News Post

MS Principal Weekly Update September 13th, 2019
MS Principal Weekly Update September 13th, 2019

September 13, 2019

Dear Parents,

Thank you for reading this week's news from the Middle School. While we continue to send this weekly update to you via email, please note that as of next Friday, September 20th, we will no longer be sending this newsletter via a direct email. We urge all parents to please sign up for the JHB MS News Alerts so that you will continue to receive the weekly news from the Middle School. By signing up for JHB MS News Alerts, you will receive the weekly update directly. Please click here for how to sign up for this service.   Do let us know if you have any questions about signing up for alerts prior to September 20th.

We have had a productive week of learning. I have enjoyed my visits to classrooms this week and some highlights included:

  • Observing 6th grade scientists learning about variables and controls as they study what makes a valid experiment.
  • Giving a book talk to 6th grade students in Language Arts. I was given the challenge from Mr. Kader to talk to students about my all-time favorite book, which is a very tough question. It's The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.
  • Watching 8th grade mathematicians learn about understand the importance of growth mindset and developing strategies to push through when math concepts are difficult.
  • I also got to play Whiffle Ball, a classic backyard game of my youth, with 8th graders during our Friday morning wellness sessions. So much fun!

Another highlight of the week was our work with visiting consultant, Paul Bloomberg. Paul worked with teachers across all divisions, but his focus for our Middle School was supporting us in our goal of collective efficacy through peer observations and coaching. Paul also reinforced the need for schools to focus intently on social/emotional learning as it relates to helping our students understand the importance of dispositions as they relate to their success as learners.   It has been a great week with Paul.

(MAP) Testing. This week's final MAP assessment will be Reading and will take place on September 18th. Students will take MAP tests during the school day and your child will take the assessments on their computer. If your child is absent on the day they are meant to take a test, there will be make-up sessions scheduled.

Reports from the Hilton Arts Festival are that the fourteen students and teachers attending are having a terrific experience at this famous festival. They departed on Thursday morning and will return to Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. Safe travels to the group and a big thanks to Mrs. Willis for organizing this trip and thanks to Mr. Hart for accompanying the students to Hilton.

The Student Council has started selling topes for the annual Sunflower Day; a fund-raising initiative by an organization called 'The Sunflower Fund.' This organization has the primary objective of raising awareness about leukaemia, to motivate people to register themselves as bone marrow donors. Throughout next week, there will be opportunities for students to learn more about the Sunflower Fund. Then, up until September 19th, students will be able purchase one or more topes to wear on September 20th. The topes will be sold for R30 around the Middle School during lunchtime and all proceeds go towards supporting the Sunflower Fund to find bone marrow matches for people with leukaemia. We hope that 100% of our Middle School students and staff will support this worthy cause

Looking ahead to next week, the highlight will be Friday, September 20th when we will celebrate Heritage Day at AISJ. Heritage Day is an important day in the South African calendar because it commemorates and celebrates the diversity of the cultures and the beliefs and traditions of the South African people. On this day, people are reminded of the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make and have contributed to help create the idea of a "Rainbow Nation". This event is a coming together, a celebration and an acknowledgement of the South African people who work and serve in our community, and for the people in our community who contribute to the beauty and love we all have for our host country, South African.   Heritage Day celebrations also coincide with our annual ArtsFest, a school-wide celebration of the arts. Art connects us to culture, so the coupling of Heritage Day and ArtsFest is meaningful.   Please join us for a celebration on the Main Field at 7:45 a.m. on the morning of September 20th. We ask you join in the celebration by wearing traditional South African clothes, or any branded South African clothing, or, perhaps, donning the colors of the South African flag. 

Finally, I wish good luck to all of our student athletes participating in the JHB-PTA sports exchange on Saturday. Members of our basketball teams and Junior track and field teams will be competing against their classmates from our Pretoria campus. It should be a good morning of sport and camaraderie. Good luck as well to our 8th graders on the Senior Track & Field team, who will also be competing on Saturday.

I wish all of you a great weekend.  Thank you for your support of the Middle School.


Andy Ferguson


Please note Monday the 23rd of September is NOT a school holiday? We will run a normal school day on the 23rd. The 24th is a South African public holiday, and school will be closed on the 24th.


Dear Parents,

The AISJ Divisional Counselors would like to offer several Parent Workshops throughout the year, as well as possibly reviving their AISJ Counselors Podcast. They would like to know what you as parents want to find out more about in order to keep your children happy, healthy and productive learners. Please take a few minutes to answer this survey. Your answers will help to guide the counselors in offering the most relevant workshops and podcasts to our AISJ Parent Population:

If you missed last year's Counselor Podcasts, follow the link below to listen to the episodes around  "Fostering External and Internal Assets in Our Students"

Podcast on Pod bean:

Thank you,

AISJ Counselors 


Increase in Insurance Deductible for Damage to Technology Equipment

Every annum, AISJ, and most organizations in South Africa need to renegotiate its insurance policies. This year is no different.

Due to the high number of technology equipment related insurance claims last year, primarily for cracked screens on Apple MacBook laptops, the deductible for insurance claims for any damage to school-owned technology equipment such as laptops, computers, iPads and digital still and video cameras has increased from R1000.00 per instance to R2 500.00 per instance, as of immediate effective.

The relevant information on the AISJ website – Tech Portal has been updated as follows:

Employees will be required to contribute to the cost of repairing/replacing technology devices assigned to them if damaged, lost, or stolen, according to the table below:


First Incident

Second Incident

Third Incident

Accidental damage

R2 500.00 or the cost of repair, whichever is less.

R2 500.00 or the cost of repair, whichever is less.

100% cost of repair.

The device is lost or stolen

R2 500.00

R2 500.00

100% cost of replacement

AISJ supplied technology device chargers may not be covered under warranty or insurance where physical damage has occurred. Tech Service Center staff will assess each case on its merits. In the event, the damage is not covered under warranty or insurance, parents or employees will be required to contribute to the replacement of the charger according to the table above.


Middle School Classroom Without Walls (CWW)

Excitement will soon be building for the upcoming Classroom Without Walls (CWW) trips. These annual, experiential learning expeditions will take place during the week of October 28 – November 1 for 8th grade and November 4 – 8 for 6th and 7th graders.   Parents will want to mark their calendars for the CWW Parent Meetings. Teachers in charge of leading the grade level CWW trips will provide more information at these sessions.   This year, we will be conducting two sessions – a combined 6th and 7th grade session as they are going to the same camp venue and a separate 8th grade session. The information sessions will be as follows:

Monday, September 23

Grade 6 & 7 CWW Parent Information Meeting from 9:00 a.m. in the Library

Monday, September 30

Grade 8CWW Parent Information Meeting from 9:00 a.m. in the Library

JHB Middle School Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences – Wednesday, October 2nd

Parent-Teacher conferences will take place on Wednesday, October 2nd. While there is no school for students on Wednesday, to help our students become familiar with discussing their learning with parents and teachers we request that students to attend the conferences during the time with their parents.

In the Middle School we run an "Arena Style" conference format. All teachers will be set up in Gould's Gym and parents are invited to the school during the block of time based on their surname (listed below). Each conference is meant to last between 5 and 7 minutes. In order to assure that all parents have an opportunity to meet with their child's teachers we kindly ask that parents and teachers adhere to the timings provided.





Session One

October 2

7:30 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.

A - G

9:20 am – 9:40 am - Break for Teachers

Session Two

October 2

9:40 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

H - L

11:30 a.m. to 12:15 pm - Lunch for Teachers

Session Three

October 2

12:15 p.m. to 2:05 p.m.

M - P

2:05 pm to 2:20 pm – Break for Teachers

Session Four

October 2

2:20 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Q - Z


The Grade 7's are exploring natural disasters and how scientists help us predict and reduce damage caused.  If any parents are architect or structural engineers or are knowledgeable in the area and would like to come and share how buildings are designed and built to withstand natural disasters with our students, please contact Ms Robyn Wood (



Senior Swim Team: as Mr. Goetz has already shared with students and has been communicated via the MSN, all Grade 8 Senior Swim Team candidates must attend time trials this afternoon. Having attended this afternoon, a swimmer may then return on September 20th and 27th to try for an improved time.

Co-Curricular Activities: it's not just faculty members who can offer a CCA; parents can offer a CCA, too! If you're passionate about an activity and would like to share your passion with students, please let us know – we'd love to have you! If you're interested in running an activity, please email me ( or contact the Activities Office directly (


Season 2 CCA Sponsors: You might not know it, but the faculty has already started to register to sponsor Season 2 Co-Curricular Activities. From my initial conversations with colleagues, it sounds like Season 2 is going to have a slew of diverse and exciting options covering a range of interests. Let's give a BIG shout-out to all of these teachers who are going above and beyond for the benefit of our students' experience.

Hilton Arts Fest: When I first arrived to AISJ in 2015, there was almost no Drama program to speak of. Now, it's one of the Middle School's most popular programs, so it's not a surprise that this trip to Hilton is also one of the Middle School's most sought-after trips. Shout-out to the young thespians who are enjoying a wonderful weekend of learning away from AISJ.

Track and Field athletes: With a record number of 6th and 7th graders participating in Track and Field, in addition to a talented batch of 8th graders, I just want to give a massive shout-out to these student-athletes as they prepare for their first meet of the year next week. Having attended a few practices, I can tell you that this group of runners, jumpers, and throwers is going to do the AISJ Middle School proud.

Important Dates:

September 12th – 14th



Hilton Arts Festival


September 16th



ISSA MS Basketball Tournament documents and payment due

September 17th


Christ Church

Sr. Track and Field meet*


September 18th



Sr. Track and Field meet


September 18th


Pinnacle College

Jr. Track and Field meet


September 20th



Payment due for Sr. Track and Field Waterford Meet


September 22nd – 28th



World Scholars Cup


September 25th


Summerhill College

Jr. Track and Field meet


September 26th – 28th





September 27th


MS Amphitheatre

MS House Event


September 27th – 29th


International School of South Africa

ISSA A Team Basketball Tournament

October 2nd


Kings College

Jr. Track and Field meet


October 4th – 6th


Mbabane, Swaziland

Senior Track and Field Waterford Invitational


*For field events only (jumps and throws)

Bus Schedule


The schedule is a live document containing all information regarding MS Basketball and Jr./Sr. Track and Field. Since this is a live document, I will include this link every week. I encourage you to check it every week, as well, so that you are up-to-date on exactly when and where practices, matches, and meets are being held.

Activities Note:

Our Activities program encompasses a wide-range of interests, passions, and expertise. From the Elementary School all the way up to the High School, students have options and opportunities that appeal to the visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, and social learner. While we have a multi-talented faculty, at a medium-size school such as ours, it's not logistically practical for us to staff our programs entirely with faculty members. For this reason, we tap into the talents of our local community to bring adjunct teachers and coaches onto campus.

Whether it's Chess, Basketball, or Parkour, the AISJ community is reliant on outside hires to round out our CCA program. I'm certain that nothing I'm sharing is revelatory. In fact, I'm certain that this is all quite logical. However, I do think there are times when we forget just how demanding and underappreciated the role of adjunct can be.

For a number of years, our weight room existed as a sort of informal space. At its worst, it would be used as a lounge for high schoolers waiting for the busses. Over the past year, however, the weight room culture has changed. Stella has taken charge of the weight room and has transformed the way high schoolers interact with the space. As an elite athlete and personal trainer, Stella has brought her brand of fitness to the weight room, supporting and challenging students to meet their individual goals. Stella comes to campus for 90 minutes every day and puts her heart into what she does. And yet, for these 90 minutes of work, her commute consists of multiple taxis and takes more than two hours.

Another example is Kevin and Fadzai, both of whom have coached at AISJ for a number of years and have also served as substitute teachers across division. In their tenure with AISJ, they have established strong and lasting relationships with students, emphasizing character-building in the classroom and on the court. In one capacity or another, they are here nearly every day, even though their car has been in the shop since the start of the school year and they have a baby at home.

Colin, Mtha, and Tuli, our Volleyball coaches, finally returned to practice yesterday after some time away from AISJ. This wasn't by choice. These three coaches live in town and have not been able to get to AISJ due to the violent eruptions in recent weeks. Even in the face of this violence, they wrote to David to ask permission to miss practice, as they would've loved to have been there.

These are only a few examples meant to highlight just how committed this batch of adults are to our making sure that our students have the best possible CCA experience possible. And yet, I think we are all guilty sometimes of forgetting just how fortunate we are to have them with us. I would ask that we all step back, really consider what they go through to be here every day, and maybe take a minute to go out of our way to say thank you to these coaches and teachers.

Zak Cohen

Middle School Activities Coordinator 

Other Important Dates and Events for the Months of September and October

September 12 - 15

Hilton Arts Festival

September 20

Heritage Day & ArtsFest – No regular classes

September 23 – 27

World Scholars' Cup in Durban

September 23

Grade 6 & & CWW Parent Information Session @ 9:00 a.m. in the Library

September 24

School Holiday – Heritage Day

September 26 – 29


September 30

Grade 8 CWW Parent Information Session @ 9:00 a.m. in the Library

October 2

Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences

October 4

Drama Showcase @ 1:30 p.m. in the Theater

October 11

International Day

October 12 – 21

School Holidays

October 28 – November 1

Grade 8 Classroom Without Walls – Sugar Bay