History

Washington International School was founded in 1966 by Dorothy Goodman to meet the educational needs of Washington's international community and American families seeking a rigorous international education.

In the post-World War II years international schools were established throughout the world to serve the growing number of families, mostly from developed countries, posted abroad by governments and commercial firms. These schools usually were founded by a community of families of a particular nationality and followed the educational system and curriculum of that country. They were international primarily in the sense that they accepted children of other nationalities.

When Goodman founded WIS with three pre-school students in the basement of a Washington, DC house, she had a clear vision for the School. Informed by scientific research on the capacity of the human brain to acquire multiple languages, especially in the early years, and marketing research that focused on the educational needs of international families in Washington, she imagined an independent school in which children could become functionally multilingual and at the same time well informed about world history, geography, literature, and cultures.

From the beginning WIS has offered a range of subjects for study within a common curriculum. The School aims for high academic standards and enables students to master at least two major modern languages. The program equips students to enter university in their own country or any country of their choice.

The School's founding followed shortly after the incorporation of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), which itself grew from international school efforts to establish a common curriculum and university entry credential for geographically mobile students. WIS was among the first 60 schools to adopt the IB Diploma curriculum.

In 1969, with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation, WIS purchased the Wendell Phillips School building on Olive Street in Georgetown from the District of Columbia. The Olive Street campus served the school for 29 years, first as a space for the whole of the school, and, in subsequent years, as its Lower School site. In 1998, the lower grades moved into a newly-built facility at Reservoir Road and 36th Street NW. For the first time, this location enabled Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5 to be in the same Primary School Campus. The Tregaron Campus, acquired with assistance of the Ford Foundation in 1980, is the site of the Middle School (Grades 6 through 8) and the Upper School (Grades 9 through 12).

TIMELINE, 1966-PRESENT

THE FIRST DECADE

1966

Founding of Washington International School by Dorothy B. Goodman, director, and Cathya Stephenson, associate director

1969

Move to school building on Olive Street after three church basement locations

1972

Move to the Mansion at Tregaron for students Grade 4 and up until WIS leased progressively all the buildings on the Tregaron property

1975

International Baccalaureate Diploma authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organisation

THE SECOND DECADE

1977

First graduating class and first International Baccalaureate examinations

1979

Creation of WIS Parent Association (WISPA)

1980

Purchase of a major portion of the Tregaron property

1981

Grades 4 and 5 move for four years to Clara Barton School in Maryland

1983

Creation of WIS Staff Association (WISSA)

1983

Cathya Stephenson, associate director, appointed interim head of school

1985

Appointment of Gunther Brandt as head of school

THE THIRD DECADE

1988

First accreditation by European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)

1988

Opening of new academic/auditorium building (now Middle School)

1989

Appointment of Dexter Lewis as head of school

1991

Appointment of Anne-Marie Pierce as head of school

1993

Academic restructuring with emphasis on the Middle School (Grades 6 through 8)

THE FOURTH DECADE

1998

Second accreditation by ECIS and MSA

1998

Move to new Primary School Campus, uniting all primary grades, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5

1999

Primary Years Program and Middle Years Program authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization

2000

Opening of Arts and Athletics Center, Tregaron Campus

2001

Appointment of Richard P. Hall as head of school

2002

Launch of five-year Strategic Plan

2003

Founding and first conference of the Center for International Education at WIS

2005-2006

Celebration of the school's 40th Anniversary

THE FIFTH DECADE

2007

Appointment of Clayton Lewis as head of school

2008

Opening of Academic, Arts and Athletics Complex, Tregaron Campus

2008

Dedication of athletic field and Kemper Valentine basketball court

2008

Third accreditation by ECIS and MSA

2009

Dedication of Ulysses G. Auger II Field

2010

WIS becomes part of the Hanban-Asia Society Confucius Classroom Network

2011

Expansion of Primary School building completed

2013

Renovation of Mansion West Wing