Thu, Jul. 30, 2015
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AST Newsletter
15 May, 2015


The end of the year is almost upon us!  Senior Graduation is two weeks away; end-of-year projects are being completed and presented, and people are finally complaining about the heat.  AST can look back on another year of progress and success as this one comes to a close.


Model UN

Thanks to Nabil Alami and a large group of highly dedicated students, the first-ever Tangier Model UN Conference was held the weekend of April 17-19.  Including over 120 students from all over Morocco, the conference focused on the world-wide problem of migration.  The conference featured two speakers, Mr. Chris Monime from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ms. Ana Fonseca from the International Organization on Migration office in Rabat.  The conference was a great success, thanks to the hard work of 45 AST students from grades 7-12, led by seniors Shreya Nebhwani (Secretary General) and Beth Fallon (President of the General Assembly). 


Senior Presentations

The Class of 2015 has been busy this week completing their final graduation requirement, the Senior Presentations.  The presentations are reflections back on their AST experience, many of which began sixteen years ago.  Teachers, admin, parents, and fellow students have attended these sessions, which include high points (and sometimes low points!) of their experience, their favorite courses, considerations of their growth over the years, and suggestions for school improvement.  Lisa Gregoire, the Senior Seminar teacher, has organized and facilitated these presentations.  Congratulations, seniors!


Engineering workshops

Thanks to Macarena Ventosa, our Art teacher, the lower school art classes have been visited by teams of young engineers from Airbus, the airplane manufacturer, to hold workshops on flight during the week of May 11.  Airplanes, helicopters, rockets, and satellites have all been subjects of the workshops.


MAP results

AST recently completed its third round of MAP testing with excellent results.  By the time our students reach the fourth and fifth grades, most of them are scoring at or above the norms for their grades.  In the earlier grades, the fact that the students are still learning English affects their scores, but by the middle grades of elementary school most have mastered English well enough to achieve these excellent results.  MAP scores can be accessed through the Plus Portal; parents wishing to discuss these are welcome to make appointments with the grade teacher (K3-G6) or with the appropriate subject teacher (grades 7-10).



Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is now open and ready for classes.  What was to be a simple replacement of the decking around the pool grew into a full-scale renovation of elements which were long overdue for maintenance.  Of major concern was the drainage system, which had been infiltrated by the roots of our eucalyptus trees, causing an almost total blockage.  Although the drainage work has yet to be completed, the pool is open and ready for service.


Science labs

The Elementary/Middle School Science lab is now outfitted and functioning.  Mr. Rico has worked hard at getting it set up for the final trimester of the year.  The High School lab is still being assembled and connected; it will be fully operational in time for the 2015-16 school year.  When the work is completed the school will host a formal opening of the lab, at which our parent donors will be honored for their part in the purchase of this equipment.



I am happy to report that the AST Parent Teacher Organization is now up and running.  Led by Leila and Fatima Azerkan, they are already busy planning events for next year.  On the weekend of May 8-9, the PTO organized the concessions for the Middle School Volleyball tournament, providing refreshments and food for all the players, parents, and coaches who came to AST for the matches.  They have brought an enthusiastic energy to their work which I am sure Sarah and the rest of the school will appreciate over the coming years.



We are very pleased that we are now in the editing phase of the Self-Study report, which should be finished over the course of the coming week.  The report will then be turned over to the Planning Committee, which will determine which objectives the school will choose to focus on over the 7-year accreditation cycle.  We have requested our school visit for October or November; we are almost there!  Congratulations to ASM, our sister school, which was recently awarded their accreditation. 

Professional Development

Three of our Lower School teachers have participated in the first of a series of Mathematics workshops sponsored by the Office of Overseas Schools and presented by Erma Anderson, a specialist in teaching math to lower school children.  Lesley Rekiouak (G1), Malti Daswani (G4), and Khadija Anejdam (G5)  all took part in this initial workshop, and all reported having an excellent experience.  Two other AST teachers, Souad Belcaid and Nada Beroual, have already completed this course.  

April Newsletter
6 April, 2015

Sarah Putnam and Mohamed Ahmed

The big news at AST right now is that Sarah Putnam and Mohamed Ahmed, our new Head of School and Principal, are visiting the school in preparation for taking over the reins of leadership in July. 
Both have met with faculty, students, parents, and staff in a week that can only be described as grueling but inspiring. Sarah and Mohamed have enjoyed this opportunity to get to know the school and to begin to establish their expectations for the future.


We are pleased to announce that Adam Benabbou is the Valedictorian for the Class of 2015.  Adam has attained a grade point average (GPA) of 3.8 over his four years in the high school.

Spring Play

The High School Drama class will perform a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing", a comedy/love story about two pairs of lovers, Hero (Toufa Kinani) and Claudio (Abderrahmane Ghalani), and Benedick (Ali Loudiyi) and Beatrice (Maria Huertas). Don John, the villain, (Borja Benavent) can't bear anyone else to be happy, so he thwarts Claudio and Hero's marriage; meanwhile Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their true feelings for each other.

Dress rehearsal: Thursday, April 23 at 7pm @ UNE auditorium
Performance: Friday, April 24 at 7pm @ UNE auditorium

Student Activities

Lisa Gregoire, our Director of Student Activities, has announced three new after-school programs:

1)     Karate:  this class started Thursday, April 9, but it needs more students to continue.  Please contact Lisa for information on this good opportunity for after-school activity.
2)     Guitar club, open for all from Grade 4 to Grade 12, every Tuesday and Thursday.
3)     Flag Football Club started on Friday, April 10.  Come learn American football!

Accreditation Update

The accreditation Self-Study committees are in the process of finalizing their reports and suggesting their action plans.  These reports and plans will be submitted to the Planning Committee for review and revision, and then will be combined into a Self-Study document which will be sent to Middle States for their review, prior to the Middle States visit next fall.  There has been much hard work put into these reports and all who have participated should feel proud of their work!

Planning Committee

The Planning Committee, composed of parents, trustees, faculty, administration, and students, is charged with overseeing the accreditation process and insuring that the school follows an ongoing planning process.  Currently that means that the PC is looking at the steps needed to implement the Strategic Plan as adopted by the Board of Trustees last year.  The PC will be bringing its brief to class parent meetings, which will resume this month, so that all will be familiar with the important role this committee will be assuming in the life of the school

Science Labs

At long last the equipment for the science labs has arrived!  Mr. Molato and Mr. Saadi are cataloging and organizing the equipment, much of which will be operational during the final trimester.  The student lab stations will need to be plumbed and wired, as will the teaching stations, but most of the other equipment can be used immediately.  Needless to say, the science teachers are very excited about this.

College Acceptances

Most of our results (with a few exceptions) are in now, and they are excellent.  Colgate, Michigan State, Wesleyan, Hamilton, Lafayette, Northeastern, Vassar, Cottey, Emory, Penn State, USC, UNE, Boston University, Pace, Bryant, and Georgia Tech are some of the schools where our seniors have been accepted.  AST will publish a full list in the next newsletter.


The new AST Parent Teacher Organization  (PTO) is now under way.  Fatima  and Leila Azerkan have agreed to become Co-Chairs of the new organization, which has a two-fold mission: 1)  To promote community spirit and 2) to raise money for school projects.  If you would like to become part of this new organization, please contact them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Physical Plant and Grounds

The Karim Team has been working hard through the spring to spruce up the grounds of the school by clearing brush, planting new shrubs, and by weeding and planting the flower beds.  The rain we have had has of course done its share in the work, but kudos to the gardeners and to Karim for presenting such a beautiful campus  for us all to enjoy.

The pool tiles are being replaced because of ground subsidence which was causing the tiles to break and shatter; this work should be done by mid-April, just in time for our spring pool programs to begin.  Karim is managing the renovation of the science labs, and in the summer he will be directing the replacement of another batch of windows and doors in the main classroom building.  Numerous minor repairs and some painting projects were completed over the break.  Many thanks to Karim and his men for keeping the school in such good condition.

Information/Admissions Open House, April 22

On April 22 AST will host its first Information/Admissions Open House, to which the Tangier community is invited.  The Open House will present general information about the school and will provide tours of the school’s facilities.  The Faculty and Administration will present information on curriculum, student activities, and college placement as well as other topics in the course of the evening program.  The Open House runs from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Wednesday, April 22.

Graduation 2015

Senior graduation will be held as scheduled on May 30.  Speakers will be Ms. Antoinette Bush, wife of the US Ambassador to Morocco, Dr. Mohammad Benaboud, Professor of History.  The graduation ceremonies will be attended by many alums returning for a Reunion Weekend, including Ms. Bush, who attended AST.


25 March, 2015
Dear Parents,
You are cordially invited to attend a meeting of all AST parents on Tuesday, April 7, at 6:00 pm in the library.  Sarah Putnam, our new Head of School, and Mohamed Ahmed, the new Principal, will be present to address the parents and to share their vision for the future of AST.
The AST Planning Committee, composed of students, faculty, administration, parents, and trustees, will also address the meeting.  The Planning Committee, which is charged with the oversight of the accreditation process and the monitoring of all action plans coming out of that process, will discuss their role in the future of the school and the progress that has been made thus far toward accreditation.
An update on the PTO will also be presented.
Please come and meet Sarah, Mohamed, and the Planning committee!


click here for the Arabic Version

Richard E. Lussen

Head of School

The American School of Tangier

February Newsletter

Contrary to popular belief, February (for educators) is the longest month.  There is just something about it that drags on and on, despite the best efforts of the American groundhog and the Carnival celebrations all around the world.

Recent news from AST:

Assistant to the Head of School

I am happy to announce the hiring of Chaimae Zainabi to be the new Assistant to the Head of School.  Chaimae brings a BA from Brooklyn College, experience in web design and communications, and experience in community outreach programs in New York City to her job as the assistant.  We are all looking forward to working with her, starting Monday, February 9.  Please stop by and say hello to Chaimae.

Student Activities

Model UN, Debate, sports tournaments, after-school clubs, Drama, and a film club are among the activities going on at AST right now.  Lee Allen has started a chess club that is booming with activity, often having between 20 and 30 participants at lunch time.  Lisa Gregoire, our Student Activities leader, is looking to find suitable after-school activities for Lower School students, such as karate, so that we can serve these students better.  AST is also looking at an extended day (to 5:30) for parents who would like to pay for this service, which could include activities or study halls.

College Admissions

Although it is still early our seniors have already received acceptances from 38 colleges so far, including such universities as NYU, Georgia Tech, Lynn University, Pace University, Les Roches Marbella, Cottey College, Temple, and Drexel, to name a few.  We will continue to update their progress as the spring unfolds.  Seniors are working on their service learning requirement and their blogs, which you can access by going to our website and clicking on “Student Blogs”.


The faculty committees on accreditation have been meeting regularly throughout the fall and are now beginning to write their self-study reports.  These reports will be assembled into a self-study document that will be submitted to Middle States for their approval prior to the eventual visit of the Accreditation Committee.  The Action Plans submitted by the committees as part of their reports will be reviewed by the Planning Committee, which will decide which of the institution-wide Action Plans will be adopted by the school as part of its long-term effort for school improvement.

Planning Committee

The new multi-stakeholder Planning Committee has been meeting regularly since September.  Its first job was to complete the Graduate Profile, a seminal document required by Middle States.  The committee has now started to work on the expansion part of the Strategic Plan, which includes discussing the financial requirements, the spatial needs, the timing of expansion, and the current admissions market here in Tangier.

Parent/Teacher Organization

A start-up meeting was held in December that generated considerable interest in the project of starting a PTO for AST.  A convenient way of nominating and voting for officers was established through the school’s communication system, but no parents participated in this.  Now that there is a new Head’s Assistant, parents can be called individually and reminded that they can attend meetings, nominate, and vote, so we will continue to work on this project.


Plans for a combined graduation celebration/alumni reunion are going forward.  Current plans include a gala dinner/prom under the graduation tent, alumni/student conferences, and other events for the alumni group.


The admissions season has started but it is still too soon to make any predictions regarding the return for this year or for the future market.   AST is planning at least one open house in March for local and ex-pat parents and will be making a glossy color brochure to support our effort to recruit families for our current unfilled slots and for our future expansion.  If you know of families interested in AST, please direct them to our Admissions page on our website.

Science Lab Renovation

I am delighted to be able to say that the science equipment that was ordered last year has finally arrived and is in the process of being cleared through customs.  This equipment, supported by the BOT and by several parental contributions, will give us two state of the art science facilities, one for the High School and the other to be shared among the lower grades (K-8).  

Happy Spring!


Another Honor for Souad Belcaid, AST’s 6th Grade Teacher

Ms. Souad Belcaid, who was recently selected as one of fifty finalists in the Varkey GEMS Global Teacher Prize, has just been named to a list of Moroccan Women Who Have Honored Their Country in 2014 by Morocco World News. In an announcement published on its website on December 29, the news website says:

 “Morocco World News is delighted to share with its audience the list of top women who are a source of pride to their homeland through their positive contribution and exceptional achievements, either abroad or at home. “

  The article goes on to mention Souad’s  career as a teacher in Egypt, Massachusetts, Missouri, and now Morocco, where she relocated to in 2012, taking up a position as the 6th Grade teacher at the American School of Tangier.

Belcaid is the only teacher in North Africa shortlisted for The Global Teacher Prize, a competition established by the Varkey GEMS Foundation with a grand prize of one million dollars, “to celebrate one outstanding teacher.”

We are truly happy to have Ms. Souad Belcaid on our AST teaching staff!



AST Board of Trustees Appoints 

Sarah Putnam to be Head of School

The American School of Tangier Board of Trustees has appointed Sarah Putnam to be its new Head of School, effective in July, 2015. Ms. Putnam is currently the Head of the International School of Aruba where she has worked since 2010.  Sarah has extensive experience in schools around the world and across the United States, as she has worked in China, Japan, the UK, and Aruba as well as in California, Montana, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

Ms. Putnam is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Fine Arts and has degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Montana.  While visiting Tangier, Sarah interviewed with students, faculty, parents, admin, trustees, and staff who were universally impressed by her poise, intelligence, and energy. 

Following is a copy of Ms. Putnam’s educational philosophy, submitted to the school as part of her application:

Educational Beliefs and Leadership Style

A great school is one where everyone is learning – students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and Board members. When people learn together, when minds meet in discourse and discovery, learning becomes a joyous activity, and knowledge a vitalizing force.

A good education provides students the knowledge, skills and dispositions for success in an undefined future, combined with reflective capacity and inspiration for life-long learning. It takes a great school to achieve this standard for all students. Great international schools enable all students to achieve their academic and personal best by providing a range of challenging experiences, as well as opportunities to experience the breadth of a global society. Great schools have an ethos of a joyful learning community wherein all students develop a clear sense of purpose and self, and experience success in high school and beyond.

A Head of School’s leadership must empower others while simultaneously holding them accountable for high standards of performance. As leader, I strive to create a flexible administrative environment that responds to recent data while adhering to long-term school goals.  I combine strength of purpose with collaboration, drawing on both intellectual and emotional intelligences to foster growth. As Head of School, I make bold decisions as required, yet also operate within the principle of subsidiarity enabling decisions to occur at the level of those affected whenever possible. I strive to formulate professional opinions through discourse, enabling board members, administrators, staff, students, and parents to be part of the decision-making process and the resultant course of action. Organizations are only as powerful as the learning communities they foster, and I focus much of my energies on creating a strong team environment.

When there is effective leadership in place, stakeholders of great schools are unified by a collective vision, and all see value in efforts to benefit the common good. The head of school must implement transparent processes in order to develop trust, which will create a positive learning environment, which will, in turn, translate into all students enabled to achieve their highest.

Ms. Putnam is in regular contact with Mr. Lussen and the two of them will work together to ensure a smooth transition. AST looks forward to welcoming Sarah Putnam as its 17th Head of School.


AST Newsletter  September 29, 2014

We’ve been at school for almost a month now, and many things are starting to happen around AST.  

Classes have settled in and are working hard; the faculty are busy working on their classes and on accreditation, sports teams are practicing, and parents are adjusting to the new Parent Portal in the Rediker system.

PARENTS!! While the response has been excellent to our request for parents to sign up, there are still quite a few parents who have not received their AST emails and instructions on how to use the Parent Portal.  Please take care of this as soon as you can.  You can drop by the computer lab between 8:30 and 9:30 or after school from 3:45 to 4:30 to get your email and some brief instructions.

Remember:  this is how we will be communicating with you from now on!

Rediker and AST Communication

About two-thirds of our parents have signed up for their AST emails and Parent Portal access, with more parents trickling in.  Teachers are posting homework and comments as well as behavior or “incident” reports as they occur.  The communication between teachers and parents/students through AST emails and the Parent/Student Portal is improving steadily.  Upper School students are now collaborating on line through the use of Google Calendar and Documents here at AST and with other students at schools around the world through such sites as “Poetry Genius,” introduced by Mr. Allen in his English classes.  The new Google Chrome lab will enable AST to conduct MAP testing without disrupting other classes in the Computer Lab, as well as being available for class and individual work.

With access to the Parent Portal parents can stay up-to-date with grades, behavior, and performance throughout the year.  Students will receive Progress Reports at midterm and Report Cards at the end of the term via the Parent Portal.  This change means ongoing, faster, and more accurate communication than ever before at AST.  With more parent buy-in and feedback we can improve this even more!

Student Activities


 Mr. Allen has his Drama Class working on some suitably chilling adaptations of programs from the classic American TV series “The Twilight Zone,” to be presented on October 30 and 31st, just in time for Halloween.  Mr. Allen is very happy with the energy and the progress that the Drama Class is already making.


Ms. Gregoire and her students in the Senior Seminar are working steadily to prepare their college and university applications.  Their blogs are up, many have their college lists already finished (or in progress), and two universities have visited already (American University of Paris and John Cabot University).  The seniors have also started their parent meetings with Ms. Gregoire and Mr. Lussen to go over their lists, plans, and financial aid information.

Senior Steering Committee:  Under the leadership of Ms. Gregoire the seniors have formed a Senior Steering committee which will help them plan their activities for the  year.  Members are Ouijdane Benajiba, Shreya Nebhwani, Ahmed Boughaba, Sadia El Ibrahimi, RachidMaillard, Beth Fallon, and Boutayna Hassoun.


Nabil Alami, our History Department Head, has started two clubs, the AST International Club and the AST Cinema Club.  The International Club will be working toward holding and International Cultural Day in February, which will include all students.  In addition to this, AST will be hosting our first Model UN Conference in Mid-April, inviting school from all over the region to participate.

The Cinema Club will host a film showing about twice a month in US 4, followed by discussions of the film(s) that are screened.

Mr. Alami has also been working with the Debate Class as they prepare for another successful season of debate competitions .  He has arranged with Mr. John Davison, the Director of the American Legation here in Tangier, to hold several tournaments at the Legation this year.


 Nour Amri, our Athletic Director, has scheduled the following tournaments for the fall:

· October 18: MASAC Middle School Basketball Tournament (girls at RAS / Boys at CAS)

· November 14-15: MASAC Varsity Volleyball Tournament at RAS

· November 27-30: ISA Varsity Soccer 7 at Browns (Portugal)

· December 13: MASAC track & Field at GWA

Head Search

At this writing the school has received a visit from one candidate and is awaiting a visit from our second candidate.  Sarah Putnam, currently the Head of the International School of Aruba, visited us last week and met with groups representing all of the school’s stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, administrators,  and trustees; she also visited classes and talked with many individuals.  Our second candidate, Mr. Dan Smith, Head of the Mosaica International School of Hyderabad (India), will come in to Tangier late on Tuesday night, September 30, and will join us for two days of interviews and meetings.  The Board of Trustees has sent out feedback surveys via Survey Monkey and will make their choice after getting feedback on Mr. White’s visit.

Planning Committee

AST’s new planning committee met for the first time Monday evening, September 29.  The Planning Committee consists of 21 students, teachers, parents, administrators, and trustees who will be working on two main projects this year:  Accreditation and the implementation of the AST Strategic Plan.  Karima Kadaoui  will chair this committee, Christina Al Masri will be the Vice Chair, and Lee Allen will be the scribe.  This committee will oversee the accreditation committee work, approve the Action Plans, and work toward the overall improvement of the school. 

Accreditation News

The AST Self-Study Committees have already begun to meet and are gathering information for the required Self Study of the school.  Each committee will be looking at the results of surveys sent out through SurveyMonkey to help identify weaknesses and possible areas of focus for our Action Plans, which will be approved by the Planning Committee and the Board of Trustees once they have been formulated.  It is our desire to have the surveys and other research completed as soon as possible, so that the school can  begin to work on the Action Plans, which will chart the course of the school over the next couple of years.  Many of the weaknesses identified in the original application for accreditation have already been addressed by the school (for example, the adoption of a standards-based curriculum), however there is still much to be done before our visit from the Middle States team.

Professional Development

MAIS Conference

Thanks to a generous grant from the Office of Overseas Schools, AST will be able to send seven staff members to the annual MAIS (Mediterranean Association of International Schools)Conference in Seville in November.  Day-long pre-conference workshops on MAP testing and on Accreditation will be followed by two days of shorter seminars and workshops covering a wide variety of pedagogical topics.  


In addition to MAIS, AST is also availing itself of professional development opportunities coming out of UNE’s Department of Education On-line courses, with one teacher already enrolled and another about to sign up for Master’s Degree and post-Master’s certificates.

Council of International Schools

Ms. Gregoire and Mr. Lussen will be attending this very important conference in Amsterdam in November.  The CIS conference brings together College Counselors and College Admissions representatives for a three-day conference of workshops, a college fair, and a school fair, all of which are critical in our college placement process. 


Parents may not be aware that the cafeteria was renovated last spring and that AST now has cafeteria service throughout the day, from 8:15-5:30, supplied by a local caterer.  So far there has been a good response from students and faculty alike, both in terms of the quality of the food and its variety.

AST Library

A library has always been considered to be the hub of a school.  So this year, our library is striving to provide a welcoming environment for teachers and students of all ages to come in to study, read, or work on computers (there is WIFI!) in a calm, relaxing atmosphere.

For research, in addition to Encyclopedia Britannica, two new data bases have been purchased: InfoTrac Student Edition for the upper school and Kids’ InfoBits for the lower school.  Ten new magazine subscriptions, to suit all ages and interests, have been ordered from the States.  They should start arriving next month.  And, of course, there are plenty new book titles catalogued and ready on the shelves.

More library classes for kindergarten through grade 4 have been added.  That means there is more time for read-aloud stories; research on the computers and from reference books; mini lessons on literature; and quiet reading in a comfortable spot in the specially allocated sitting area for the lower school.

So, if you have time, drop by.  Any suggestions you may have on how to keep improving our library to truly make it the hub of our school, are more than welcome!

EFL (ESL) Support in the Lower School

AST is now offering  EFL (English as a Foreign Language) support to the Lower School classes.  Najlae Derbadi, our Assistant Librarian, is also trained in teaching English to  young learners and is now conducting “pull-out” classes for our young students who have not had much opportunity to learn English prior to coming to AST, as well as providing support for students who are still struggling with the language.  AST is delighted to be able to offer this service to our community.

More Old ones CLICK HERE

Richard E. Lussen

Head of School
The American School of Tangier