Several U.S. Embassy families, who wished to provide an American curriculum, English language education for their children, founded the International School of Ouagadougou in September 1976.
In its first year the school was a correspondence program located in a room in the American Employees Recreation Center.
After the first year, the parents decided to hire Susan Martz, a former Peace Corps volunteer. The school continued to grow and moved into other rental facilities on Avenue Raoul Follereau, which was the home of the school for the next fourteen years.
In September 1979 the school changed again. Bob and Linda Sills became Director and teacher for the next two years. They improved the curriculum and facilities. More students came to ISO.
The next Director, David Chojnacki, brought the first computers to an international school in Africa. The school rented a second building on the corner of the airport road and Follereau.
Under the directorship of Mr. Presswood, Mr. Larson and Mr. Vogel, the school continued to develop in the 1980s. Another milestone in the school’s history was the granting of official recognition in Upper Volta by the Ministry of National Education in March 1984.
ISO was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in 1984 and incorporated in the state of Delaware, USA in 1986.
In 1988, the primary building was renovated to increase instructional space and to provide space for a pre-kindergarten program. Enrollment continued to grow over the next ten years from 12 to 95 students.
In the late 1980s, ISO’s friendship with the village of Ymindi developed and strengthened. A well was developed in cooperation with the government of the Netherlands. Niamey exchange weekends and field trips to Nazinga became part of the program.
Through a request submitted by US Ambassador Neher in August 1986, the school was granted a site in Zogona in May 1988. The Mayor of Ouagadougou authorized ISO to occupy the site in November 1988.
In September and October 1990, ISO began to discuss possibilities of building on the new site in Zogona. An architect was hired to conduct a feasibility study. Over the next several months plans were completed and construction of the wall began in January 1991. By May 1991, the wall, P.E. changing rooms, and a grass softball diamond were complete. The Sofanwet regional softball tournament was held at the new school site.
During the next six months the major buildings were constructed. The school moved from its former site during the Christmas break, and classes resumed on the new campus in January 1992.
Some of the Rec Club facilities were also constructed at this time as well. The Canadian government assisted in the completion of recreational facilities with additional funding. A buy-a-tree planting project was started to enhance the grounds. Parents, students, staff, and Friends of ISO contributed to the greening of the ISO campus.
The construction costs and a decline in enrollment created a heavy burden. However, through the efforts of Director Dr. Bernard Holler and the Board, the financial issues were resolved. ISO continued to thrive and improve its facilities and programs as well as reach out to the greater community. Under the U.S. self-help program and through the initiative of Dr. Holler, a gristmill was obtained for ISO’s partner village, Ymindi.
Under the directorship of Mr. Stanley Way, ISO was re-accredited as a quality school by the Middle States Association, and adopted the IB Middle Years Program. The school added another classroom building in February 1996. ISO hosted the Special Olympics, sports competitions with neighborhood sports clubs and schools, and held numerous fundraisers for community service projects. ISO offered English as a foreign language for the community at large. The computer lab was updated and a new course called Dogomik was introduced for studies on Burkina Faso. There were 110 students from over 20 different nations.
During the 1997-2000 directorship of Mr. Steven Asp, enrollments were high and cash reserves became available to construct the middle/high school building. Funding for the initial grass field was obtained with the assistance of the US Department of Overseas Schools. The Middle Years Program was left open-ended in favor of a middle school approach. The Middle States Association approved the 9th grade program. A formal teacher evaluation system was instituted. The first ISO website was designed and implemented. A partnership with AMPO was established to provide financial assistance and cultural exchange.
Under the directorship of Patrick Meyer, the playing field was grassed and further developed with school funding. With A/OS grant funding,
a new well and water tower were developed along with a suppressor and new watering system for the field
- a set of two speed bumps were installed for pedestrian traffic safety
- the exteriors of all buildings were refurbished
- the basketball, tennis, and squash courts were repaired and repainted
- the 20-meter tiled pool replaced ISO’s 12-meter plastic-lined swimming pool at the Recreational Club.
This decade marked great growth and improvement for ISO:
- The computer lab, library, and administrative/staff room areas were networked. Internet access was included in the computer lab networking.
- A power generator was acquired with the assistance of the government of the Netherlands and connected to three classroom complexes (Preschool, K/1, and science lab), the Library Media and Computer building, and the Admin building.
- A software program for student grade reporting was locally developed and implemented.
- Security was improved with student ID Cards, metal gates, a new alarm system, and phones at two main gates.
- Middle States Association approved grade 10, 11, & 12 in the Ascending Protocol as the University of Nebraska Correspondence Program was phased out completely at the end of the 2000-2001 school year.
- The pre-school and kindergarten program was revitalized with greater enrollment, and high school enrollment increased substantially each year as the full high school program was instituted with Middle States Association accreditation approval.
- A Strategic Planning Survey was conducted and Strategic Planning Goals established.
ISO celebrated its 25th Anniversary in February 2002 with ceremonies, speeches and an International day to emphasize its cultural diversity. This event reinforced ISO’s continued importance in the community for providing vital educational services to the dependents of governmental, NGO, and private personnel stationed in Ouagadougou.
Larry Ethier arrived in 2005 to be our new director. Larry and Deb, a Canadian couple, came from an international school in Kenya. Deb was a seasoned elementary teacher and joined our staff. Their warmth and enthusiasm was appreciated by many. The school continued to grow in number and in academic excellence.
During the Ethier’s time at ISO from 2005-2008, the basketball court was covered and renovated to provide a much needed multi-purpose area. This provided a large well-lit area for basketball and volleyball, as well as productions, assemblies and gatherings.
Our Administration building was renovated to a 2 story building to provide much needed space including reception area, offices, a medical room, bathrooms and a larger staff lounge.
Our Music and Drama department expanded in the development of the black box theatre. During this time we enjoyed the high school productions of Oliver, Ebenezer and also Grease.
The scholarship program at ISO was initiated by Larry Ethier. This program made it possible for 2 students each year from the Burkinabe community to receive an academic scholarship based on their own high academic achievements up to grade 8 in a local school. Larry was decorated by the Minister of Education in the Spring of 2008 for his initiatives. This program continues to this day.
Under the directorship of Glenn Jones (2008-2011), a significant addition to ISO facilities came with the completion of the two-storied Upper School building in 2010. This structure houses a large auditorium, science labs and lab tech office, computer labs and IT department, seven large classrooms, offices, numerous storage spaces, washroom facilities and a student center. Upon completion, the art room found a new home in the science lab next to the administration building.
ISO expanded its community outreach by inviting participation from community teachers in the Teachers Teaching Teachers (T3) workshop. Medical field trips, under the guidance of the Pam Lafi hospital became part of the new community service graduation requirement. A housing complex in Zone du Bois was completed for our foreign teaching staff in 2011.
Mr. Sean Goudie (2011-2016) joined ISO as School Director in 2011 and under his supervision the school lengthened its strides in areas of teacher, administrative and Board professional development. A commitment to community involvement was reflected in an addition to the school mission statement and supporting activities. The safety and security of students greatly improved with the construction of regulated entry and safer pedestrian and parking areas among other campus-wide initiatives and policies. In 2014 ISO achieved MSA reaccreditation and in the same year developed a new seven-year strategic plan to consolidate improvements to teaching and learning through a coherent alignment of educational frameworks and purpose-built facilities. Other significant introductions came in the form of the Moodle Learning Management System, the Keystone Student Information System and a more fully functional school website. A new Internet satellite link and the strategic purchase of digital learning tools greatly enhanced an integrated approach to educational technology across both the Elementary and Upper schools.
Our current Director, Mr Jean-Luc Aupoix (2016-) comes to us with a wealth of experience, having worked in international schools for many years.