News Post

MS Weekly Principal Update 27 September, 2019

September 27, 2019

Dear Parents,

Thank you for reading this week’s Middle school update. We have had another excellent week of learning. I trust that everyone enjoyed the mid-week break and Heritage Day holiday. It was nice to have a day off to rest, recharge, and of course, braai.

Today, we welcomed back our World Scholars students who competed in the World Scholars Cup mini-global round competition in Durban.   The students performed exceptionally well in all of the academic games and I am so proud of them and their accomplishments. All teams qualified for the Tournament of Champions at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in November. The junior team of Kate Ahn, Diego Gutierrez, and Ava Serna finished first overall.   The senior team of Sydney Tucker, Irene Sung, and Max de Castro finished fourth overall. Kate Ahn won and individual award for the best junior at the competition! The AISJ teams, comprised of 12 students, competed against over 750 students and 250 teams and through their combined efforts they walked away with 19 team and individual trophies and over 70 gold and silver medals. Just amazing results.  Again, well done to the our AISJ World Scholars and thank you again to their coaches, Mr. Kader and Ms. Moreau. Hard work and preparation truly do pay off.

AISJ World Scholars Team:

9th graders:      Max de Castro, Diego Gutierrez, Ava Serna, Irene Sung, Sydney Tucker

8th graders:      Kate Ahn, Lua Kurtenbach, Bernice Mendes, Anika Mittal, John Verga

7th graders:      Zac de Castro, Jason Whaley

Twenty-one students and their coaches, including Mr. Cohen, departed today for Mahikeng to compete in the International Schools of South Africa basketball tournament. They will be in games throughout the weekend and return to Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon.   Good luck to our AISJ Eagles.

Looking ahead to next week:

On Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. we will host the Grade 8 Classroom Without Walls (CWW) parent information session. This will take place in the Middle School Library.   A reminder to all parents, grade 6 – 8, to please complete the CWW permission forms in PowerSchool by Friday, October 4th.   This is vital information needed to prepare for these upcoming trips.   Please let know if you need support completing the forms. Thank you for your prompt attention to this.

Information pertaining to all CWW trips can be found on the front page of the Middle School portal on Finalsite. By accessing the links below, parents will find copies of the presentations and any documents related to or required for the trips. The links are here:

Grade 6 & 7 CWW Nov 4th- Nov 8th 2019

Grade 8 CWW Oct 28th – Nov 1st 2019

Tuesday evening the AISJ Board of Directors will host their annual Community Information Session. This is chance to meet and hear from the Board, learn more about the AISJ’s Annual Report, and ask questions. We hope to see you there on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in Teaching & Learning.

As has been announced on Wednesday we will host our first set of Parent Teacher ConferencesWhile 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.

In preparation for these conversations with your child’s teachers, I share some advice from Dr. Michael Thompson. Dr. Thompson is the author of several books and is also a renowned consultant and has worked with many international schools over the years. In one of the workshops he conducts on the topic of promoting successful parent/teacher conferences, Dr. Thompson addresses the various sources of concerns between parents and teachers with respect to parent conferences and offers a variety of tips for creating successful conferences. I hope that sharing this will be useful “food for thought” for both parents and teachers alike. I think this is a really good article.

I think that Dr. Thompson’s points for consideration are valid and, taken into consideration by teachers and parents alike, can help yield the desired result of productive parent/teacher conferences for all involved.   The shared conversations between parents, teachers, and students are absolutely “essential” and we work together in partnership to help our students and your children be the successful learners and people that we know each of them is capable of being.

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


Andy Ferguson



Joint Book Launch of This Messy Mobile Life: How a MOLA can help globally mobile families create a Life by Design. Please join Santa Fe Relocation and Mariam Ottimofiore in an intimate session to discuss how This Messy Mobile Life can be an integral tool in helping families acclimate and flourish in their global mobile lives.   

Date: Thurs, 3 Oct, 2019

Time: 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Location:  American International School, Johannesburg Campus

The book will also be available, on a cash basis at the launch and Mariam will be delighted to sign a copy for you.

This Messy Mobile Life helps global families make sense and order of their colorful yet messy lives.  A combination of personal reflection, expert advice from several globally recognized subject matter experts and practical exercises guide you effortlessly through what can often be an overwhelming experience to find one’s footing in a new country. 

The learning in this book supports HR and global mobility specialists, international schools and bilingual/multilingual educators in providing assistance to help international families thrive. It is exciting to see how this book compliments Santa Fe Relocation’s audience and values. This relevant insight helps to drive employee engagement and enhance employee experience acquired from international work assignments. 

Mariam Navaid Ottimofiore is a Pakistani expat author, writer, researcher and economist. When she was 19 years old, she left her home in Karachi with a blue suitcase and a one-way ticket to Boston. She has lived in nine countries as an expat child and an expat adult: The Kingdom of Bahrain, the United States, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Ghana. 17 years and four continents later, her life on the move is messy.  Mariam shares her survey-based research, insight and creative tools to help guide expatriates living in a multicultural home and setting.

Parent Workshop: Language Proficiency in the International School Setting:

What Parents Needs to Know and Do

Wednesday, October 9th from 8am -10 am in T & L 1

Dr. Gini Rojas specializes in English as an Additional Language Development and in providing access for English-knowing bilinguals through differentiated instruction and progressive scaffolding for developing academic English. She will be at AISJ working with teachers on effective programs and strategies for English learners.

On Wednesday, October 9 in T & L 1 from 8am-10am she will be presenting to parents on Language Proficiency in the International School Setting. It is geared to parents of multilingual children and will stress the importance of continued development of home languages to support your child’s development of English.

She will be considering some of the following questions in her session:

  • What’s a parent to do when their children enter the international school with one or more home languages?
  • Will continuing to use the home language ‘confuse’ children who are also learning in English?
  • In a home with two languages, should parents choose one language of communication?
  • What should parents understand about schooling in a language other than the home language?
  • What can parents do if full bilingualism is a long-term goal?
  • What is translanguaging?

It is a great opportunity and we hope you will be able to join us.


International Day – Friday, October 11th

International Day is always a great day on our campus featuring a festive celebration of our diversity and multiculturalism. This year, the event takes place on Friday, October 11th.   Events for the day will include the Parade of Nations, where students will walk with their country of origin, and of course, the International Food Festival. Students are encouraged to come to school on International Day dressed in something that reflects their country of origin. In addition to the Parade of Nations and Food Festival, we will also take time within the Middle School to celebrate the cultural diversity that makes this school so magical.   Thanks in advance to all the parents who I know are working hard to support International Day this year



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 (

SAISA Swim Meet: as has been communicated by the Activities Office, any Grade 8 swimmer interested in participating in the SAISA Swim Meet in Luanda should contact Activities ( as soon as possible to express their interest.

AISJ Middle School Instagram: as was shared in last week’s bulletin, if you’d like to sign up for the

Instagram page, please follow this link. Once the Communications Office confirms that you are a parent, they will grant you access. With a new photo being posted each day, don’t miss out!


Grade 8 House Captains: eight days, four Ukuhlola periods, three lunch periods, and two advisory periods, plus countless hours spent working at home is what it takes for a group of 16 8th graders to ideate, plan, communicate, and run a House Meeting and a House Event. Applying skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and responsibility, our House Captains have once again shown how capable and competent they are. In fact, I’d argue that what they do is far superior to anything that Mr. Ferguson or I ever did when we ran the House System. Well done, House Captains!

ISSA Athletes: this tournament is one that is filled with rigorous competition. Teams from across four countries come together in Mahikeng to play some of the toughest brand of basketball you’ll ever see. As in years past, I’m confident that our girls’ and boys’ teams will play hard, but, most importantly, will demonstrate good sportsmanship and unparalleled spirit. Go Eagles!

JoMUN Representatives: as a former Model UN participant, I can appreciate the time and work that goes into preparing for this conference. I can remember feeling overwhelmed by it all as an 11th grader, and yet, here are our 8th graders stepping up and participating. Their maturity, risk-taking, and engagement is something to be marvelled at and shouted-out. Well done, MS JoMUN reps!

World Scholars: from all reports, the AISJ World Scholars Team is having an incredibly, though unsurprisingly, successful competition. After nearly sweeping the debates, it sounds like the team is continuing with its winning ways. We are so proud of this group of young scholars for their focus, drive, and teamwork. We can’t wait to see the llamas line the Middle School corridors upon their return.

Important Dates:

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 3rd



Umoya Band Festival parent information meeting


October 4th – 6th


Mbabane, Swaziland

Senior Track and Field Waterford Invitational


October 7th – 11th



Season 2 CCA registration


October 10th



Season 2 CCA Fair*


October 14th – 18th


Tree House

Volleyball Camp**


October 22nd



Ski Trip parent information meeting***


*The Activities Office will have a booth set up so that parents can register for Season 2 CCAs right there and then. I’d strongly encourage you to check out the fair, so that you can see the offerings, chat with your child, and sign up.

**Over the vacation, Grade 8 Students are invited to participate in a free, drop-in volleyball camp. There’s no need to RSVP. Simply show up.

***Check out the poster and the parent information letter for further information.

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:

Megan Rapinoe is a 2x World Cup Champion, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner, and is widely considered to be the best female athlete in the world. For all of her accolades on the field, Megan Rapinoe is equally as decorated off of it. As a member of the LGBT community, Megan Rapinoe has been recognized by countless organizations for her work within that community. She is also a vocal advocate for equal pay in the women’s game, fighting against wage discrimination. She is a role model to millions, not just because of her skill on the field, but because of how she uses her platform off it.

This week, Megan Rapinoe was named FIFA World Player of the Year. And, true to form, she used her acceptance speech to advocate for what she believes in. Most importantly, though, she spoke about the fact that we must not only stand up to fight for those causes that impact us directly, but must lend our voice and our privilege to fight for those causes that affect those around us. In other words, just because you aren’t a woman being negatively impacted by pay discrimination doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stand up to use your voice to rail against it.

I am sharing a short clip of Megan Rapinoe’s speech this week for two reasons. First, it’s important for us to remember just how influential athletes are on young people. Yes, we should admire their abilities and be awe-struck by their athleticism, but we should also question who these athletes are as people. I mean, is the athlete on my students’ screensavers someone who embodies the CORE values of our school in the way Megan Rapinoe does? Second, I share this clip is because as leadership opportunities expand for students in the Middle School, I wonder how they can leverage these positions to champion causes and lend voice to issues that they care about. I wonder how someone like Megan Rapinoe can not only inspire but can actually inform how our students lead.

I hope you enjoy this clip and consider sharing it with your children:

Zak Cohen

Middle School Activities Coordinator

Other Important Dates and Events for the Months of September through November

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 11

International Day

October 12 – 21

School Holidays

October 26

AISJ MS Basketball Tournament

October 28 – November 1

Grade 8 Classroom Without Walls – Sugar Bay

November 2

Steph Sprint 3 km Run for Cancer Awareness

November 4 – November 8

Grade 6 & 7 Classroom Without Walls – Blyde Adventure Camp

November 14 – 16

Grade 6 – 12 Musical Production – “Matilda”

November 19

Principal’s Coffee Morning

November 28 – 29

U.S. Thanksgiving Holidays – No School


 Three Cheers for our World Scholars, the parents who have supported them,

and the teachers who have prepared them. Amazing job.

Three Cheers for our student-athletes representing AISJ at the ISSA basketball tournament in Mahikeng.

Three Cheers for the parents who have registered their children for CWW trips via Powerschool. Thank you for meeting our October 4th deadline.