The American School of Niamey opened for the 1983-84 school year and offered a K-8 American style school program. The school was located in a house on the other side of Niamey from our current campus. Bedrooms were classrooms, the living-room was the library, the garden was utilized for physical education, and the Director’s office was in the kitchen. In only its second year, the school grew to 88 students, and the need for a proper school facility became more apparent.
An opportunity to meet this requirement arose courtesy of a grant of land within the compound of the US Embassy. A committee of parents and other interested community members designed the buildings, ordered materials, hired workers, and supervised the construction. We moved during the 1985-86 school year to the current site of our campus. The school now had purpose-built classrooms, a lunch room, offices, and a substantial recreational area. During the 1986-87 school year, the building which houses our current library was completed and during the fall of 1988 the main courtyard was completed with the addition of the kindergarten building. This courtyard still makes-up the core of our educational facility. By 1990, our school grew to have 153 students.
In the spring of 1988, another major milestone was passed when we were accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). MSA-CESS is an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of secondary education and which verifies that schools are meeting a defined set of research-based performance standards.
In 1998, our school took over the operation of the American Employees Recreation Center, which was already housed within our grounds and shared with the school. Known today as the “Rec-Center,” it provides sports facilities (pool, tennis, basketball and a grass athletic field) alongside a restaurant for dining and social events for its members.
Towards the late 1990s, many organizations withdrew family postings in Niger due to political instability and safety concerns. This saw a substantial reduction in the expatriate population and therefore caused a considerable drop of enrolment at the school. Over the next 15 years, our student population decreased steadily to a low point of only 40 students. With some inventive staffing adjustments and, where needed, the amalgamation of students into multi-age classrooms, the school weathered this period of uncertainty. We are proud to say that while changes to the program involved hard work, extensive demands on our community resources, and degrees of sacrifice, the focus on students always remained our priority. The school survived and started a journey of progress, the outcomes of which we see today.
In 2005, the AISN Association approved adding “International” to the school name to better reflect the composition of the school. Enrolment rose to 80 students by 2008 and in the past few years, our population has settled at a consistent body of approximately 100 students.
High school classes during the first 25 years of the school were offered through the University of Nebraska Independent High School correspondence program which allowed our students to take core academic subjects, along with supporting specialist classes (physical education, music and art) on campus. By 2009, this arrangement had evolved into a direct teaching offer for high school core subjects, a significant progression which was recognized by our accreditation authority. By 2013, the MSA fully accredited the school from PreK through grade 12, and again in 2015 for a period of 7 years during our self-study, re-accreditation visit. Furthermore, since 2017 (through a partnership with The Virtual High School (VHS)), students have the additional option to take AP level courses and exams.
Whilst the school was making notable strides forward in respect of learning and teaching during this period, so did our wider community. A PTA was created and has become a powerhouse of school event sponsorship and organization, holding many outstanding events and activities throughout the academic year. Additionally, the US Embassy announced some significant changes to their compound on which our school is located. These upgrades included the entrance, parking provision, and improvements to the athletic facilities. To coincide with this construction, the school began the process of upgrading its own facilities to complement those of the embassy. This included building a new administration building, a nursery school facility, student washrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, a covered basketball court, and changes to the art and science rooms. These campus upgrades were completed in 2019 and continue to serve and enhance our learning environment as well as serving our wider community.
As AISN enters its next phase of MSA re-accreditation in 2023, the teachers and staff remain committed to the development of a school focused on students and learning. Working from the basis of a clear mission, a defined philosophy of education and a set of targeted improvement goals, AISN will create an ever more outstanding international school experience that celebrates both the character of its community and the rich local culture.