Jambo and warm greetings from the AISA office in Nairobi.
I am just back from the latest AISA Board meeting in Kampala. In fact, it was just me and the AISA Board Chair (Caroline Jacoby) in attendance there. The rest of the Board were in their offices at schools around Africa. We were connected by a Zoom meeting over 4 time zones. I have to say I was a little nervous about how this would go with potential connectivity and power issues and some ‘soft’ issues around our ability to communicate effectively and avoid the inevitable interruptions that might come to a head’s office during our meeting.
In the end it went extremely well. We were online for around 4 hours and under Caroline’s careful guidance worked our way systematically and efficiently through our extensive agenda. Some key parts of the discussion were around AISA’s new programming for Wellbeing in our schools, as well the plans for a significant review of the way we support Governance and Leadership learning in our schools.
For the former, it has been my contention for some time that for effective student learning to take place there needs to be an atmosphere that is conducive to the well-being of the entire school community, not just for students, but for educators, parents, co-professionals and school leaders (including our heads of school). As I visit schools it is easy to tell when the leadership team pays specific attention to this. These schools have a different feel to them. In a world where both the external and internal pressures seem to be increasing, AISA intends to look carefully at how we can support you to be at your very best as you work towards realizing your own school mission and your individual goals in life. More on this as we explore these ideas further.
Another key discussion with the AISA Board was around the Governance and Leadership support we offer from AISA. In the coming year, AISA intends to conduct a thorough review of this support and redesign our programming where necessary so that our Governance and Leadership support becomes more sustainable, more accessible, more robust and more effective. I think the days of conducting endless ‘Board Training’ retreats has run its course. Even with the best facilitators in attendance, the high turnover of board members and heads of school in our region tend to make this approach less effective – it just does not gain the traction it needs to be successful. So, with the AISA Board’s support, we’re going to look at the governance needs of our schools very carefully and work with several partners to design something better.
We’re also preparing for our inaugural AISA Invitational Conferences (AIC) in Lagos at the end of March. This carefully curated professional learning event is aimed at supporting non-member schools who value the same personalized learning approach as AISA schools and may wish to learn more. A key aspect of the AIC will be to introduce some of our key accreditation partners to the leadership teams of these schools in order to increase their appreciation of what continuous school improvement can look like. I’ll let you know how it goes next month.
The Board did a whole lot more in its meeting covering a whole variety of topics and issues. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their work. In particular I would like to thank our Chairperson Caroline Jacoby who is stepping down from the AISA Board this year. She has been a supportive guide and mentor to me and has stewarded the organization through a period of growth and development, the impact of which I hope you have felt as I have.
I’d also like to thank Dr Irene Epp who is also completing her term on the AISA Board as she moves into the next phase of her life after international schools. Irene has been involved with the Association for many years. In recent times her wise counsel on the AISA Board and her guiding and structuring of our Small Schools Initiative in particular have had a deep and lasting impact on our region.
AISA is very pleased to announce the addition of two new Board members to our ranks. Dr Fatma Odaymat (ARIS) and Dr Mary Shun (GIS). Read their bio's on the AISA website here.
We know you join us on congratulating them on their election to the AISA Board.