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Banjul American International School (Gambia, The)
Appointed - Mr. Robert Harper
Apr 6, 2023
May 7, 2023
Dear Search Associates Colleagues,
On behalf of the Board of the Banjul American International School (BAIS), The Gambia, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Robert Harper as Director of BAIS, beginning in August 2024. The appointment has now been shared with the school community.
Mr. Harper holds a M. Ed. in International/Overseas Administration and Supervision from The College of New Jersey and a Ed. S. in Instructional Supervision from Tennessee Tech University.
He is currently teaching English and coaching football and basketball in Tennessee, USA. He brings previous experience as an international school Director in West Africa, having served in Nouakchott, Mauritania for two years. Mr. Harper is excited to be returning to international education and school leadership in West Africa.
Search Associates would like to thank all of the candidates who applied for this position and to everyone who assisted and supported the successful search process for BAIS.
BANJUL AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Banjul, The Gambia (West Africa)
effective August 1, 2024
The School and Community
Located on the west coast of Africa in The Gambia, the Banjul American International School (BAIS - pronounced [bayz]) is a well-respected Kindergarten through 12th grade school that provides a well-rounded education to students of diverse nationalities. The school was founded in 1984 to meet the educational needs of the international and local and global business communities in this small West African nation known as ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’ for its friendly, welcoming people.
BAIS is fully accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, USA, and committed to the objectives laid out in the 2022 Self Study process. The School provides a formal educational program in English for children between 3 and 18 years of age with instruction in English. Divisions include Prekindergarten, Elementary, Middle School and High School, each registered with the Gambian Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE). The core subjects: English, mathematics, science and social studies, are supplemented with specialty instruction in art, French, technology, music and PE. The Service Learning program aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals and focuses on a different SDG goal each year. The goal is for students in PK through Grade 12 to apply learning through action that will improve their community.
BAIS opened a full High School program in September 2020 to allow students in The Gambia to complete the 4-year American high school program and earn a U.S. High School Diploma without leaving the country. Prior to this time, students in high school completed coursework individually via UNHS online classes. The new high school program opened Grade 9 in 2020-21 and other students in upper grades joined shortly after. The first two graduates were celebrated in 2022 and the sole graduate for 2023 has been accepted to Wellesley College.
Three eight-week sessions of after-school activities are offered to all students in Kindergarten – Grade 12, including a variety of artistic, athletic, and academic activities, and a BAIS highlight is the annual musical with a role for every student in the school!
What Makes BAIS Special?
BAIS is unique among its international school peers because of its ‘nano’ size. Enrolment over the past five years has ranged between 54 and 67 students total. This ‘nano’ size results in an incredibly supportive, tight-knit school community with teachers who are flexible, creative and dedicated to supporting students of all abilities towards personal and academic growth. It also results in small class sizes which allows teachers to make that support happen. BAIS is an incredibly nurturing school with high levels of individualized attention and strong Personal, Social, Emotional Learning (PSEL) programs. Elementary classes with 12 or more students are assigned full time TAs.
Classes sizes currently range:
- HS 13
- MS 6
- G4/5 6
- G2/3 10
- K/1 12
- PK 10
The March 2023 MSA Visiting Team highlighted the BAIS Board as a supportive and effective governance partner for the current Director, BAIS parents as positive and appreciative, and BAIS students as living examples of the BAIS Mission!
Location and Campus
BAIS is located in the quiet suburb of Fajara, home to many UN, EU and Embassy families. The beach is a short walk away. The school occupies an open campus with administrative offices, a well-stocked elementary and secondary library, a fully networked computer lab with 16 new HP desktops, middle school classrooms, and a middle school teacher office all with wireless Internet access. Three other buildings include a science lab, an Early Childhood Center, and elementary classrooms. There is a large playground; a smaller soccer area for the younger students; and the basketball court and soccer field are being renovated.
The school was provided sizable land 30 minutes drive away in the Brusubi district to house a purpose-built campus and teacher residences though its development has yet to begin. There is a borehole for water, a guard house, a maintenance building and the property is enclosed by a concrete block wall fence, with sturdy security gates. Work continues to have the lease (currently contested) reimposed by the government.
The school is governed by a six-member Board of Directors. Five members of the Board are elected for two-year terms by the BAIS Association while the remaining member is appointed by the U.S. Ambassador. The Board works to ensures its continuity and seeks to balance its skillset when appointing/electing new members. The Director has nonvoting, ex-officio membership on the Board. Parents, legal guardians, the Director and teachers are members of the BAIS Association.
The school offers an U.S. style education to a multiethnic, multicultural and diverse student body. An overseas-hired American administrator provides the leadership of the school. The school year extends from late August to mid-June with no fewer than 180 days of instruction. The academic program stresses individual achievement and individualized attention and instruction and units are documented on the Atlas system.
The curriculum from Kindergarten through 12th grade is aligned with AERO standards (including NGSS standards for Science), and the PK curriculum is aligned with the New York State Early Learning Guidelines. All units develop the international understanding of students, including knowledge of Gambian and other African cultures. The school follows ISTE standards for technology instruction and NASPE standards for physical education. Technology (ICT) instruction is integrated with learning across the subjects, and all classes have dedicated time in the computer lab and library each week.
Students enrolled in the high school program (grades 9-12) pursue rigorous graduation requirements with courses designed to prepare learners for university level skills following course curriculum developed by BAIS faculty using a variety of resources and texts: from AP courses, to French Literature, math, science and individual elective courses using Edmentum Courseware resources. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are offered for students prepared to tackle more challenging academic courses.
Frequent field trips and invitations to campus of local guests are used to enhance lessons and foster an appreciation of Gambian culture and society. MAP testing is administered twice yearly as well as an in-house moderated Writing Diagnostic and single annual administrations of the PSAT NMSQT, and ACER AGAT and e-Write. Data is used to ensure student growth.
Faculty and Student Body
BAIS faculty are typically from the US, Europe, and The Gambia with current additional faculty from Sweden, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, India and the Philippines. All are experienced teachers and all but one hold Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees and internationally recognized teaching certificates/qualifications. Teachers noted to MSA Visitors that BAIS offers the highest level of professional freedom and creativity they have ever encountered.
With a very low student/teacher ratio, teachers have the opportunity to know all students and to address their individual needs. Teachers and Teaching Assistants (TAs) act as counsellors, mentors and instructors for all students.
The environment is friendly, safe, and secure. Faculty members including the Director wear many hats to ensure that the children of families committed to The Gambia are afforded opportunities that students in bigger schools have. A vibrant Student Council composed of elected members from Grade 2 to 12 organizes dozens of activities each year to enrich the lives of all students and support community spirit.
During the recent self-study, the BAIS faculty and community set the following goals that the school is working towards:
- Develop and document the Gambian Studies Curriculum
- Throughout the school, focus on the explicit teaching of inquiry
- The BAIS leadership develop a strategic mindset
- Develop a comprehensive special needs program
The Director serves as the chief administrator of the Board and is responsible for the organization, operation and administration of the total school program. Within limits of established policy, the Director shall make decisions involving the activities and personnel of the school. The Director shall organize the school and its employees into an efficient, democratic and cooperative institution of professionally trained workers with stress on the importance of teaching and learning. S/he shall provide educational leadership and supervision. S/he shall be responsible for the safety, welfare and general development of the children within the school, s/he stimulates the teachers to guide and direct the physical, mental, social and emotional growth of the children in their care.
Required Qualifications for the Position
- US citizenship or prior experience working closely with a US Embassy
- MA in Educational Leadership or similar
- At least 3 years of Senior Leadership experience in international schools preferably in developing countries, in particular in Africa
- Experience working with Boards
- Experience creating and implementing budgets
- A leadership style that focuses on building consensus
- Experience leading learning with a US based curriculum
- The Director must be willing to teach
- The Director (and his/her dependents) must be in good health
Preferred Qualifications & Experience
- Experience with the MSA accreditation process and an enthusiasm for leading the community on working towards achieving the recently set MSA goals.
- Certification as an administrator
- Confident and proficient user of technology
Salary and Benefits
The salary will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate and the size of the school. The benefits package includes housing, use of a school car, retirement, travel benefit, and health insurance.
BAIS has selected Search Associates to assist them in the Director search, with Caroline Jacoby as the Lead Consultant.
Please note that we will not forward-on candidates for further consideration by the school if a candidate is under contract or otherwise encumbered in such a way that would preclude them from freely entering a new employment contract, if offered, and being available for the start date stipulated by the hiring organization. Search Associates will contact the current employer/supervisor to request completion of a Search Associates Confidential Leadership Reference Form for all applicants who emerge in the search as a semi-finalist.
Candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and the required materials as early as possible as BAIS reserves the right to close the selection process AT ANY TIME if the right candidate is found. The review of applications begins as applications are received. BAIS plans to hold finalist interviews online in September 2023.
Suitably qualified candidates should send the information listed below in a single PDF file attached to an email to Caroline Jacoby at email@example.com to arrive as soon as possible, and no later than May 7th, 2023 GMT. The application should include:
- A letter of application describing your interest in the Director position at BAIS, listing your strengths as a candidate and how your qualifications and experience align with the position profile and the school’s areas of focus.
- A current resume not to exceed two pages.
- A one (1) page list of four (4) referees who have been your direct supervisors, with current email addresses.
- A statement describing your leadership and educational philosophy, not to exceed two pages.