00-19:00 - Grade 10 Personal Project
This session is for Secondary parents of students new to Grade 10 and anyone who would like a refresher. The session will be an information session about the Personal Project. Our MYP Coordinator, Ingrid Turner, and Secondary librarian, Terry Maguire, will host this information session. Parents can join by clicking this link.
Tuesday 29 September - 18:00-19:00 - Verbal Jam Cocktail Hour: Taking Care of Ourselves
Our counselor, Driekie Smith, will host an exclusive parent-only Verbal Jam Cocktail Hour to discuss self-care strategies. Come prepared with an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage of choice (and maybe a recipe of a family-secret beverage) and some strategies or tips to share. Parents can join by clicking this Zoom link.
We know that this can be a time filled with uncertainties so please understand that our highest priority is the health and well-being of your children, and if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Rick Odum, Secondary Principal
Dr. Sheila Seiler, Secondary Assistant Principal
The Ministry of Health’s current guidance is that anyone who travels internationally should self-isolate for fourteen days after arrival in Zambia. This applies even to those who arrive with a negative test from their country of departure. Therefore, if anyone in the household has travelled internationally, we require that the children do not come to campus until the 14-day period has passed. Of course, those children should continue to participate in our distance learning program while they are waiting. We know that everyone is eager to return to campus but it is important that everyone adhere to these Ministry of Health guidelines. Like you, we have heard stories of people being told differently upon arrival at the airport but, for now, we must comply with the official guidance we have received. If that guidance changes, we will certainly review the situation.
On their first day back on campus, Grade 11 students attended a day-long retreat facilitated by our College and High School Counselor, Julie Baldry, and our Diploma Programme (DP) Coordinator, Monica Murphy. With two overarching goals - to promote social bonding and to develop a deeper understanding of the DP - the retreat was also an opportunity for students to experience a hybrid learning environment for the first time.
Students worked in groups of 4-6 throughout the day. These groups were carefully chosen to include as broad a range of cultural backgrounds as possible, and to include at least one Path 2 student. This arrangement enabled on-campus students to integrate distance learning peers in discussion and activities - something that will be necessary in their classes over the next few weeks.
The retreat had many mini-sessions, including the following:
Best of luck to the Class of 2022 as they transition back to on-campus learning!
Congratulations to David Burrows, Aki Georgiou, and Rob Munro for being elected (or re-elected) to the AISL Board of Directors at last night’s Election General Meeting. We were lucky to have six highly-qualified candidates stand for our three vacancies, which certainly made it hard for our attendees to decide! Thanks also to the 54 attendees for being a part of this important decision.
Did you know that the AISL campus covers 10 hectares (approximately 25 acres)? It has been expanded over time through the acquisition of three different properties. The most recent addition to our campus, the Palm Pavilion property, added approximately 1.4 hectares to our footprint. If you have ever walked from the Primary Tuck Shop to the Leopards’ Lair gym you will undoubtedly have realized that our property is built on a hillside. The highest point on the campus is 22 meters higher than our gates on Leopard Hill Road. This slope has provided significant challenges to our campus improvement projects.
On that note, you might also be interested to know that maintaining precious green space and preserving our trees has been a formal objective in all of our campus improvement planning. There is an increasing body of evidence to show that spending time in – or even in sight of – green spaces brings both physical and emotional benefits, including reduced anxiety, increased feelings of happiness, and even improved senses of hearing and smell. We all consider ourselves very lucky to be able to spend the day on such a beautiful campus.
What I am excited about this week…
Welcome to ELC, Kindergarten, and Grades 1,6, and 11! It was such a pleasure to welcome five more grade levels to campus yesterday. The day went very smoothly. Kudos to the staff and students for their diligence in adhering to our health and safety measures. Please ensure that you have reviewed our health and safety protocols (see the COVID-19 webpage) and help us by reinforcing their importance with your children. We are eager to welcome the rest of our grade levels across the next week.
Starting our Self-Study Process! During our professional development day on Tuesday, we began our self-study in preparation for reaccreditation by the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), and the International Baccalaureate (IB). These three accreditations serve as an external quality control measure to ensure that we are continuing to offer a world-class education. The self-study is a year-long, in-depth review of all aspects of our organization with an eye toward continuous improvement. It will eventually require input from all school constituencies. You can learn more about this process later in this newsletter.
Verbal Jam Cocktail Hour: Please join our school counselor, Driekie Smith, for an exclusive adult-only Verbal Jam Cocktail Hour. Come prepared with a beverage of choice (and maybe the recipe of a family secret alcoholic or non-alcoholic treat) as we collectively try to find answers to questions such as:
First PTA Meeting of the Year! Please come join the PTA’s first meeting of the year at 18:00 on 30 September. The meeting will be conducted via Zoom. You can join by clicking here (Meeting ID: 338 890 7703, Passcode: 7bhmp6)
Verbal Jam website! Don’t forget to visit our new Verbal Jam webpage. Verbal Jam is designed to be an exclusive AISL online environment where thoughts, opinions, news, and advice all come together. We invite all AISL students, parents, and staff to take part in an ongoing online conversation focused on sharing, motivating, and, of course, educating! Please take a few moments to explore the site and please post messages on the Thrive Message Board. The Verbal Jam password is the same as the one we use for the Parent Portal.
Health and Safety Dashboard! Since we reopened to Grades 7,9, and 12 on 20 August, we have been tracking important health and safety data on a weekly basis. We have used this data to create a visual dashboard that will help to provide an overview of health and safety on campus and to monitor our fidelity to our protocols. The dashboard is updated every Friday and can be viewed on the school’s COVID-19 Information webpage.
On Tuesday 22 September, AISL faculty and staff began the important work of the Self Study. This year-long process is an enriching opportunity to reflect on how well the school is progressing against the standards from three accreditation bodies: Council of International Schools (CIS), Middle States Association (MSA), and the International Baccalaureate (IB). Building on the success of the Preparatory visit by the CIS and MSA visitors in February 2020 we are now moving into the Team Evaluation phase.
All faculty and staff have been assigned to a domain group to provide their perspective to a distinctive area of the school. Special thanks to the domain co-chairs for their willingness, vision, and perseverance to lead this important work.
Domain A Purpose and direction - Liz Haske and Rob Martin
Domain B Governance, ownership, and leadership - Diana Hoffman and Bob Stewart
Domain C The Curriculum - Claire Potts, Ingrid Turner and Monica Murphy
Domain D Teaching and assessing for learning - Elisa Ingles Velasco and Terry Maguire
Domain E Well-being - Natalie Coombs and Julie Baldry
Domain F Staffing - Darlene Huson and Mache Adonis
Domain G Premises, facilities, technology systems, and auxiliary services - Jim Haske and Michael Mee
Domain H Community and home partnerships - Jill Daley and Alta Conte
Over the coming months we will be seeking the opinions and feedback from all members of the community including; students, parents, board members, and alumni. We look forward to hearing your views as we continue this important work of strengthening our school.
Self Study Coordinator
On Wednesday, we were extremely excited to welcome back our first phase of students in Primary. We said hello to many of our Early Learning Center, Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. The first day was a success, whether they were connecting with peers, exploring their new classroom, learning our new routines, or enjoying the new campus, our students had a great first day back. We look forward to welcoming back our G2-G5 very soon.
Spotlight on students: a successful virtual Talent Show
Well done to all of our students who participated in this year's annual Talent Show. Although we were not able to host the event in our usual fashion, it was a success all the same. Our students and teachers had the opportunity to view it virtually last Friday, 18 September via our Seesaw blog and leave comments for each performer. Thank you to Ms Natalie and Ms Elisa for making this event possible. We look forward to see our new and returning talents next year!
Please continue communicating with us...
As we prepare for the second wave of students this Friday, 25 September, and our third wave on Wednesday, 30 September, we ask that you communicate your child's learning plan with us. For families with children in G2 and G3 who have not completed this form yet, please do so at your earliest convenience. For families with children in G4 and G5, you are welcome to complete this form at any time between now and next Tuesday so that we know how to best prepare for your child.
Until next week,
Darlene Huson, Primary Principal
Christine Kelly, Primary Assistant Principal/PYP Coordinator
Tony Potts, Primary Assistant Principal/Tech Integration Specialist
Dear Students and Parents,
Our AISL Coaches are excited to be back this week with more ASA videos for you to watch and practice some drills you would have learnt during our ASA program. We hope you enjoy these drills!
Kindly click on the thumbnail below and the video will pop up for you to view.
Distance and hybrid learning have shaped the first month of AISL’s 2020-21 academic year. Having had a month or so to settle into this new phase of Distance Learning, students from Grades 6-12 were asked to complete a survey in advisory around their distance learning experiences. We had 65% of students respond, and AISL faculty have considered their feedback carefully in order to improve students’ educational experience.
We were particularly interested in how feedback from our purely online students (in grades 6, 8, 10 and 11) compared with feedback from those in hybrid grades (7, 9, and 12). In hybrid grades, almost all students have actually been on campus, but their classes have, of course, been impacted by our health and safety protocols. While there is always room for improvement, the feedback shows that AISL’s Distance Learning Program is meeting the needs of the large majority of our students.
Wellness & Safety
We know that social interaction is extremely important for students’ overall well-being and academic success. Our counsellors and advisors use these survey results to check in on students who are struggling. When more students arrive on campus next week, it’s crucial that we all follow the safety protocols carefully to better foster the friendships that thrive with in-person contact.
On-campus students are generally very happy with AISL’s health and safety measures: on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most favourable, these students rated their current sense of safety at “8”. The prospect of all students returning has led to some uncertainty, but students still feel they’re at a “7” in terms of additional grades on campus.
In this section of the survey, we targeted specific issues related to distance learning and the instructional changes that have taken place since the COVID outbreak.
Some survey questions required students to evaluate elements of their learning on a scale of 1-10.
Altogether, we are very happy with the survey results as there is a great deal of positive feedback, and we have some useful feedback to act upon as educators, so that we can work to improve the learning experience for your students.
The Leopard's Tale is our main medium to keep our families informed on such things as the day to day happenings on campus, after school activities, summaries of any arts and sports events, helpful resources, and important dates and reminders.
Parent Information Sessions
Here are the upcoming sessions – all parents are welcome and encouraged to attend: