Welcome to the 2020-21 School Year! We are thrilled to be back to school and working with your children. Obviously, the start of this school year is unlike any other year yet we remain committed to our mission of offering the highest-quality international education taught by the most highly-qualified faculty in the country.
Our new Distance Learning 3.0 (DL3.0) program has been heavily revised based on feedback from our students, parents, and faculty. It is designed to be highly flexible in order to support the wide range of needs in our community. Our distance learning program has two Learning Paths: Real-time Distance Learning and Flexible Distance Learning.
Our Real-time Distance Learning Path is designed to offer a synchronous student experience within our regular school hours and following our normal schedule of classes. The goal of this program is to provide as much of an “in-the-classroom” experience as possible. It is meant to maximize engagement and provide frequent opportunities for students to have direct interactions with their teacher, teaching assistants, and peers.
Our Flexible Distance Learning Path is targeted toward students who are located in other time zones or who have unique educational circumstances that are not suited to the Real-time Distance Learning Path. The Flexible Distance Learning Path is largely asynchronous, which allows students to work on learning tasks according to their own schedules. There are still multiple opportunities each week for these students to interact directly with their teachers.
Our goal in implementing these two learning paths is to provide as much flexibility as possible. For example, it is conceivable that a student’s unique situation might require that he or she has to switch between these two paths. The critical factor in our success lies in regular contact with the student and parent. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Primary and Secondary Principals to explain your situation so we can make an educational plan that will best support your child.
It is important for parents to remember that this is not a “home-schooling” program. You do not need to teach your children; please leave that to our highly-skilled teachers. We do ask that you provide the necessary support, including adequate rest, a safe and pleasant work-space, and consistent internet access but please feel free to leave the teaching to us! Please take some time to explore our Distance Learning Setup and Support page on the school website. There is a wealth of information designed to ensure a smooth start to the school year. If you have questions, need advice, or technical support, please contact anybody on our staff. If that person cannot help you with the issue, he or she can direct you to someone who can.
Of course, the ideal situation is the reopening of campus. Currently, the government of Zambia, by Presidential Decree, only permits the opening of school campuses for “examination” grades. In the Zambian context, that means Grades 7, 9, and 12. You are correct in thinking that these grade levels do not necessarily align with our own program’s “examination” grades; however, at this time, we do not have the legal flexibility to reinterpret the government’s mandates. Rest assured that we are working to seek the necessary permissions. In the mean-time, we are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Zambia carefully and are planning to reopen the campus to the authorized grade levels (7, 9, and 12) on 20 August. We will review and communicate our plans to reopen campus next week.
In other news, we are thrilled to report on the successes of the Class of 2020. Despite having a tumultuous ending to their high school years, these impressive young people have landed very well. First, we were generally pleased with their IB Diploma scores. We believe that the cancellation of the exams and the subsequent measures that were used to calculate student grades disadvantaged some of our students. We have joined with hundreds of schools around the world in a strident appeal to the IB to review the process that they followed and many of the decisions they made. If we are successful, our results will be even better. Second, regardless of the IB Diploma scores, 95% of the students who applied to university were accepted into their first-choice school! Furthermore, the students earned a combined total of $1.7 million in non-repayable university scholarships. These are spectacular university results and are indeed some of our best ever. You can learn more later in this newsletter. Congratulations to the Class of 2020 for rising to the challenge!
We had a fun start to the school year with our First Day of School Assembly at 07:30 on Thursday. Almost 200 Secondary students were able to join us from all around the world! We kept the Secondary School tradition of playing “Two Truths and a Lie” to introduce our new Principal and five new teachers.
Our new Principal is Dr. Rick Odum and our new teachers are as follows: Joanna Gutierrez (PYP, MYP, and DP Music), Dr. Dean Lindstrom (Grade 9 and DP Mathematics, and Grade 7 Science), Chantra Reinman (Director of Student Support Services), Mark Reinman (Grade 9 and DP Language and Literature, Grade 12 TOK), and Adam Cruickshank (DP Economics and Grade 9 Individuals and Societies).
We want to let you know more about what to expect for the start of the school year. In this section, we will explain how we are supporting students and parents during the start of this school year.
Our students are supported academically, social-emotionally, and technologically through a variety of programs in the Secondary school.
Students are supported academically through being able to access learning resources and materials on the Landing Pages for their classes. These Landing Pages are located in the Student Portal, to which all students have access. Students whose families have indicated that they prefer Path 3 (Flexible Distance Learning) can access their learning materials via the Landing Pages and watch recordings of the class videos at times that work for them. Students whose families have indicated that they will join us on Path 2 (Real-Time Distance Learning) should be present in class each day. If they cannot attend for a whole school day for any reason, please contact us at email@example.com so that their teachers are aware they will be absent from class. If they cannot attend a specific class, please notify that class’ teacher.
Below is an example of what the links to the Landing Pages looks like.
Below are some example Landing Pages so you can get an idea of what they look like for different grades and classes. You'll notice that they all have a link to the Google Meet for the lesson, the learning objectives, and the resources and learning experiences for the students. The Landing Pages ensure that students in Path 2 (Real-Time Distance Learning) and Path 3 (Flexible Distance Learning) can be successful during distance learning.
Students are also supported academically through the AISL timetable, starting each day at 7:30 am and ending on Mondays through Thursdays at 2:30 pm and Fridays at 1:00 pm. Students on Path 3 who are not attending classes will be invited by their teachers to check-ins each week so that their teachers can build student-teacher relationships and support them; those check-ins will begin on Monday 17 August. Your child’s timetable is available on ManageBac.
Our teachers will support students academically during class by ensuring that the lessons are engaging. Students will participate in group work, all-class discussions, and independent work. If the lesson allows, they will be permitted to log off to work on tasks offline while the teacher stays in the Google Meet so if the student has a question, the student can log back on and receive support.
Students’ social and emotional needs are supported through our Advisory program, which continues during distance learning. All Grade 6-10 students have Advisory on Mondays through Thursdays at 8:55-9:30 am. Grade 11 and 12 students have Advisory built into their schedule as part of their Advisory/CAS/EE block. Our counselors are involved in working with the advisors to make sure that student needs are being met.
Our students are supported technologically in several ways. On the Student Portal, they can navigate to the Tech@AISL page, which is located at the top of the page on the right. That page contains tutorials and information about all aspects of technology use and agreements in the Secondary school. If they have a problem with accessing ManageBac, their school email, or the Student Portal, or if they have a problem with a device, they can contact our technology support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our teachers and advisors are also supporting students in their classes at being able to navigate the Landing Pages and ManageBac.
We extend our technological support to allowing students to take breaks, with permission, during lesson times. If they feel strained during the class from being online, they just need to ask their teacher when might be a good time to take a break. Our teachers will also build breaks into their lessons. If the screen time is too much for your child and you decide to switch to Path 3, which allows students to complete assignments and watch lesson recordings on their own time, please let us know. We will communicate the switch from Path 2 (Real-Time Distance Learning) to Path 3 (Flexible Distance Learning) with your child’s teachers.
Our parents will continue to receive weekly updates on the Secondary program through the Leopard’s Tale. We will also host Open Night at 17:30-19:30 on Tuesday 18 August. Open Night is an evening when parents can meet their children’s teachers and advisor as well as the Secondary school leaders.
We will create a schedule with links to the Google Meets presentations for each teacher and class so that parents can meet all their child’s teachers and learn about all their classes. That schedule will be released in the Leopard’s Tale next week, so stay tuned.
Feedback and communication
We care deeply about making sure that every student thrives. Your feedback and communication help us to make sure that your child manages the academic, social-emotional, and technology challenges of distance learning. Please contact us with any questions or feedback you might have. Thank you for all your support at home.
Dr. Rick Odum, Secondary Principal
Dr. Sheila Seiler, Secondary Assistant Principal
Welcome back to our AISL Community, families both returning and new! We are all so excited to see you and, if you are new, we look forward to getting to know you! We hope you will enjoy your time in beautiful Zambia and that your child(ren) will thrive at AISL.
The AISL Library will continue to circulate books to our patrons using the on-line request forms on our virtual library. We will fill requests for primary school students and secondary school students on alternating weeks. The links to the forms are right on the main virtual library page (password is the same as for the parent portal & the same as the password for the virtual library). Students may check out five books at a time for a 2-week loan period, and parents may check out up to ten items at a time.
We look forward to supporting student learning at AISL, promoting book love, and teaching information literacy & digital citizenship across all grade levels. We've already been collaborating with teachers to make sure that every unit is as rich as possible and to explore new ways to engage students in on-line platforms using the best tools available. We are thrilled to have everyone back this week! And as soon as the situation permits, we look forward to welcoming you back to campus and to our vibrant library space!
See you soon, everyone!
Terry Maguire, Secondary School Librarian
Jill Daley, Primary School Librarian
Lunyunge Sinyenga, Library Assistant
Dear Primary Parents,
Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year. It was lovely to meet our new families this week and look forward to helping them settle into their new classes and meet new friends in the coming days.
As shared in the initial Welcome Letter, we will be hosting our annual Listening Conferences during the first full week of school (10-14 August). These conferences are an opportunity for you to meet your child's homeroom teacher and share any information with him/her that could help support your child and family in the coming year. This is particularly important since we will be beginning the year with Distance Learning. We have moved these conferences earlier this year so that your child has the opportunity to meet and greet their new teacher(s) in person. If you haven't done so already, please click on this sign-up link to reserve a time for a Listening Conference.
As we begin the Distance Learning program, we encourage you to reach out if you need any technical assistance. A good starting place will be the Distance Learning Set-up and Support page on our website. All of our teachers will be focusing on building their classroom communities in the early days, so we have some time to help settle any technical challenges that families may be experiencing to make sure that the Distance Learning program is running smoothly for everyone. If you are having any difficulty logging in, please complete the tech support form. We are here to help.
Again, welcome back. We look forward to 'seeing' all of you in the coming weeks whether in person or online.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on your Diploma Programme (DP) results! AISL graduates had an unusual senior year, to say the least. With a global pandemic spreading, they were challenged in a way no other DP cohort has been. All of our students deserve to be commended for their achievements. In arts, academics, athletics, and service, AISL students contributed positively and left their mark on the school and community beyond.
Because exams were cancelled this year, the IB awarded final grades based on a mathematical formula that considered student work, predicted grades, and historical data. In general, this year’s results are in line with our past performance. There are particular cases at both the subject and candidate levels, however, where the results are anomalous. We are submitting formal subject-level appeals for Chemistry Higher Level (HL), Physics HL, Economics HL, and Math Standard Level (SL), as well as for individual students. Thus, the results we are sharing today are provisional, and it may be another six weeks until we have final numbers.
As an inclusive school, AISL doesn’t restrict access to the DP based on grades. As a result, all of our students, regardless of their academic ability, are able to challenge themselves through this rigorous and enriching programme. We believe that despite the issues that have arisen this year, the IB Diploma Programme provides a world-class education that sets our students up for success.
- Monica Murphy, DP Coordinator
Many thanks to Anne Jennings for the graphic design!
Looking back on the whole year…
When we started this school year in August, who could have guessed what an unprecedented ending it would have? The global pandemic has challenged us all to reconsider many aspects of how we live and to adjust how we interact with each other. It certainly led us to re-think our approach to schooling. In August, nobody would have imagined that we would spend the last twelve weeks of the year engaged in distance learning. Although we are all hyper-focused on it right now, let’s not allow COVID-19 to define the entire school year.
I am proud to say that, whether in person or through the distance learning program, we have never wavered in our commitment to teaching the whole child. Beyond an unparalleled academic program, we have continued to strive to support our diverse students in social, emotional, and physical health along with artistic expression, service to the community, and a commitment to leadership. Despite the global pandemic, the 2019-20 school year was another exciting one for AISL’s students.
We continued to develop our band and choir, produced two school plays, multiple coffee houses, various music and drama nights, and multiple arts exhibitions (including the first virtual DP Visual Arts Exhibition). We hosted a brilliant ISSEA Band and Choir Festival. Our After-School Activity (ASA) program offered more than sixty individual activities in each season. We fielded dozens of teams that participated in scores of fixtures and tournaments. Along the way, our students won ten LISL championships, 23 ISAZ Midlands Championships, and six ISAZ National Championships! Our students traveled on numerous international trips, Explore Zambia trips, and sports trips. They participated in more than two dozen individual student-led service projects. We had an exciting school-wide Zambia Day and our largest ever PTA Trunk or Treat. And there is so much more!
Most importantly, we accomplished all this while never losing focus on our day to day commitment to a world-class academic program! Our students worked hard across the entire International Baccalaureate program. Their efforts culminated in impressive displays of learning, including the Extended Essay presentations, MYP Personal Project Expo, and the virtual Grade 5 PYP Exhibition. Our MAP testing showed our students making great progress across all grade levels and subject areas. The majority of students in the Class of 2020 were accepted into their first-choice university and many earned significant amounts of financial aid. In short, we managed to have a great school year despite the significant challenges presented by COVID-19.
I am honored to serve as the eighth Director of AISL. This is a very special school blessed with an involved and supportive community, wonderful students, world-class educators, and superb facilities. Despite the unusual ending, I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed your time at AISL this year. If you are leaving us, I wish you the very best of luck. If you are staying, I look forward to working with you again next year. Either way, always remember that once you are a Leopard, you are always a Leopard!
Have a great vacation!
URGENT: Please let us know your plans
As I mentioned above, the COVID-19 situation is forcing us to plan for August in a situation with very little reliable information. Planning staff and student schedules under these circumstances is extremely difficult. If you haven’t done so already, please reach out to Natasha in Admissions (email@example.com) to let us know your family’s plans for August. Will you be in Lusaka? Will you be overseas? If you are overseas, when might you return? Are you planning to re-enroll your child(ren) at AISL? Even if you are not 100% sure, please let us know. The sooner we have this information, the better we will be able to serve everyone.
Please share your feedback on Distance Learning 2.0
As you know, the team here at AISL is deeply committed to continuously improving our programs. Having transitioned very quickly to our distance learning program, we worked hard to gather feedback and adjust along the way. Your feedback was very helpful to that process.
Although we are hoping to return to face-to-face learning in August, we humbly request another round of feedback so that we can make further refinements to our distance learning program – for whenever we need to use it again. I would be grateful if you could share your reflections by clicking here. Your feedback will be very useful to us.
Check out our Virtual Awards Ceremonies
It’s not too late to enjoy our virtual awards ceremonies. Events such as Graduation, the Academic and Sports Awards Ceremonies, and the Grade 5 Transition Ceremony are important rites of passage for our scholars. Although we could not hold this year’s ceremonies in person, our team has worked very hard to create virtual versions of these annual traditions. Please visit our Virtual Awards Ceremonies webpage and take some time to celebrate our students’ many achievements (password as per parent portal). I hope that you enjoy your visit to these ceremonies and that they demonstrate to you our unwavering commitment to create opportunities for our students to thrive.
Thank you for all the support, communication, and care that you have given our school and your child as we have continued with teaching and learning during distance learning. We have all grown so much over the past few months as we have learned new ways of communicating and creating, improved our adaptability, and thought deeply about what it means to be a school and a community.
Taking a break
We have all worked hard and accomplished a great deal over the past school year. We set goals and achieved them, stretched ourselves in ways we could not have anticipated, and are looking forward to a much-needed rest. We hope that all our students will use this time to rejuvenate, work on some non-academic goals, and will focus on connecting with themselves, their friends, and families. For those students who are looking to extend themselves academically during the break, our library has resources they can use and many of our teachers have already given supplemental assignments for students who need them or who have requested them.
See you later!
In international schools, our population is often transient, needing to leave one school and country to go to another. All of our Secondary students spent time last week and this week in learning to say “see you later” to classmates and friends. They had dedicated Advisory sessions to share favorite memories, say a few words about leaving students, and find ways to stay connected to each other. “Goodbye”s are hard, so we prefer “see you later”s - because we do hope to see all of our transitioning students later.
Please share your feedback.
We were able to make improvements and adjustments to the distance learning program because of feedback from parents, students, and teachers. We would appreciate your feedback on your child’s experiences, what we did well, and how we can improve. Please help us be the best school we can be for your child by sharing your insights through this feedback survey. Thank you for supporting your child’s learning by giving us feedback.
We’re ready for August.
During distance learning, we continued our work with curriculum revisions and planning, working on improvement programs, and continuing to raise the standards of teaching and learning in the Secondary school. Our teachers are ready to ensure that, come August, we can keep making sure that every student thrives.
We look forward to seeing you again in August - or somewhere out there in the world!
Ty Smeins, Secondary Principal
Sheila Seiler, Secondary Assistant Principal
Secondary Library Updates: Book Returns, Free On-line YA Books, & This Week's Audiosync Free Downloadable Audio Books
Happy vacation everyone! On this last day of school we want to take a moment to thank our entire community for a great year- even with its unusual ending! Here are some updates:
Book Returns: Please Drop Off if You Haven't Already
Huge thank you to those of you who've returned books to the guard post at the Secondary School Gate. We appreciate it! We know that some of you are too far away to return books. Please bring them with you as soon as you return or send them to us if you are able. If you left Zambia with books and now do not anticipate returning, please be in touch with us so that we can issue bills. We will need to do a lot of book replacement so that we do not have huge holes in popular series or missing beloved books or ones that students rely on for MYP / DP coursework and major assessments. We appreciate your understanding.
Overdue Notices & Book Payment
Our library software system will continue to send out overdue notices weekly across the break until records are cleared. This is for your information so that you are aware of what our records are showing you as having out. Note that should you need to pay for any items that are lost or that cannot be returned, we add 30% to the cost of the books to cover international shipping, high-quality library bindings, and processing.
If you need to pay for lost books, please see Ms. Cleopatra Chabalenge in the AISL Business Office. She will assist you with payments.
Yes, you WILL be able to keep checking books out across the break! We will continue to use the book request form that is posted right on the virtual library pages & on the library page of the AISL website. The form will close Wednesdays at midnight (Central Africa Time) preceding a Friday pick-up date. Pick-ups will be Friday every other week from 09:00-18:00 as follows:
Holiday Enrichment and Activities
If you are looking for ideas for holiday fun, reading activities, and more, please check out both our #BookLove Libguide and our Holiday Learning Libguide. The password for both of these is the same as for parent portal and virtual library. Please ask your child if you need it!
Great FREE On-line YA (Young Adult) Novels
For the month of June, Riveted by Simon Teen (part of Simon & Schuster Publishers) has FANTASTIC YA reads online for FREE! It really is too good to be true- but there it is! The first book on the list, Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is incredible.
This Week's AudioSync FREE Downloadable YA Books
Check out this week's AudioSync Books: Mark of the Raven by Morgan Busse (The Ravenwood Saga #1), a work of fantasy, paired with Easy Prey by Catherine Lo, a YA mystery read. Keep checking AudioSync weekly so you can download books across the holiday. The downloads run weekly through 29 July.
Middle School & High School Virtual Library Classroom Spaces
All middle school and high school students have access to the virtual library classroom spaces I made for them. These virtual spaces include some great book suggestions, books coming out as movies (here's the AISL MS Youtube playlist of trailers & here's the HS Youtube playlist of trailers), free audio books, free on-line YA books, and more. Please encourage your son or daughter to take a few minutes to explore the spaces!
Thank you for a great year, everyone! Please send pictures of your family reading together or your son or daughter reading to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Twitter: @terryamaguire using the hashtag #aislreads.
Every semester I showcase the MYP student's visual artworks in the Tiyende Pamodzi Theater Gallery. This year I have done a Virtual MYP Visual Arts Exhibition. The students have produced some great work this semester and have thoughtfully written about their process so please enjoy.
Secondary Visual Arts teacher.
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:
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday: 08:00 - 15:00 / Friday: 08:00 - 13:00