ISS was established in 1955, to promote and advance excellence in education around the world by recruiting and cultivating international teachers, and founding and developing international schools. In the decades preceding the founding of ISS, many international schools were being established as the result of the increasing cooperation amongst countries initially brought about by the establishment of the League of Nations. The founder of ISS, Arthur Sweetser, was present at birth at the League of Nations at the Versailles Conference in Paris as a member of the American Peace Commission appointed by Woodrow Wilson. Education was very much a part of Arthur’s life as he was an emissary of the US Government promoting to the US population the virtues of countries working together for peace and the general betterment of mankind.
Prior to the founding of ISS, Arthur was a founding member of the International School of Geneva and of the United Nations International School in New York. Upon his retirement, Arthur spoke the following words to his colleagues in the United Nations: “You are working for all the ends that make life worthwhile on this planet – for peace, for the eradication of war, for human advancement, for human rights and decencies, for better living standards, better education, better travel and communications – in short, for the world as it ought to be.”
For more than 60 years, ISS has been dedicated to setting up, supplying and running high-quality international schools with everything needed to provide students with a world-class education. Since 1955, ISS has placed more than 40,000 educators around the globe; started and managed over 100 schools; developed standards-based language curriculum and supported other curricular innovations; connected over 2,000 school supply vendors with schools worldwide, and managed 75 school foundations.
ISS is at a pivotal point in its history. As a comprehensive, “one-stop” shop, we have always enjoyed a long-standing reputation for providing integrated services that were both high-quality and affordable. In recent years, the popularity of international education and the number of international schools have exploded. At the same time, international schools’ demographics have changed dramatically from serving exclusively expatriate ("ex pat") students to serving a growing number of local or “host country national” students who want a Western education that will prepare them for university study abroad and global careers.
In response to the changes in the international school market and growing competition in the sector, we recently completed a strategic plan that builds on ISS’s over sixty-year history serving international schools and reflects the evolution of both international schools and the broader world. Entitled “A Framework for the Future,” the plan identifies seven strategic priorities that focus on strengthening ISS’s core services, establishing strategic partnerships, and launching new initiatives – all with the aim of best supporting international schools and educators.