International School Manila

Integrity - Service - Merit


Historical Timeline

IN 1920, a group of American and British expatriates living in Manila founded a school whose singular aim was to provide their children with a curriculum that was comparable to that of American schools of that time. The American School opened its doors to students on June 21, 1920 on 606 Taft Avenue, a converted church building. What started as an ambitious undertaking with humble beginnings, with eight teachers and fifty students, is now a fully-fledged international institution with over 2,200 students from over 80 nationalities on a 7-hectare property. Clearly, such transformation did not happen overnight. 95 years of school history were punctuated with changes that were both present inside school walls and in the larger environs of its host country. Borrowing words from the Eclipse, a former magazine publication of the Bamboo Telegraph, "to chronicle the history of International School Manila is to chart the course of the Philippines in the 20th century."



On March 4, 1920 an article in the Manila Times announced the incorporation of the American School, Inc. A group of these American and British “indigenous expatriates” established the school and opened on June 21, 1920 on 606 Taft Avenue, a loaned church building, with eight teachers, fifty children, Grades 1-12.
1921 On May 06, Frances Henley replaced Leila Brown as the American School (AS) Principal.


In 1922, AS was forced to move to another location: 115 Padre Faura Street (between Mabini and MH Del Pilar Sts. in Manila), an old Spanish style house where they stayed until 1928.
1923 The first formal graduation is held with three female students making up the Senior Class: Helen Leas, Virginia Rosenstock and Elizabeth Gilmore.
1925 Beatrice Grove became the new Principal of the American School and stayed on for 11 years. 1925 marked the inception of the first Student Senate.
1928 The American School moved to 1259 MH Del Pilar Street, a large rambling Spanish style colonial home. With Spanish as a core subject, Senorita Maria Luisa Martinez was hired to teach the language and stayed for 47 years.
1930 The American Indian became the AS symbol.
1933 The Board of Trustees began the search for a new property for the American School as enrollment increased.
Glenn Miller became the first male, overseas expatriate hire as Principal of the American School.
The Bamboo Telegraph is launched as the official school newspaper.
1937 Just after the Christmas holidays of 1936, the school moved again; this time to a campus on Donada Street.
1939 Heilbronn Hall is completed and named in honor of J.P. Heilbronn who donated Php 50,000 to the school. The first yearbook, named the Bamboo was printed, only to be re-named the Kawayan in 1940.
1940 The Scouts made up the largest after-school extra-curricular group at school.
1941 Lois Croft became Principal.  On December 07, 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed as Japan declared war.
1942 On January 02, 1942 Japanese troops arrived in Manila. All citizens of the Allied countries were interned at the University of Santo Tomas. Lois Croft, together with heads of various schools organized classes within the internment camp. 
1943-1944 During WWII, simple graduation ceremonies were held for the graduates in the internment camp. Thirty-four students were able to complete their High School requirements.



School at the internment camp was forced to close due to illness and malnutrition, resulting in the Senior Class of 1946 being unable to graduate.

On September 02, 1945 Japanese troops surrendered to the American and Filipino forces, ending World War II.



On July 04, 1946 the Philippines was granted Independence from the US.

In September, exactly a year after the Japanese surrendered in Manila, the American School re-opened with Lois Croft back as Principal.

1947 The American School Auxiliary (PTA) is formed.
The American Indian* seal became the official insignia of the school.
*The American Indian profile with the mountains in the background was designed a few years earlier by Frank Bennett ’47 during a contest held by the school. 
The American School becomes the first private school outside of the US to be listed in the Sergeant’s Handbook of Private Schools.
In 1952 the Cum Laude Society was instituted, and Sports was added to the extra-curricular program.
1953 Filipino teachers are employed for the first time as many Americans return to the US after Philippine Independence.
1956 The American School becomes the first (and only) International School to win the Philippine National Secondary Basketball Tournament.
1957 For the first time, the American School had more than one overseas hire expatriate at one time: Headmaster Malach and Assistant Headmaster Sandoe.
The American School was awarded a grant from the US State Department and the Filipino Scholarship Program was launched.
In 1960, the Board of Trustees purchased a five hectare property in Makati, the future Bel-Air campus.
The Elementary School moved to the Bel-Air Campus. 

Administration opted to re-name the Head of School from Headmaster to Superintendent.
1963 The Junior and Senior High School moved to the Bel-Air Campus.
1965 The American School became a member of the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS).
1970 The American School changed its name to International School Manila at the recommendation of the US Embassy to reflect the growing student diversity on campus.
All student government organizations were disbanded due to Martial Law imposed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
The Language Development Program (ESL) was introduced into the curriculum.
1973 Junior High School was renamed “Middle School”.
1975 The Development Fund was initiated.
1976 The International Baccalaureate Program was introduced to the High School curriculum.
1981 The American International School Alumni Association of Manila (AISAAM) was formed.
1982 The International School Manila joined the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS).
1983 Advanced Placement (A.P.) Program launched. 
1986 EDSA People Power I: Due to tensions and political unrest in the days leading up to the snap elections, school was frequently cancelled and classes were held in private homes to make up.
1987 PE Uniform launched.
1992 The Spirit Shop opens.
1993 ICARE was launched.
1994 Marked the last year of the Indian symbol and the Bearcat was announced as the official mascot beginning SY1995-1996.


The Jeepney Gang Alumni Association was formed.
The Binturong or Asian Bearcat becomes the official mascot of ISM.
1998 The Special Development Fund was initiated to supplement the lease and construction of a new campus located in the new Global City development in Fort Bonifacio.
1999 The current globe logo was introduced as the official emblem, replacing the Indian insignia.
2000 The cornerstone for the new campus at Fort Bonifacio was laid.
David Toze became the 23rd Head of School. 
The Newsflash, ISM’s Official community publication, moved from newsprint to a magazine format.
The International School Manila moved to a purpose built, state-of-the-art campus on a seven hectare site. 
The school uniform was launched.
2003 Class of 2003 was the first Class to graduate from the Fort Bonifacio campus.
International School in Manila Foundation was established, the US 501(c)(3) organization that supports curricular programs through community donations.
2007 The Newsflash magazine became a student-led HS publication.
ISM received dual accreditation by the Western Association of Schools (WASC) and the Council of International School (CIS).
Preschool’s new facility opens. 
ISM was the first school to host almost 3,000 delegates for the EARCOS Teacher’s Conference.
IS Manila celebrated 90 years of service to the community.
ISM Superintendent David Toze was awarded Superintendent of the Year by the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) for his leadership and community involvement.
The Intern Program is launched.


The year began with the first live internet streaming of IASAS sports on February 4, 2012. 

ISM inaugurated the newly constructed state-of-the-art tennis facility featuring eight new tennis courts with artificial turf on October 4, 2012.
2013 Solar panels on the roof of the arc building were installed. The 86.4 KWp panel, was projected to produce as much as 6% of the school's average daily consumption.


Newly renovated Amelita Martinez Ramos (AMR) Hall was inaugurated on February 18, 2014. 
During SY14-15, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was implemented for Grades 7 & 8.
Vicky SyCip Herrera Philippine Scholarship Foundation was officially incorporated on May 16, 2014.


Report Cards for MS & HS moved from printed copies to electronic copies.
The American School classes of 1949-1966 celebrated their Manila homecoming from February 8-14, 2015, the biggest contingent of the American School visiting Manila thus far.
ISM celebrated its 95th Anniversary on March 4, 2015.
The ES Self-Contained Classroom was opened for SY16-17.
The newly renovated Kantina serves as a Student Lounge and not just a cafeteria, while The Bearcat Cafe offers parents and students alike an additional social space. 
Bill Brown starts SY16-17 in his new post as Assistant Superintendent.



The Self-Contained Classroom became known as the Specialized Learning Support Program. Starting SY17-18, this program expanded to accept MS and HS students.
The Newsflash, ISM’s Official community publication, was renamed to Paw Prints.