THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF NIAMEY, FORMERLY THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF NIAMEY, BEGAN IN 1982 AS A PART-TIME ENTITY DESIGNED TO SUPPLEMENT THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM OF AMERICAN STUDENTS ATTENDING THE LOCAL FRENCH SCHOOLS.
In 1983 the school began its full-time operation with fourteen students enrolled in grades one through eight. Within three years, enrollment climbed to one hundred and twenty-four students, and the school moved to its present site on land provided by the US Embassy.
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the school in 1987, the last building was completed in September 1988, and in 1989 enrollment peaked at one hundred and fifty-three students from grades K-8 from twenty-one different countries.
By 1998, the school had taken over the management and operation of the former American Employees Recreation Center on the AISN grounds. Renamed the American International School of Niamey Recreational Center, or AISNRC, the center provides sports and recreational facilities along with food and drink to its members. Facilities include a pool, tennis courts, basketball court, a grass athletic field, and a restaurant & bar. Special activities are also organized to take place on these grounds.
In the mid 1990′s, USAID and ICRISAT withdrew from Niger, and the enrollment of the school dropped considerably. Between the 1998-2000 AISN experienced a forty-eight percent drop in enrollment due, in large part, to a substantial reduction in the expatriate population in Niger following the assassination of then President Baré.
Severe cuts in staff were necessary to accommodate the reduction in tuition-based revenues. In addition, the entire academic program and grade configuration for the school came under close examination. While changes to the program involved hard work and a degree of sacrifice, the focus on students remained the priority. As a result, the school was able to continue with specialists in the areas of math, physical education and art. Programs in music and French were actually expanded and improved upon in the wake of the enrollment decline. ESL classes and tutorial opportunities for students with special needs were retained. Throughout the fall of 1999, AISN’s goals were reviewed and modified during a series of work sessions involving parents, staff, and the Board of Directors.
Families are attracted to AISN for several reasons. Foremost is the American curriculum and accreditation. Other characteristics include the American philosophy of education, English as the instructional language, the employment of trained and experienced teachers, the quality and diversity of the educational materials, the quality of the facilities, its positive reputation within the community, its acceptance of international diversity, and its relationship with the community.
In April 2005, the AISN Association approved adding “International” to the school name to better reflect the composition of the school. Enrollment rose from 40 to 80 students between 2005 and 2008.
Following an accreditation visit in 2008, AISN became fully committed to implementing curriculum standards based on the AERO standards in all subject areas. In addition, an updated progress report was produced, addressing each of the principle goals since the last accreditation report.
In August 2009, AISN began the process of updating its access to technology to better serve the administrative team as well as the staff and students., and upgraded services to include the AISN Rec Center.
During the 2009-2010 school year, the sixty-two students enrolled in Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 represented thirteen nationalities from around the world: Niger, Togo, Spain, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Liberia, India, Germany, France, Benin, Belgium and the United States. The international and multicultural makeup of the AISN student body continues to be a wonderful asset for the school. The AISN staff has always dedicated itself to providing optimal learning opportunities that take into account our diverse population.
Until 2009, AISN taught high school through correspondence by enrolling students in the University of Nebraska Independent High School correspondence program; individually-tailored core academic subjects were offered online while students continued to participate in the physical education, music, and art classes offered within the regular school program. In 2009, AISN began offering direct teaching for grades 10 and 11 and in 2013 AISN achieved accreditation for the high school upon the addition of grade 12.
In February 2010, a military coup that lasted approximately five hours removed President Tandja from office after he tried to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limits. In March 2011, Niger elected Mahmadou Issoufou to lead the country back to civilian rule. Unfortunately, in January 2011, two French hostages were kidnapped in Niamey and killed in a rescue attempt. At that time, the Peace Corps suspended operation in Niger.
In 2011, enrollment remained low and class sizes at AISN remained small allowing for a close and attentive teacher-student relationship. With a population of 45 students, learners were grouped together in multi-age classrooms as follows: PK-2, grades 3-5, middle school, and high school. Class size varies from 8 – 12 students per class.
In 2012 AISN increased enrollment drastically due to the hard work and dedication of the Board of Trustees, Director, and staff. AISN has been able to maintain small classes sizes and remain true to the mission even though the enrollment numbers continue to increase.
In March of 2013, AISN hosted a visit from the Middle States Association to seek additional grades approval for Grades 10-12. Additional Grades Accreditation was granted in the summer of 2013 and now AISN is fully accredited from PreK - Grade 12.
In January of 2015, AISN created a PTA (Parent Teacher Association) to support families and build community within the school. Many outstanding events and activities have been hosted by the PTA. In 2017 the PTA developed and approved by-laws and policies to help better define the role of the PTA. The PTA continues to support the school and its mission today.
In April of 2015, AISN hosted a team of visitors from the Middle States Association for a full self-study and 7 year re-accreditation visit. The visit was a positive and affirming one and the visiting team recommended re-accreditation.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, the US Embassy announced some significant changes to the US Embassy compound on which the school is located. These new facility upgrades began in 2016 and completed on campus in 2019 significantly improving the school's facilities including a new secure entrance and landscaped parking, new tennis courts with lights and improvements to our athletic field. To coincide with this work AISN, working with a local architect, began the process of upgrading other facilities to compliment the embassy's project to include a new administration building, new Nursery school facility, new student bathrooms, new kitchen and cafeteria, new covered basketball court with lights, new art room, new science room, and lights for our athletic field. AISN classroom furniture has also been acquired and these campus' upgrades continue to serve and enhance our learning environment into the future.
The school instituted the MAP Test of Basic Skills beginning in the 2016 school year which measures academic skills and progress in Reading, English Language, Math, and Science. AISN uses the results of these tests to drive classroom instruction and measure periodic student progress. MAP tests are currently done twice in the Fall and Spring.
In 2017 AISN implemented a full review of the courses offered in the high school with the goal of moving towards a block schedule offering a selection of courses to fit the school’s diverse student population. Through a partnership with VHS (The Virtual High School) AISN added the option of taking AP level courses and exams.
In 2019 AISN added two new positions to the AISN leadership team, The Deputy Director/College Counselor, and Director of Learning Support. These new positions at AISN help to continue the strategic goal for building more capacity for matriculation into high education and supporting students with mild to moderate learning disabilities.
In March of 2020 AISN, along with the rest of the world found itself in the midst of a global pandemic. The school director with help and support from the board of trustees developed risk management plans and protocols for both mitigation and distance learning. Distance Learning protocols were implemented and school closed for in person learning on March 19th, 2020. The AISN Faculty worked hard to finish the school year online in support of our student body around the world.
On August 29th, 2020 AISN reopened for in person learning with a staggered start. Based on recommendations from the CDC and local health care workers AISN put in place a strict mitigation policy, stopped all non essential activity on campus and limited community involvement at the AISN recreation center. On December 14th AISN had its first positive cases on campus forcing the school to close again and switch to distance learning as school entered the winter break. AISN reopened for in person learning January 25th, 2021 after a two week period of distance learning to accommodate quarantine requirements.
As AISN enters its next phase of re-accreditation in 2022, it’s teachers and staff remain committed to the development of a school focused on students and learning. With excellent faculty and staff who work based on mission, philosophy. and goals, AISN will once again grow in size and quality. As we commit to the accreditation process and revitalization of our mission, philosophy, goals, and professional practice. We will continue to look at student learning and how to support teachers to reflect and modify their practice for even better results. AISN seeks to create an outstanding international school experience, celebrating the character of its community and the rich local culture.