Director at American International School of Bamako in Mali
Mali < Back to Leadership Vacancies

American International School of Bamako (Mali)

Appointed - Bradley Waugh
May 16, 2014
Aug 20, 2014

American International School of Bamako

Bamako, Mali

seeks a


effective July 2015

The American International School of Bamako (AISB) is an independent, coeducational, private day school which offers a full U.S. educational program from pre-kindergarten (age 2) through grade 12.  The School was established in 1977 to serve the needs of American and international community students seeking an English-language education.  The school year is divided into 2 semesters.  AISB also operates a satellite campus in Sadiola, Mali for the AngloGold mining company.



Mali and AISB

Mali is a country of friendly, diverse people whose rich music and art has attracted large numbers of foreign visitors over the years.  Of the numerous ethnic groups making up the population, 80 percent speak Bambara, but because of 80 years of French colonialism, French is the official language of Mali and used widely in schools and government. (French language and even Bambara language classes are easy to arrange for a Director, spouse, or children who desire to learn.)


Living in Bamako, Mali

Bamako is located on the northern bank of the stately Niger River, with a population of around 1.8 million that is growing faster than almost any city in Africa.  The small international and diplomatic community is casual, and Malians are very friendly.  Mali has a rich and diverse artistic heritage that is expressed in arts, drama, music, and dance.  Bamako has been called "the most African of all African cities," and indeed a majority of people in the streets still wear African print clothing and maintain strong connections to their native villages.

At 12 degrees above the equator, Bamako temperatures vary from 77° to over 100° Fahrenheit (25° to 44° Centigrade).  Bamako is a safe city with almost no crime targeting foreigners, where most expatriates feel comfortable driving themselves around town.  Living in Bamako will give the new Director the opportunity to spend time outdoors, swimming, playing tennis, hiking, mountain biking, and enjoying other sports and activities.  The Director’s spacious house has a garden and swimming pool and is a short five-ten minute drive from the school in a quiet but developing part of town opposite a very large green space.


While there are no western style malls, there are several supermarkets where most western goods are available.  Bamako has a number of restaurants that serve West African, Ethiopian, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Turkish, and Lebanese specialties.


Political Context

Since 1991 Mali has held five national elections, the most recent in September 2013, and the country has been known as one of the most politically stable countries in West Africa.  Notwithstanding this, the political situation deteriorated following an almost bloodless coup in March 2012 followed almost immediately by a civilian interim Government.  This surprising situation led a majority of diplomatic missions to make Mali a non-family post for parts of the 2012-13 school year, reducing the school’s enrolments dramatically for that time period.  However, Bamako is once again a family post for nearly all diplomatic missions, businesses, and international NGOs.  Constitutional normality has returned, with a President and a Parliament both democratically elected in 2013Moreover, the leaders of the 2012 coup d’etat are in jail awaiting trial and there is a renewed spirit of accountability in the political scene.


Mali is one of the easiest countries for foreigners – visas can be had at the airport and are easily extended, work permits are not required, and foreign donors and NGOs are warmly welcomed to help the nation address its dire poverty.  While there continue to be security problems in the northern part of the country, the areas in which these conflicts are taking place are about a 3-day drive (1,500 kms on single-lane roads) from Bamako and do not affect daily life in the capital.


The School

The American International School of Bamako (AISB) consists of 145 students from over 30 countries, largely from families who have come to Mali to work in development and diplomacy. Enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year is projected at between 160-180. AISB was re-accredited using MSA’s Excellence by Design protocol November 2011.



To meet the growing demand for a physical environment to match the school’s high quality education, the AISB Board undertook a school construction process that culminated in April 2011 in moving into a new, expanded, purpose-built facility in Bamako that might well be the envy of much larger schools.  The facility has a capacity of 300 students (with room to expand) and is located on a campus of 12 acres in a peaceful location on the banks of the Niger River.  Spacious classrooms for all early childhood and elementary grades are centered around green spaces and the secondary wing includes classrooms, two science labs, student lounge areas, and lockers.  The school also has two computer labs, a library, and performing and visual arts facilities and includes a school store, a kitchen for lunch service, and a canteen seating area.  The campus has wireless Internet access throughout the buildings and increasingly uses cloud computing.

Phase 2 of the facility, which will be developed in the future, will include a swimming pool, teacher housing, and additional recreation facilities.



AISB offers a full U.S. educational program from pre-kindergarten (age 2) through grade 12.  The curriculum is similar to that of other American International Schools and is designed to prepare students for university in the US or elsewhere.  Classes use up-to-date teaching materials from the United States and around the world, and there are ample opportunities to use Bamako and environs for meeting curricular objectives.  In addition to the regular and Advanced Placement (AP) academic courses, French, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), Technology, Music, Drama, Art, and Physical Education classes are offered. The School has a 12,000-volume library.  


AISB strives to create a technology-enabled learning experience. There are two computer labs and a 17-station mobile Mac Lab for use throughout the school.  Elementary faculty members each host a class blog both as a means of communicating with parents, as well as engaging them in their child's class.  In the Secondary School, the Focus learning management system is actively used in the delivery of curriculum content.


AISB uses the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) Standards and Benchmarks in most subject areas.  These standards and benchmarks are developed based on the US Common Core Curriculum for Math and Language Arts and state standards from around the US.  These Standards and Benchmarks are used by many American International Schools around the world, making transition from one school to another smoother.


AISB is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.  AISB is also an authorized ACT, PSAT and SAT testing site and offers approved Advanced Placement high school courses.


The school has inherent international qualities due to its setting in the Republic of Mali, in French-speaking Africa, and due to the diverse international backgrounds of the school population.  Modifications to the basic American program have been made to complement




the school's international setting and population.  These modifications include but are not limited to, French Language instruction, English as a Second Language instruction, and inclusion of Malian culture, history and geography in the curriculum and in after-school activities.  AISB recognizes that the education of students is much broader than the academic content that is determined by the curriculum.  The classroom and campus atmosphere, the style of teacher interaction with the students, and the expectations placed on the students produce a long-term impact which will be reflected in the character traits that our students will hold as adults in the larger world.


An athletic program and a variety of extra-curricular and club/service activities are available for AISB students.  The school participates in athletics and academic activities other international schools, organized through WAISAL, the West African International Schools Activities League. Students in the Secondary School are given a range of leadership opportunities through student government, involvement in PTO events and service learning projects. Service learning is an integral part of the AISB curriculum throughout the school. The school actively promotes connections with Malian culture and society, and seeks to do more of this in the future.




The faculty includes a full-time school director and 16 full-time and 3 part-time teachers, including 9 U.S. citizens and 10 teachers of other nationalities.  All professional staff members have university degrees or teacher certificates and more than half the faculty hold Master’s degrees.


School Mission

AISB is committed to providing a challenging, enriching, English-language American-based educational program which encompasses holistic student development in a nurturing, student-centered, multi-cultural environment. 


Beliefs Statement

At AISB we hold certain beliefs to be true. These beliefs guide teachers in the presentation of curriculum content, are integral in creating the learning environment of the school, and are the driving force for the Board in establishing and implementing policies and practices.



We are a community of learners in which education is a cooperative endeavor involving students, parents, staff and teachers.

We believe in encouraging resourcefulness, creativity and self-expression.

We will give our students the tools necessary to become life-long learners.

We believe each person is a unique individual with dignity and worth.

We believe in providing a supportive and safe learning environment.

We believe our students should develop an awareness of and a respect for different cultures, locally and globally.



The AISB Board of Directors consists of nine members.  Of these, seven are voting members, four Americans and three non-Americans, who must be parents of students enrolled at AISB.  These numbers may be altered only if the required number of Americans or non-Americans is not available to stand for election.  There are two ex–officio non-voting members of the Board, a representative of the US Ambassador and the Director.

The major responsibilities of the Board of Directors are to advance AISB’s mission, develop and revise sound policies and oversee sound financial stewardship of the school.  They have a responsibility to ensure the school’s well-being now and into the future.  One of their main responsibilities is to hire and evaluate the Director, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the school.


The Position

The AISB Board of Directors is seeking a full-time Director to lead the school into the future, focusing on the following:


Strategy and Growth

  • Lead the AISB Board in the development of a strategic plan
  • Lead revenue growth and manage finances so that the school can continue to develop the new campus while also repaying its building loan.
  • Lead AISB to continue to grow enrollment towards full capacity of the new facility.


Excellence in Education

  • Lead AISB to continue to attract, support, and retain excellent teachers.
  • Lead AISB staff to continue to develop, improve, and document the written curriculum.



  • Lead AISB Board, parents, and staff to continue to foster and develop the strong sense of community, which is dear to everyone at AISB.


AISB’s special strengths

The school seeks a Director who will lead the school to preserve and support its:

  • Positive, friendly, supportive community atmosphere and working environment.
  • Highly diverse, multi-cultural, international student body – and enjoyment of that diversity.
  • Excellent teacher-parent communication.
  • Dedicated and creative teachers.
  • Organized and efficient operations.
  • Initiatives to develop its curriculum and educational programs.


Qualifications and Experience

The school seeks a Director who is:

  • Motivated, experienced, and skilled in meeting the challenges described above.
  • An experienced and knowledgeable educator, with an M.A. degree, administrative credential, and an excellent record of success in previous positions of school leadership.
  • A strategic manager and an inspirational leader.
  • A team builder who can lead the school community in achieving a shared vision of the future.
  • A leader who is fair, objective, honest, and ethical.
  • A leader who is open-minded, flexible, and resilient.
  • An administrator with a record of proven success in recruiting and retaining excellent teachers, leading change processes, and managing finances.
  • A talented and approachable communicator with strong interpersonal skills and multi-cultural understanding and experience (and, if possible – though not required – with French language skills)


Terms and conditions

An initial three-year contract is offered.  The salary, benefits and terms of contract will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience sought in the candidate.

Note: AISB is a highly welcoming community, the Board and staff are serious about quality education, and Malians are wonderfully hospitable.  It is not surprising, then, that the previous two directors have both extended their initial contracts beyond the initial contract.


Procedures for Filing Application

The American International School of Bamako has appointed Search Associates as its consultant in its search for a Director, with Ralph Jahr as the lead consultant.  The deadline for applications for the position is August 20, 2014.  Candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and the requested materials listed below as early as possible as the Search Committee reserves the right to close the selection process at any time if the right candidate is found.


The review of files will begin as soon as applications are received.  Finalists will be selected by the Search Committee and 2 or 3 finalists will be selected as early in the process as possible.  Finalist candidates together with their spouse (if applicable) may be invited to Bamako to meet with the Search Committee and the Board for final interviews and to visit the school campus and meet with faculty, parents, students, and non-teaching staff.  The new Director will be selected immediately after the conclusion of the site visit, final interviews, and reference checks.  The new Director will begin in August 2015.


Candidates should send the information listed below as a single pdf file attached to an email:


  • A letter of application, explaining your strengths as a candidate and why you are interested in the Director position at AISB.
  • A statement describing your management and educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.
  • A current résumé not to exceed two pages.
  • A one-page list of references with current addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
  • A maximum of three letters of reference (scanned at low resolution) that may already be in your possession.


Total document size should be kept to less than three (4) MB if possible. Applications should be sent to .  Additional information about AISB can be found on the school’s web site at .


Ralph Jahr                                                           Tel: 609-759-0431 USA – Eastern Time Zone

Skype – ralph.h.jahr                                            Email:

Did You Know…?

CEO of Search Associates, Jessica Magagna, was born in Morocco and attended the American Community School in Iran while her father was headmaster.