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Our History

Celebrating over 60 years of outstanding education, Nord Anglia International School Rotterdam has long been inspiring students to be principled and resourceful citizens of the world. In 2018, the school’s most exciting chapter yet was announced, and now, as part of Nord Anglia Education, The American International School of Rotterdam (AISR) became Nord Anglia International School Rotterdam (NAISR) - and momentum is building towards a very bright future. We are very proud of our School's 60+ year long history.

In 1959, a group of dedicated educators and parents showed courage and determination when they  organised an association, hired a teacher and founded an English language school in Rotterdam. These visionaries were Mrs. Henny Marie Wylacker Blauwkuip, Baron E.R.A Mackay from the American Express Co., Inc, Mr C. E Hosbach, employed with Caltex Petroleum and Mr. S Danby who worked with DuPont de Nemours.

Finding a facility in a war torn city was difficult, as one third of the school buildings were destroyed. But with the help and support of the Mayor, Mr G. E van Walsum, one classroom was made available in a municipal school. The American International School of Rotterdam (AISR) began with one teacher, fifteen students across eight different grade levels (Grades 1-8), and one classroom in a building at Bisschopstraat 2 in Blijdorp.  In August it was still not sure if there would be enough students to start the school in September on an economically sound basis. However, with the post-war growth of American families brought to the area by the U.S. Military and the rapidly expanding Port of Rotterdam, there was an influx of American firms and companies. This, of course, led to an increase in the number of American families, so there was more than enough response to the school’s application forms, and by October of 1959, the need to hire a second teacher was evident. 

The school was also outgrowing its one room and was in need of a larger facility. So during the Christmas vacation of 1959, AISR moved to the “Martin Behaim Haus” at ‘s-Gravendijkwal 50-52, Rotterdam. Here they shared the space with the Netherlands-German cultural institution, where AISR rented a large room for the school.

This location was sufficient for a time, but once again, by the Easter break, even more space was needed. As AISR could not rent additional rooms from the German school, it underwent a third move within a year. They unpacked their supplies into three classrooms in the Rotterdamse Schoolvereniging at Schiedamsesingel 155. At this time, a third teacher was added to the staff to assist in teaching the 42 students at AISR. But, the stay at Schiedamsesingel would not be for long as these rooms could only be used until the Summer break; just two months later, they were once again looking for a ‘bigger’ home.

School Locations 1-3

The municipality of Rotterdam offered a building in Hillegersberg, located at Hillegondastraat 21-25 and this became the school’s home for 35 years! All students were welcomed each day by the shark mural in the main entrance hallway. This cozy building from 1927 was full of character. It had a gymnasium with stained glass windows and narrow stairs that led to the music room. 

In 1982, AISR earned the distinction of becoming the first school in the Netherlands to receive the award of accreditation from the European Council of International Schools (ECIS). This award was the result of a thorough self-evaluation process in which school board members worked with the teaching staff to prepare an assessment of the major strengths of the school and the areas of improvement. The school has maintained this high standard and will continue to do so in the future.

Location #4

In the Spring of 1995, although the character of the old school building would be missed, the school then moved one last time to a new building at Verhulstlaan 21 in Hillegersberg.  AISR joined the Japanese School of Rotterdam in sharing the facilities of the International Education Center, the first joint school effort between Japan and the United States in a European setting. Each school maintained its own approach, yet actively shares resources to help children develop in and learn from the cross-cultural multilateral societies of today’s world. The school held a special opening ceremony with honored guests, Mayor Peper and the Prince of Orange, Willem-Alexander (now King Willem-Alexander).

  • Opening Ceremony #1
  • Opening Ceremony #2
  • Opening Ceremony #3
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  • Opening Ceremony #5

On May 29, 1996, the Consulate General, John W. Shearburn, unveiled the statue called ‘Reaching Out’, on the school courtyard. These statues were given to AISR by Patricia Erickson and Sheila Gazeleh-Weevers through the William K. Gordon Foundation. ‘Reaching Out’ are two bronze statues about 1.6 meters high, resembling two children extending hands out to one another. The sculptor, Carla Rutgers, depicts the children reaching out to one another symbolizing the joining of the two schools to form the International Education Center. At the ceremony unveiling the statues, the children of the two schools sang together ‘Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand’ and ‘It’s a Small World’.

Reaching Out

In 1997, the AISR library was dedicated in honor of Mr. Robert Domey, to recognise the many years that he had been part of AISR’s development. Mr Domey started with the school in 1980 as a member of the school board, including five years as the Board Chair. 

After 36 years of being an elementary school from grades PK-8, AISR took a big step and decided to extend the learning levels into the high school years. It was unsure as to whether the high school would be able to succeed as the student enrollment was very low. In fact, in the first year, there were a few months when the high school had just one student in the ninth grade. Yet, AISR continued to expand and accredit its grade levels one year at a time, and by the school’s 40th anniversary, for the first time in the school’s history, AISR had its first Grade 12 class.

Adding the high school was only the beginning for the school. To continue to attract students at the high school level and enhance the future of AISR, the IB Programme was needed. In 1999, AISR attained IB status, becoming a full member of the International Baccalaureate Organization and authorized to teach the full IB Diploma Programme from September 1, 1999. 

In the year 2000, as we entered a new millenium, AISR celebrated its first class of graduates. This class was very symbolic as it signified just how far AISR had come over the 40 years since it first opened.

For over fifty years, AISR and the US Army had a close relationship and this mutually beneficial partnership thrived. In 2012, the military presence in the area declined significantly, with the US Army and US Coast Guard leaving the Rotterdam area. This resulted in an immediate, last minute and unexpected loss of over 40 American students at AISR. 

The school began to look for private investors and also began to focus on becoming more internationally minded, catering for a much more culturally-diverse population. Finally, in order to expand opportunities and offer a broader service for families, AISR opened an on site child care centre, Funtazia International Child Care, in January 2014.  Funtazia catered to babies and todlers from 0-4 years of age; meaning that the campus could then care for children from 0 right up to 19 years of age. 

IB and Funtazia

In 2018, the American International School of Rotterdam became a proud member of Nord Anglia Education, a world leading premium schools organization.

Joining the Nord Anglia family in July 2018 was a momentous occasion for AISR. Our ambition was to seize this wonderful opportunity by aligning the quality of the school’s educational offering with NAE’s global norms, whilst also retaining the warm and welcoming culture that make the school so special and unique.

Over the course of 2019, we experienced some exciting changes and improvements, which included a name change from AISR to NAISR - Nord Anglia International School Rotterdam, a new and improved website, and our beloved Shark mascot even received a fabulous makeover.

There were significant improvements to our facilities, which included a new playground, a maker-space area, new bathrooms, an updated early childhood area and more. Being a part of the Nord Anglia family means that our students are now connected to over 60.000 students from other Nord Anglia schools around the world to collaborate, discuss and learn together via the Global Campus. Our teachers have access to the Nord Anglia University, an online platform which offers access to extensive professional development resources. NAISR also now proudly offers Nord Anglia’s leading edge STEAM programme (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics), which was co-developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Sharks Logos

NAISR continues to offer the same quality international education for 3-18 year olds, from the International Primary Curriculum right through to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

In August 2019, NAISR celebrated its 60th anniversary outside on our new playground, with delicious food trucks, a DJ, facepainting and more. The entire community was invited and everyone enjoyed this momentous celebration.

This exciting new chapter in our school’s history is a welcome addition to Rotterdam’s international school offering. NAISR’s engaging, welcoming and inclusive environment is one to watch as it continues to go from strength to strength.  Go Sharks!

60th Birthday Party

Directors at AISR/NAISR

2012-2020   Neal Dilk

2011-2012   Anne-Marie Blitz (Interim)

2009-2011   Graham Gamble

2003-2009   Brian Atkins

2002-2003   Gail Shoppert (Interim)

1996-2002   Alan Conkey

1988-1996   Robert Werner

1983-1988   Dos Johnson

1979-1983   Gerald Manker

1977-1979   Donald Ballentine

1976-1977   Michael Gotwols

1975-1976   Lynn Cadwell

1968-1975   Tony Vadala

1966-1968   Maria Tuinman

1960-1961   Professor Oakleigh Ross Bush

1959-1960   Anna Marie Nieuwdorp-Kylstra