Eight years ago we packed up our family of four and our ridgeback, Hector, and headed to AISL in beautiful Zambia. Our twins were two and a half years old when we arrived, and would get so tired from the long trek across campus that we would haul them around in a wooden red wagon. We’d visit Angelique’s vegetable market every Friday morning by the old tuck shop area (which had about four different pavement levels, I know because the wagon wheels were forever getting caught) and pile loads of beautiful fresh produce on the laps of our twins. The trip down to the Zambezi over Leopard’s Hill Road would take a solid four hours and one would never think of setting off without a heap of recovery gear and often only with a second vehicle in the convoy.
Eight years later, Ben is nearly eye level with Terry, the trip to the river takes only a couple hours and will soon be paved, the kwacha has slid from 6 to the dollar to 22, Hector has passed and now we have Shumba the ridgeback along with Cora’s four rabbits, and much of the campus is entirely new! So much life, learning, change, and growth has happened in these past eight years! We are forever grateful that our children have grown up in such a warm-hearted, peaceful, and spectacular country. It has shaped them in ways we are just beginning to appreciate, but among those ways are an understanding of how important it is to fully greet a person every time you see them, a commitment to stewardship for the wildlife of this planet, and a desire to grapple with real-world problems with the belief that there is yet time to solve some of them.
To the teachers, teaching assistants, and coaches who have worked with our children, we know that they have been blessed with a world-class education and that they are thriving young persons with thanks, in great part, to the holistic and nurturing experience they have had at AISL with you. Whether in person or during distance learning (or hybrid!) you always provided outstanding learning opportunities for our children and all your students. We could never thank you enough.
To our colleagues, we could not have weathered a pandemic with a finer team of professionals. Your dedication and resilience are both awe-inspiring and humbling. You have helped us to grow personally and professionally. We are proud of the way we have developed all our programs together. Our students are deeply fortunate to learn with you every day and we will miss working with you.
To our AISL families, teaching your children has been a true privilege. They are empathic, inquisitive, and kind. They undoubtedly teach us more than we could ever teach them. We hope that we have helped to support and encourage them in their own learning journeys.
Our family has a motto that we often repeat around the dinner table, which is “leave it better than you found it.” This applies to everything: a place, a task, a relationship. We hope that we have honored all the hard work of the people who have come before us at AISL, and that we leave the school in a better place both for those who remain and for those who will come after us to continue its story. It has been a privilege to serve this community, and we will forever hold the Leopard spirit in our hearts.
As we wrap up the 2020-21 academic year, I wish to thank the entire community for their support of our COVID-19 mitigation measures. From the beginning, we set the goal of trying to offer as much face-to-face learning as we could safely manage. I am very pleased with our success, particularly when compared to other schools around the world.
First and foremost, I am very proud that we have not found a single case of on-campus transmission of the virus. This is evidence that our mitigation measures – when faithfully applied – discourage the spread of the virus. Many thanks to our staff and students for their diligent enforcement of these measures.
Second, I am thrilled that we have been able to maintain a largely on-campus educational experience for our students. There were certainly times when we had to close the campus entirely, either because of government decree or because we felt that the level of community transmission was too high to open safely. There were also a few times when we had to move certain grade levels or parts of grade levels to distance learning temporarily, but luckily, those instances were relatively rare. Overall, even our most affected grade levels were still able to be on campus for about 75% of the school year. Some grade levels were on campus for as much as 85%. Given that there are schools in some parts of the world that still have not reopened their campuses, I believe that we have fared quite well.
I feel strongly that the reason for this level of success is that we made our decisions based on the data that we had and the scientific research that was available. We disciplined ourselves not to be driven by fear and emotions, as tempting as it was at times. This is a credit to the team.
And speaking of the team, there many people who I wish to recognize for their part in managing our school’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
The school has been very lucky to have all these caring and dedicated individuals working to keep us all safe and healthy. Thanks to their hard work, I believe that AISL managed to weather the pandemic quite well this year. Please join me in thanking them all for their hard work!
The first day of school for the 2021-22 School Year will be Monday, 9 August. It is also a busy week for Zambia with national elections scheduled for Thursday, 12 August. While vaccinations have begun in Zambia, COVID-19 remains an unpredictable variable that can still affect campus operations in August.
AISL’s current plans assume no campus closure due to the election (except 12 August, which is a public holiday) and no significant, negative change to the COVID-19 cases. Therefore, we plan to open using Learning Path 1 (on-campus learning). Learning Path 3 (asynchronous distance learning) will be available for a limited time for families who need it. Please communicate directly with the principals to discuss Learning Path 3. If either the COVID-19 or election situation requires that we close our campus, we will pivot to Learning Path 2 (synchronous distance learning) for as short a time as possible. We will remain in close contact with health and security experts across the school holiday to monitor both the COVID-19 and election situations and will notify you of any changes to these plans.
Since we cannot predict the COVID-19 situation in August, we plan to start the school year with the same health and safety protocols in place. Masking, distancing and post-travel quarantines will remain in effect. Therefore, if you will be traveling internationally during the school break and wish to have your child begin the school year on campus, please remember to allow time to follow our quarantine requirements. Although they are reviewed regularly, our current post-international travel quarantine rules are below. If there are any changes, we will be sure to announce them as soon as possible.
Post-international travel quarantine requirements (the day you arrive in Zambia is considered Day 1):
· For families with any unvaccinated members:
o Quarantine for ten days and come to campus on Day 11 without the need for testing. This would require arriving on 30 July or earlier in order for your child to come on campus on 9 August without testing.
· Quarantine for seven days and get a PCR or rapid test on Days 3-5. If that result is negative, then share the result with nurse Jennifer and return to campus on Day 8. This would require arriving in Zambia on 2 August or earlier in order for your child to come on campus on 9 August.
· For families where all members are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the final dose):
Please note: Zambian health regulations will supersede our school policies for those individuals who may need to quarantine for longer periods of time.
Despite some re-arranging and additional obstacles, we managed to mark the transition for G5NC from Primary to Middle School in this morning's Transition Ceremony. Thank you to all of the students and families who made this opportunity possible. I know how much it meant to the students and we are grateful that we were able to mark this milestone in person.
As the year draws to a close, you'll be amazed at how much of your child's work has been accumulating on Seesaw. If you are leaving AISL or just want a record of all the amazing work from this year, please follow these step by step instructions.
N.B. Seesaw advises that you use a computer and a Chrome or Firefox browser only, the .zip file will not download on a mobile or tablet device
Across this week students in Mr. Dobson's MYP Science classes engaged in a variety of challenging science puzzles designed to help them review content while also having a blast. In MYP Grade 8 Science, students worked to crack cipher codes. Earlier in the week, they played a Breakout game called "A Game of Moles" to review atomic measurement and related concepts. in MYP Grade 10 Science, students played the Breakout gamed called "A Day at the Beach" to review concepts related to waves and electromagnetic radiation. In the Breakout games, students solve content-related questions and problems that generate codes. Each code, in turn, relates to a combination specific to each type of lock on the Breakout box. Gamifying content is a fantastic way to make learning exciting and fun!
Photos M. Dobson
More than ten grade six students joined in a Book Picnic this past Monday. On the beautiful new lawn by the theatre (that used to be a parking lot!), students stretched out on picnic blankets and took turns sharing with each other books they are currently reading, as well as other titles they have read and would recommend. The students brought some individually wrapped snacks to share and enjoyed the warm sunshine and each other's company. It is a delight to see so much passion for books in an era when many different products compete for one's attention.
Photos T. Maguire
The votes were tallied and we just announced the winning titles for this year's Leopard's Paw MS Book Award and the Leopard's Eye HS Book Award. The titles were chosen from among the most popular Project Lit titles students were reading this year. Our overwhelming middle school favorite was Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, a work of realistic / historic fiction with a bit of magical realism. The novel explores systemic racism and the power of forgiveness. Our high school favorite was Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. This novel-in-verse is based on Salaam's actual experience of being wrongfully incarcerated following an assault. The 2019 Netflix miniseries drama "When They See Us" is based on Salaam's (and the other young men incarcerated with him) experiences. You may want to add these titles to your TBR (To Be Read) list!
One of the best parts of a long break is the opportunity to delve into some outstanding reads or audio listening! If you are looking for some excellent suggestions, please check out some of the recommendations on this Secondary Library Holiday Learning libguide (password is the same as for the parent portal). Some of the content on here is also AISL student-created!
For adult works, some of my go-tos are New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults (they have scores of other lists you can explore!), the NYT column "What to Read Now," and for listening NPR's Book Concierge for fantastic reviews and recommendations.
Wishing you a marvelous holiday! Stay well, stay safe, and keep reading!
Image credit NYPL
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: