History of AISL
During the early part of 1965, the Tacoma School District was invited to participate in a new international education project sponsored jointly by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the Office of Overseas Schools (OOS), Department of State. The project proposal in that initial year was to match thirty-two American private, nonmilitary international schools overseas with a similar number of strong stateside school districts.
The primary purpose of these matching's was to make the materials and human resources of the U.S. school district available to the overseas school to assist it in strengthening its educational program. In turn, the school district would gain an international connection for its own program.
This new project was the outgrowth of a study led by Dr. Finis Engleman, Harvard professor and AASA Executive Director, in cooperation with the Office of Overseas Schools, Department of State leaders. Dr. Engleman and a carefully selected team of American educators journeyed around the world to make onsite visits to American international schools. More than 125 of these schools had been identified by OOS and most of these school sites were visited by the Engleman team.
Upon completion of their study, the team submitted a report to the AASA Board and to OOS. They recommended that a program be developed which would establish formal partnerships between American school districts and international schools. Tacoma was invited to become one of the stateside partners.
In late 1964, Dr. Engleman and Dr. Paul Buebke (of OOS) visited Tacoma for an orientation of the project and to assist in the selection of Tacoma's overseas partner. A task force of Tacoma staff members participated in the orientation. Tacoma was given a choice of five possible partners. The American International School of Lagos, Nigeria was selected because of the following criteria:
- The Tacoma School District was vigorously building school programs which would improve the educational opportunity for minority children and youth, especially African-Americans. A partnership with an American international school in a nation with a predominately black population would enhance the local effort to desegregate Tacoma's schools.
- There was a need in Tacoma's social studies curriculum to overcome stereotypes about Africa. Nigeria was looked upon as the leading African country in the emergence from tribal and colonial life into modern society as an independent nation.
- The description of the American International School of Lagos captured interest. It was a new school and needed support to survive.
The American International School of Lagos has the mission of providing students some of the best educational experiences offered in the United States. The necessary tie with United States education is derived from the transience of many families in Lagos whose children will ultimately return to educational institutions in the United States. Concurrently, the cultural advantages of a Lagos location are captured through enhancing the backgrounds of Tacoma staff and enriching Tacoma's curriculum through exposure to the world community. In 1996, the American International School of Lagos approached the Klein School District in Houston Texas to broaden the scope of the school to school partnership. This school to school partnership has supplemented the existing relationship with the Tacoma School District and together gave A.I.S.L. a greater link to recruiting, curriculum improvements, and professional development.
From the beginning of the AIS-Tacoma relationship, Tacoma has held that the District is to be more than a source for recruitment. The resources of the District are available to AIS, according to the needs and desires of the AIS Board of Directors. Tacoma's role has been to provide support and resources at the discretion of the AIS Board while respecting the need to AIS to maintain its autonomy and uniqueness.