Crucial for Amsterdam
The International School of Amsterdam was established towards the end of the unique period of American world leadership that followed World War ll. President Eisenhower’s restraint and President Kennedy’s idealism and successful space program, when added to the American contribution to the liberation and reconstruction of Europe, had earned the United States great respect, especially amongst the older generation, who generally accepted and valued the American role in the world. By the 1960s, the hard years of immediate post-war recovery had been superseded by a period of economic growth and booming international investment. There was a new prosperity.
Many international businesses of many nations were confronted by the need to provide their highly mobile executive families with suitable educational opportunities for their children. Hence, corporate leaders often took the initiative in establishing international schools, as in Amsterdam. Leading members of the worlds of business, diplomacy, and education came together to solve a practical problem, which was in fact a global problem with some interesting local variations, as in the Netherlands. The Hague had become the most active centre in providing American schooling, largely because of the large [numbers of] diplomatic and military personnel stationed there at the time. The availability of English-language schooling had led the commercial community “to give preference to The Hague in the establishment of their Dutch- or European-based subsidiaries or offices.”
Thus the establishment of ISA had been important, even crucial, for the commercial development of Amsterdam. Among other points, the availability of ISA was “one of the reasons why the city of Amsterdam was favored over other locations as a center for Japanese business activity in Europe”.
While many had attempted to establish an English-language international school in Amsterdam, it was not until 1964, through the energetic and persuasive activity of Mr. A. Uyttenbroek, then Managing Director of IBM, that the Mayor and key municipal officials of the City of Amsterdam agreed to the establishment of an International School, and two rooms of an existing Dutch school at Winterdijkstraat 8 were made available to this end. “The timetable included arithmetic, reading, writing, scripture, and art in the first grade”. In the higher grades, pupils studied English, social studies, general science, and French. Physical training was taken “with the corresponding grades in the Dutch school”, and there were handicraft classes “for the girls”.
The principal by now was Mrs. Dorothy Vincent. There were 117 pupils from 16 countries, nine grades, and six additional classrooms at 77 Vechtstraat. Special instruction was provided for non English-speaking children, and there was an extra-curricular course in Japanese “for the increasing number of that country’s children whose fathers have set up businesses in North Holland”. Employees of over 60 different international firms had sent their children to the school since it opened.