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SERVICE – SUSTAINABILITY – LEADERSHIP – COLLABORATION
The Baobab Fund was established in 2013 to support student service learning projects in grades Pre-K through 12. The Baobab Fund is grounded in AISJ’s beliefs that students learn from, and are enriched by, the perspectives of others, that we have a responsibility to the community in which we live, and that meaningful service is best achieved through sustainable service partnerships. Using resources from the Baobab Fund to support their service projects, AISJ students are able to branch out into the community, build sustainable service partnerships, and work collaboratively with the people of South Africa. By developing and engaging in service projects, students develop their knowledge and understanding of local and global issues such as climate change, literacy, hunger, health, and education while also developing transdisciplinary skills to lead, collaborate, think critically, solve problems, and be ethical world contributors. Rich academic service learning projects allow AISJ students to have a positive impact on the community while also providing students with authentic and relevant experiences to transfer their skills and knowledge into new situations wherein they gain valuable understanding of the world in which they live.
Each service project the Baobab fund supports is unique as they are planned by individuals, classes, or school groups from Pre-K through Grade 12 and are designed to meet a range of community needs. However, all Baobab funds must be used for projects that engage students in active service and meet genuine community needs. Funds must be used towards a project and are never used for cash donations. The following are examples of the Baobab Fund service projects in action and demonstrate the variety of projects the fund supports.
Building Hope is a project driven by AISJ High School students who have a passion for design technology and helping others. AISJ students designed containers for musical instruments and with the support from the Baobab Fund were able to purchase timber in order to build instrument frames for the students from the Simunye Afrika Tikkun to be able to use. The Afrika Tikkun organization is an AISJ partner whose mission is to empower students with education. With instruments in hand, AISJ students have been teaching introductory music skills to the students through Simunye service activity. Simunye not only provides opportunities for local youth to explore music, it also provides valuable opportunities for AISJ and locals to connect and collaborate against the backdrop of music.
Grade 5 students at AISJ have become passionate recyclers after learning about natural resources and the environment in class. The Grade 5 classes wanted to educate the AISJ community on conserving our natural resources and encourage people in the AISJ community to recycle. The students noticed that while there were a number of recycling bins located on campus, they were not well used because it was difficult to determine which bin was designated for a particular recyclable material. Grade 5 students applied to the Baobab Fund with a proposal to improve recycling at AISJ and were granted funds to develop helpful recycling signage and educational materials. Together with their teachers and the AISJ Communications team, Grade 5 students created user friendly labels for all of the AISJ recycling bins and promoted the recycling program at school assemblies. As a result of the Grade 5 initiative and efforts, AISJ recycling bins now have graphic labels to easily identify what to recycle in each bin.
GIFT OF THE GIVERS
Gift of the Givers is a collaborative project in which Elementary, Middle School, and High School students came together to raise funds and donations to provide water for people in rural areas affected by South Africa’s severe drought. Partnering with Gift of the Givers, the largest disaster response NGO originating out of Africa, these groups were able to purchase and fill approximately 250 x 20 litter plastic water containers and deliver them to rural South African communities with support from the Baobab Fund.
BAOBAB FUND APPLICATION PROCESS
All AISJ students in Pre-K through Grade 12 are eligible for funds and are strongly encouraged to apply. Classes and student groups may also apply for funds to support their service projects.
To apply for funds, the individual, class, or group requesting funds must first complete the Baobab Fund Service Project Proposal. Proposals are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis, so there is no set deadline for proposals to be submitted.
Each proposal undergoes a review to determine if the proposal is eligible for funds and the amount of funds to be approved. High School proposals are reviewed by the Service Learning Council under the guidance of the Service Learning Divisional Representatives and the Service Learning Coordinator. Elementary and Middle School proposals are reviewed by the Service Learning Divisional Representatives and the Service Learning Coordinator in conjunction with the Faculty Supervisor and occasionally the Principal. After the first review, feedback may be given to the applicant(s) and additional details may be requested via email before funds will be approved. Generally, proposals are reviewed within 7-14 days of being submitted.
Each proposal is unique and a number of considerations are taken into account by the Service Learning team to determine the amount of funds that are granted for each proposal.
Considerations for distribution of funds:
- Is the project student driven?
- Does the project meet a community need?
- What are the expected outcomes of the project?
- How will the project be assessed?
- What resources are needed to successfully complete the project?
- Number of fund requests schoolwide
- Number of fund requests from each division (ES, MS, HS, and Pretoria) and the appropriate distribution of funds across divisions
- Distribution of funds over the school year
- Funds must be used towards a project and are never as cash donations
All funds leftover at the end of the year rollover to the following school year.
SUPPORT THE BAOBAB FUND
With the support from generous donors ranging from individuals, school organizations, and corporate donors, the Baobab Fund provides the resources necessary to continue building sustainable partnerships and making a difference in the lives of many. AISJ invites businesses and community members to join us in a collaborative effort to engage students in meaningful service projects and create sustainable partnerships with the greater community.
To contribute to the Baobab Fund, please contact the Service Learning Coordinator at email@example.com. All donations and contributions are tax deductible.
The Johannesburg and Pretoria Parent Associations are ongoing supporters of Baobab Foundation and the school recognizes their significant contributions and support of service learning at AISJ over the years.
AISJ is committed to providing scholarships to South African students who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to attend AISJ due to financial constraints. Scholarship students receive full tuition, room, and board as well as a stipend to cover basic living expenses beginning in Grade 7 and continuing through Grade 12.
The AISJ Scholarship Program began in 1993. In 2003, the Board of Directors recognized the significant positive impact the program had on both the scholarship students and the AISJ community. To ensure the program’s continuation, the Board included the Scholarship Program in AISJ’s Strategic Policies, thus protecting the Scholarship Program as part of the institution. Also at that time, AISJ began its partnership with the Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) - a non-profit trust that identifies high-potential high school students from low-income backgrounds and connects them with leading educational institutions in South Africa.
Today, a total of 17 scholarship students attend AISJ. Up to six scholarship students are admitted each year with an eye on keeping a gender balance in the program. Scholarship students begin in Grade 7 and continue through middle school and high school to earn their diploma from AISJ. They are expected to maintain a strong academic performance and participate in school activities. Scholarship students are well integrated into the AISJ community with support and guidance from teachers, counsellors, and administrators who are committed to these students being academically and socially successful.
STUDENT SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME (SSP)
AISJ continues to partner with SSP who process and screen all scholarship applications.
Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) is well into its second decade of identifying high potential young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and circumstances and affording them the opportunity to realise that potential in educational centers of excellence during their senior school years. This is achieved by a multi-tiered partnership – with generous donors, friends, and supporters; committed partner schools who co-fund and nurture the student; the dedicated staff of SSP; the child’s parents in supporting their child’s endeavours; and the most important partner, the student who must embrace the opportunity and fully invest themselves in the complete offering of these centres of excellence, our partner schools as well as availing themselves of all the assistance and mentoring that SSP provides concurrently.
In addition to the quality education and enrichment provided by our partner schools, SSP supports its students by assigning a Student Programme Officer and finding a corporate mentor for each student as well as running a parallel programme which focuses on leadership development, study skills, life skills, career guidance and assistance with applications for tertiary institutions and bursaries for further study.*Student Scholarship Programme Website; http://ssp.org.za/)
For more information on the process to be considered for a scholarship please visit http://ssp.org.za/index.php/application-process/
All scholarship students live on campus in the AISJ boarding house. A residential staff member oversees the students’ wellbeing and works with the students to develop a strong sense of community in the house. In the early days of the Scholarship Program, housing was provided at two different locations – the boys lived in the original boarding house on campus and the girls lived in another house near campus. After expanding the original house, the two groups were consolidated in 2007. The current boarding house was renovated in the winter of 2016 and there are plans for a new, expanded boarding house to be built in the coming years.
SUPPORT THE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
AISJ strives to provide scholarship students with a world-class education and extracurricular experiences. Students at AISJ can choose to participate in wide variety opportunities across the Four Pillars - Academics, Athletics, the Arts, and Service Learning. While AISJ makes strong efforts to ensure that scholarship students are afforded the same opportunities as all AISJ students, these students can be limited by extra costs not covered by their scholarship.
AISJ welcomes gifts to the Scholarship Program from the AISJ community and outside donors who would like to help maximize scholarship students’ experiences and opportunities at AISJ. Choose how you would like to support the Scholarship Program:
- Sponsor a scholarship student - Your contributions will help a scholarship student with items such as clothing, school supplies, art materials, and athletic gear or will support their participation in field trips like the Global Issues Service Summit or international music conferences and sports tournaments.
- Give towards the new scholarship house - The new scholarship house will serve students by providing a comfortable, welcoming space conducive for students to learn, live together in a tight-knit community, and make big plans for their future. The scholarship house is expected to cost upwards of 30 million Rand and will allow the Scholarship Program to continue increasing its capacity and services.
- Donate to support the day to day operation of the Scholarship Program
To contribute to the Scholarship Program, please contact Elize Ramsay - Finance Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations and contributions are tax deductible.
Thulani Mbatha, Class of 1998
After graduating from AISJ in 1998, Thulani earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Berea College and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Tennessee. Thulani is now an international public health consultant. In 2011, Thulani relocated back to South Africa with his family to establish Kgololo Academy, a college preparatory school in his home in the Alexandra Township.
“My experience at AISJ as a scholarship student from Alexandra Township provided me with a strong foundation and changed the trajectory of my life. I can only hope that Kgololo Academy is able to do the same for our scholars”.
Jo Matake, Class of 2008
Jo Matake, Class of 2008, was the first AISJ/SSP student to receive a scholarship to study at a university in the United States where he continued to further his education and earn a Master’s Degree.
Busi Sibeko, Class of 2012
Busi Sibeko is an AISJ graduate of the class of 2012 and a former scholarship student. Busi came to AISJ half way through grade 7 from Tersia Learning Academy in Tembisa. She chaired 2012 Global Issues Service Summit hosted at AISJ for students from across Africa. This young leader captained the volleyball and basketball teams. Upon graduation, Busi was selected as a recipient for the Female Athlete of the Year, Ed Norman Leadership Award, Principal’s Award. One of Busi’s greatest achievements in high school was successfully summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro with the AISJ team. Busi graduated from AISJ with an International Baccalaureate diploma and a scholarship opportunity to attend Duke University in the United States.
Busi recently graduated as a part of the inaugural MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program class at Duke. With a strong interest in development economics, she obtained a BS Economics degree. During her undergraduate career, Busi’s passion for Africa lead to a semester abroad at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, UK. While at Duke she co-founded an organization called the Africa Conversations Club(ACC). The mission of ACC is to facilitate regular discourse amongst Duke undergraduates surrounding the social, political, and economic climate on the African Continent, through roundtable discussions. She recently spoke at AFRIx, a Tedx inspired event at Duke, on (De)constructing the African identity. Busi has interned for Advanced Capital, the Mandela Institute of Development Studies and most recently KPMG, all in Johannesburg, South Africa. Busi will be joining KPMG South Africa this fall, and she hopes to pursue a masters in development at SOAS. Her ultimate career aspiration is to create economic policies in South Africa that tackle the issues of the working poor.
Bonolo Ntlatleng, Class of 2013
My name is Bonolo Ntlatleng. I was a full International Baccalaureate diploma candidate at the American International School of Johannesburg in 2012-2013, and graduated in May 2013. I am 22 years old and live in Rabie Ridge, a township in Midrand, Johannesburg. With the assistance of the Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP), I had the privilege of attending one of the top schools in South Africa, the American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ). The procedure and selection process of attaining this full academic scholarship to go to AISJ was rigorous. Out of a total of 4000 applicants to the scholarship, only 77 were successful, and I was one of them. Being at AISJ truly unlocked my potential and made me realise that the world is my oyster. To this day, I speak of AISJ with immense honour and pride. Its diversity allowed me to travel to different parts of the world through mere conversations. Its extra-curricular program allowed me to fulfil my purpose and love for service to others. Its focus on learners individually made me feel valued as a student, which was something I did not have the privilege to experience prior to my time at AISJ. I was not just a number on that campus, I was Bonolo Ntlatleng. Moreover, its loving, considerate and diverse staff constantly affirmed my dreams and spent time reminding me of my ability to achieve them. It is for this reason that I continue to cite my experience at AISJ as my defining moment. It is here where I discovered my passions. Realised that my dreams are valid. Got to travel to different parts of the world for the first time, and realised that was okay to be crazy enough to think I can change the world. Today, I am a final year student at the University of Cape Town studying a Bachelor of Social Science in International Relations, Politics, and Economics. I am recipient of the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship. I am an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Candidate Fellow. I am a Resident Assistant at the Council on International Educational Exchange. I am all of these things and more because of SSP and AISJ’s investment in me. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
Zwelakhe Bhengu, Class of 2013
Zwelakhe Bhengu is an AISJ alumnus from the graduating class of 2013. Zwelakhe first heard of the Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) scholarship opportunity through a classmate of his during his tenure as a primary school student at Meredale Primary School in the south of Johannesburg. Upon submitting an application, he was subsequently invited to partake in an exigent series of aptitude exams and interviews and recieved an offer to complete his primary and secondary school studies at the American International School of Johannesburg.
Having been afforded the opportunity to study at such a prestigious academic institution, Zwelakhe exploited all the offered resources that had been availed to him in order to further develop himself as a student and global citizen. During his tenure at the American International School of Johannesburg, Zwelakhe’s achievements included participating in several Johannesburg Model United Nations conferences, captaining the boys’ varsity volleyball team, and receiving the Male Athlete of the Year award during his senior year.
Zwelakhe graduated from AISJ with High Honors and currently is in his final year of the Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting Sciences Degree at the University of Pretoria with aims of qualifying for the prestigious Chartered Accountant of South Africa, CA(SA) designation. He is also signed to complete his Auditing clerk articles at Price Waterhouse Coopers, an accounting and auditing firm. Zwelakhe lists the scholarship opportunity to study at the American International School of Johannesburg as the most important inflexion point to date in his pursuit of academic and economic success.
The role of the Board of Directors at AISJ is a strategic one. The primary functions of the Board are:
- Long term sustainability
- Setting the mission, vision and core beliefs, strategic goals and measurable outcomes for the school
- Hiring, retention and annual evaluation of the School Director, thus ensuring a quality educational program
- Ensuring long-term financial health approving tuition fees and the annual budget.
Board members apply their time and skills for the long-term benefit of the whole school, and do not represent a particular issue, nationality, group or constituency. The Board plans for and attends monthly general business meetings, committee meetings, informational meetings, and one retreat per year focused on Board development and annual planning. Board Directors are also expected to attend important school events. The average number of hours per month varies per individual, but certainly, an average of ten hours per month is a conservative estimate.
The Board has a hybrid structure and is comprised of elected, appointed and seconded members. Elections are held in March.
Board Committee Member
The Board of Directors conducts the majority of its role through three standing committees: Finance, Facilities, and Governance. The Board of Directors appoints non-Board Directors with expertise in each of these areas to serve as members on the Board Committees.
The primary function of the committees is to assist the Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities with respect to the following:
- Ensuring the overall, long-term financial health of the school
- Monitoring strategic and financial planning to ensure the availability of adequate resources
- Reviewing and approving the school’s annual operating budget
- Establishing general risk management policies, and provide for adequate insurance coverage
- Ensuring the reliability and integrity of all financial information and related disclosures provided to internal and external parties and other stakeholders
- Ensuring the qualifications, independence, and performance of the school’s outside auditors
- Ensuring the school’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements related to the financial reporting responsibilities of the school
- Reviewing and evaluating on an on-going basis the governance structure of the school and its overall effectiveness, ensuring compliance with South African law, and in light of prevailing best practices in the international educational field
- Recruitment of new Directors who bring diverse backgrounds, talents and perspectives to the Board
- Evaluation of the governance practices and performance of the Board, its Committees, and individual Directors
- Ensuring responsible succession of Board officers and Committee chairs
- Orientation and training for Directors
- Ensuring adequate facilities are in place to deliver the program in a manner that is consistent with the school’s Vision and Mission
- Ensuring the overall, long-term health of the school’s grounds, buildings and infrastructure including but not limited to electricity, water, and technology
- Monitoring strategic and financial planning to ensure the availability of adequate resources to achieve the above
SERVICE LEARNING VOLUNTEER
AISJ is committed to providing students with a balanced educational program. By balanced we are referring to the four pillars: Academics, Athletics, Arts, and Service. We believe that an understanding and commitment to Service Learning is critical and as such, it has to be an integral part of what we do. Our service learning program provides students and community members with opportunities to enrich the lives of others and leadership opportunities to genuinely make a difference. Service Learning is organized by grade level. Service learning projects are chosen to complement different aspects of the academic curriculum. Service learning has an authentic link with the curriculum and should be something that a class is engaged in throughout the school year. Service Learning may focus on contributing to the school community or to part of the wider community through actions such as; Direct, Indirect, Advocacy or Research.
Service Learning Volunteers assist in service activities and events based on interest in student age group/division or service activities on offer.
The Parent Association (PA) provides a structure for parents to become involved in, and enhance, the AISJ community experience, as well as support the School’s Mission and Vision. AISJ believes that a vibrant Parents' Association contributes to the health of the school.
Parent Association Objectives:
- To enhance the sense of the AISJ community
- To develop and nurture a relationship amongst parents and between parents and the School
- To provide assistance to families with regard to the AISJ and South African communities at large
The Johannesburg and Pretoria Campuses each have an active Parents' Association run by committed parent volunteers. Monthly meets are held to share information, collect feedback, and provide assistance and support. By having a child at AISJ, you are automatically a member of the PA. You are invited to attend monthly PA meetings and to support the myriad events the PA hosts each year.
Examples of PA-sponsored events:
- Welcome Coffee Mornings – The PA's on both campuses welcome new and returning parents for coffee, tea, and an opportunity to connect with one another.
- International Food Festival – The PA hosts an impressive buffet of foods from around the world at International Day. Parents cook enough food from their home country to feed the entire school!
- Halloween “Boo in the Boot” (Pretoria) – The PA organizes a Halloween parade and carnival and families decorate their cars in the Pretoria car park for a unique trick-or-treat experience for the kids.
- Thanksgiving Turkey Trot (Pretoria) – The PA assists with Pretoria’s annual Thanksgiving festivities including fun runs for the kids, followed by Thanksgiving dinner and international desserts.
- Mistletoe Marketplace (Johannesburg) – A fabulous Christmas Market with over 50 craft and food vendors.
- Family Fun Day (Johannesburg) – An all-day family event with food vendors, rides and inflatables for the kids, and an international basket auction.
- Yard Sale (Pretoria) – The PA organizes a popular yard sale towards the end of the school year.
Each year the Parent Association seeks parents to fill the following roles:
- Secretary and Communications Coordinator
- Social Coordinator
- Welcome Coordinator
- Elementary School Coordinator
- Middle School Coordinator
- High School Coordinator (Johannesburg)
- Eagle Shop Coordinator
- Country Ambassadors
- Environmental / Service Learning Coordinator
A Room Parent is the lead volunteer of the classroom – a bridge between the teacher and other parents. The role of the Room Parent includes:
- Serving as a contact point for other class parents and the teacher
- Making early contact with parents of new students in the class
- Providing support to new families as necessary
- Liaising with the teacher when s/he needs help in the classroom and helps to organize parent volunteers
- Arranging social gatherings to introduce new families to the group
- Attending monthly PA meetings
- Working with the Elementary School Coordinator to liaise between the PA and classroom parents
- Organizing special events or celebrations in the classroom throughout the year
Please inquire with your child’s teacher if you are interested in serving as a Room Parent.