AIS Head of School eCommuniqué - Le 14 juillet 2021
Dear AIS Community,
I hope that this message finds you all safe, healthy, and above all happy during this well-deserved summer break! In this mid-summer Head of School eCommuniqué, I would like to share some important summer highlights for our community.
Since the reign of Charlemagne in the 8th century, France has placed an importance on academia and the provision of rigorous education for its populace—a value that continues to ring true today. While there have been many iterations of educational institutions in France over the centuries, the French Revolution of 1789 marked an important philosophical turning point in education in France. As a result of educational reforms in the years following the popular uprising, education in France became secular, free, and compulsory for all children.
French schools have existed around the world for centuries (e.g., Berlin since 1689, New York since 1817, and London since 1915). As the world has grown smaller, the need for strong intercultural communicators has become larger. So too has the demand for rigorous academics that develop not only strong students, but kind, empathic, autonomous, and creative people who can confront the challenges of today and tomorrow. Since July 1990, the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) has ensured the support of academic excellence in nearly 500 French curriculum schools around the globe, continuing the revolutionary tradition of bringing open, engaging, and challenging academics to all people. As an AEFE accredited institution since 2007, AIS has been fortunate to benefit from this support.
Today is July 14th, the day of our Fête Nationale in France. It is a day to pause and recognize the many accomplishments of the French Republic over the centuries, including our commitment to educated, enlightened, and enriched individuals. I can think of no better occasion than today than to share with our AIS community that after many years in the making, AIS has been awarded final and full accreditation for its middle school program by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE)! Accreditation (homologation) of 7th and 8th grades (5e et 4e) marks the culmination of five years of dedicated work by our fantastic team of educators, administrators, and board members. After establishing itself as the only accredited French elementary school in Central Texas in 2007, AIS now adds to its accolades as the only accredited French middle school in the region. In fact, we are only the third French school in the State of Texas to have achieved this great feat.
The start of next school year (la rentrée) will mark another important year at AIS—a record year for enrollment and the launch of a new program. In August 2021, we will be welcoming over sixty new students to our campus. In fact, we were pleased to welcome many new AIS families through a Bastille Day event on campus today, during which we met new faces, established new connections, and made new friendships. Several of our incoming students have joined AIS through our new Français Langue Étrangère (FLE) program in Cycle 2. Through FLE, new 1st through 3rd grade students with little to no French will be able to work with a specialist teacher as they ramp up their language skills and adjust to learning in full French immersion. We are excited to join the ranks of other top French schools with the addition of FLE in Cycle 2. More importantly, however, we proud to better serve the Austin community through our vision, mission, and core values by opening access to our unique academic program to children ages 6 through 8!
While accreditation carries many responsibilities for schools, it also provides many benefits. As a result of our status as an accredited school, AIS was able to successfully navigate last year—a year that was difficult for all institutions. Our work was supported by local, state, and federal agencies, as well as multiple agencies from overseas. In addition to substantive grants from the City of Austin and the Agency for French Education Abroad, AIS was recently awarded a very significant grant through the US federal government’s Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program. This grant will go a very long way to helping AIS successfully manage continued adjustments during the pandemic and will support our ongoing commitment of being informed, prepared, and safe as we navigate this global event together. Of course, none of this support would have been possible without our status as a fully accredited institution.
Our past has been bright and our future us even brighter. Over the past year, members of our community connected to discuss and review our vision, mission, and core values, and from this emanated our revised profile of graduates. We will continue our celebration of two decades of excellence to the Austin community as we use our revised vision, mission, and values as a launchpad into an exciting strategic planning year led by our school's governing body. It is my continued pleasure and honor to serve as Head of School as we embark together on our 21st year of service to the Austin community. Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support and commitment to our community!
It’s hard to believe it, but if you check the school calendar, we are only five weeks away from the first day of the new school year! Until then, please remember to relax, read, learn, and above all, have fun. I wish you a wonderful rest of the summer break!
Mr. Jacques A. Weber, M.Ed.
Head of School/Chef d'Établissement