A collection of updates, stories and resources from the AISCT community.
There is a powerful sense of pride when our learners and teachers adorn their traditional dress and showcase their heritage and culture to the school community. Equally, the amazing array of colors, outfits, and flags create a powerful sense of how unified our global community at AISCT actually is. The Parade of Nations, which sees our learners, staff, and parents marching around our field in their country group with the youngest and oldest students from each country leading the way, fosters this unity while celebrating diversity.
Many of our learners call many places home. It is common that their parents come from different countries or cultures or that they have lived in many different countries already. This phenomenon, known in the research community as a Third Culture Kid (TCK), describes a child who has spent a significant amount of time in a culture or cultures outside of their own. In the Parade of Nations, many students choose to walk with the country they were born in, some the country of their passport, and still others the country in which they have lived the longest, all showing us what it means to be global citizens.
TCKs form one important sub-cultural with our community, joining expatriates who have definitive ties to their home country and local South Africans who have always lived here. Often in these situations, the term “melting pot” is used to describe a community, meaning where people of diverse origins fuse to make a new environment. As shared by Dr. Daniel Jubert, AISCT Head of School, “I prefer to use the term ‘cultural mosaic’ where our various groups maintain their distinctiveness while functioning as part of the whole.” This was on full display during the Parade of Nations.
Food and cuisine are an integral part of any country’s culture. On International Day at AISCT, food from over 40 different countries is available. Parents dedicate their time to preparing food unique to their home country which they share with the entire community.
International Day at AISCT is a PATA-sponsored event that aims at honoring AISCT’s diversity and that draws close to 1000 people onto our campus. The event is for the entire family with games, activities, and live performances from students and professional groups for all ages to enjoy.
The AISCT Parent and Teacher Association (PATA) is made up of parent volunteers. They aim to bring together our diverse school community and create opportunities for parents to connect with each other and the school. International Day is one of their largest endeavors.
This year, being reunited for International Day, felt more important than ever. With the pandemic having limited the opportunities to come together as a community, the chance to be able to do so in 2022 made the day that more meaningful. It was a day that showcased internationalism, diversity, collaboration, partnership, and sharing and one that left many in the community especially grateful.
“I want to thank everyone for coming together to represent your countries and cultures with such vibrancy in food and decorations. Together we created a beautiful community for all of us,” AISCT community member.
“Thank you all for helping bring international day back! It was an awesome day!” AISCT community member.
“Can’t thank you all enough for the hard work we all know goes into making this happen. The happiness everyone had today with the wonderful food and experience was just incredible. Thanks to all you wonderful parents!” AISCT community member.
“Thanks very much to AISCT and to each and every organizer. The day was really amazing and we had a wonderful time,” AISCT community member.
Special thanks go to all the event sponsors!
You can see more photographs from this event in our gallery.
Why are all of these important? They define the type of learning our students will have and how we assess their progress. These elements can differ widely from school to school, and they can all add to the learning experience children have in their schooling.
At AISCT, we have broad goals of what we want learning to look like. We want the learning at AISCT to inspire curiosity, actively engage our learners, connect previous learning with new learning, and facilitate student agency.
In addition, we define learning as a lifelong, dynamic process whereby students acquire and reflect on knowledge and skills to create meaning in new and authentic ways. We know that the learning we provide to our students needs to serve them not only through their time at AISCT or other schools but through university and college and throughout their lives. Being able to apply their learning to other situations in life is key and the foundation for what a U.S. educational philosophy is about.
When we talk about curriculum, we are referring to the learning content and subjects and courses we offer that align with key academic standards. We use the U.S. standards, and our curricula scope and sequencing drives student learning to ensure each child can meet these standards of what they should know and what skills they should master. These standards were developed to support learners in being successful not only in school and college but in life. They focus on developing critical thinking, analytical skills, and creative problem-solving – essential tools for today’s fast-changing world. Using the U.S. standards means that AISCT is aligned with public and private schools in the U.S., but because of the transferable nature of this type of learning, students can easily transfer to other educational programs. At AISCT, we want to ensure that we prepare students to be critical thinkers, to apply their learning to new situations, and to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.
On account of our diverse student body and our commitment to inclusion, our Director of Teaching, Learning and Innovation adapts our curricula to suit the needs of our students, while maintaining the overarching standards. An example of this adaption is our focus on the Reggio Emilia approach in our Early Childhood Development Center. The Reggio Emilia approach is centered on a holistic, child-centered approach to learning that promotes creativity, meaningful relationships and critical thinking skills in children.
The way in which student learning is assessed is incredibly important. Assessment at AISCT is not about scores and grades; it is about the learning. It is a way of providing feedback to students for self monitoring and growth. It is a way of showing progress to parents. For learning to be successful, assessment needs to be a process that includes teachers, students, and parents. We assess students in a multitude of ways so that we can gather clear information and then analyze and interpret that holistically. Teachers assess students formatively to gain a clear picture of their understanding at any given time in a unit of learning. This may include one on one conversations, a class “exit” ticket, a quick game (like Kahoot), or a simple thumbs up/down observation. Teachers assess the standards more formally through longer term projects, student-chosen inquiry tasks, exams, essays, performance tasks such as a debate, oral presentation or musical performance. Teachers and students are then able to adapt the teaching and learning based on the assessment findings. This reiterative process allows for continued growth and development.
We believe effective assessment must be based on these seven key principles:
A strong educational program should be well balanced and offer a wide range of subject choices for all students, with a further expansion for older students who are starting to consider their area of specialization. This is why even our younger students have classes in art, world languages, and service learning, all alongside their foundational subjects of language arts and mathematics. This is why our High School has over 60 courses on offer.
On account of the diverse community at AISCT, world languages are also an essential part of our programs. We offer French and Spanish from as early as Elementary School.
We also know that for learners to fully embrace the world we currently live in, a strong focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) is key, and we offer a wide selection of related subjects at the High School level, with technology integration starting as young as in our Early Childhood Development program.
Education today is well researched, and as an international school, we have the advantage of utilizing leading models of global best practices for our learners. With our focus on the U.S. academic standards and curriculum, through our experienced and caring teachers, and on account of our commitment to inclusion, we provide students with the opportunities and confidence to live meaningful lives and positively impact the world.
Download the High School Course List here.
This year, The American International School of Cape Town (AISCT) turns 25. AISCT was established in 1997, with our first academic school year beginning on September 16 of the same year.
We began in a double-story home in Rondebosch with 18 students. The founders, one of whom was Dr. Pat Gorvalla, a South African educator and businesswoman, saw the need for a school with an international curriculum that followed the northern hemisphere calendar, one that could serve expatriate families living in Cape Town who were with consulates and NGOs, in addition to providing pathways abroad for South African students.
Starting with grades Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8, the school was initially accredited by the European Council of International Schools in the United Kingdom. Enrollment quickly grew and the hunt for a larger campus began.
Since 1949, 42 Soetvlei Avenue in Constantia has been a place of dedicated learning. In November of 1948, the Sisters of Notre Dame from France were granted permission by the Vatican to start a training school in Cape Town. They found an idyllic piece of land, originally part of the Sweet Valley Farm, on which to build their convent and school. The legacy they left behind are the beautiful Cape Dutch style buildings that house AISCT’s learning spaces today.
After 25 years of running their primary school, the Sisters’ funding from the Vatican dried up, and the property was handed over to the South African government. The campus then became a reformatory for girls, but after some time the school was closed and the campus was left empty.
When the Board of AISCT investigated the property, it needed a lot of work to bring it back to its original grandeur, but the Board members had a clear vision of what it could be. They leased the property from the South African government in 2001, starting immediately with complete renovations, and they opened the doors to students in January 2002.
This year marks 20 years of learning on our current campus. During those years, we have added and expanded while maintaining the historical richness. An example of this is the Little Theater, which was once a chapel and still has its original stained glass windows. It is a historical landmark that adds to the unique feel of the AISCT campus. The campus today includes multiple sporting facilities, performing arts spaces, spacious classrooms, outdoor playgrounds, extensive grounds with indigenous gardens and more, all nestled below the beautiful mountain scenes of Cape Town.
Through our commitment to environmental sustainability, our campus has also earned Silver Status as an Eco School. We are waterwise with rainwater and groundwater collection, saving 1 million liters of city water each year. We have solar panels and retrofitted LED lights, which reduce our electricity consumption by 50%.
AISCT’s enrollment steadily increased to our current enrollment of just under 500 students. It has become a school for all nations, with over 50 nationalities represented in the student body. We were accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2006 which allowed us to develop pathways to the USA, as well as the rest of the world, for our expatriate and South African students. AISCT is also endorsed as an independent school by the Western Cape Education Department.
Our first graduating class was in 2007, and since then, our students have gone to universities and colleges all over the world and have received millions of US dollars in university scholarships. The USA, Canada, UK, Europe, and South Africa are the most popular destinations with AISCT graduates. This past year we celebrated students getting offers to Oxford University, Cornell University, Brown University, Howard University, The University of Edinburgh, The University of British Columbia, among many others.
AISCT was started as a school that would bring together students from varied and diverse backgrounds, and this holds true today. We believe a diverse, inclusive, and equitable school community is critical for all of us to participate in a complex and interconnected society. We provide a space where all members of the school community feel a sense of belonging.
This is who AISCT is today. Read the full AISCT prospectus here.