The Office of Overseas Schools
U.S. Department of State
Room H328, SA-1
Washington, D.C. 20522-0103
For nearly sixty years, the Office of Overseas Schools (OS) has been charged with responsibility for ensuring the best possible educational opportunities for dependents of U.S. Government personnel stationed abroad. It is also responsible for strengthening mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Encouraging excellence in elementary and secondary school programs and in educational staff development activities throughout the world helps American overseas schools demonstrate the philosophy and method of American education to foreign educators and students.
OS was established in 1964 under the Department of State Bureau of Administration in order to consolidate the overseas schools program that had been provided under three separate appropriations and administered by three separate agencies until that time. The U.S. Government assistance to American-sponsored overseas schools began in 1944 with a Congressional appropriation for aid to a small group of schools in Central and South America to support educational programs patterned on those of the United States. Assistance to American-sponsored community schools became worldwide in scope in 1957, with the so-called “PL. 480 funds,” which enabled a number of American community schools to enlarge and expand their facilities, to supplement salaries of U.S. citizen teachers and to provide scholarship aid for local students enrolled in the schools. The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 and subsequent amendments provided annual support for educational programs that served to enhance mutual understanding.
The schools assisted by OS —195 in the 2022-2023 school year— are independent non-profit schools established on a cooperative basis by U.S. Citizens residing in foreign communities. The primary language of instruction is English, and that the schools’ curricula are based primarily on U.S. programs and fully accredited by U.S. standards.
The existence of OS and its role in the establishment and support of the schools and educational programs, particular, in the area of staff development, make clear that the Department of State is vitally concerned with the quality of educational opportunity the schools offer. The recruitment and retention of highly qualified staff for its overseas posts is the Department’s principal motivation in supporting the schools.
OS’s budget is approximately 18 million — this assistance represents support for recruitment of U.S.-trained specialize staff, such as administrators, special needs teachers and counselors, staff development, instructional materials, and student services.
OS is intimately involved in the establishment and support of the regional associations of overseas schools and in the identification and support of highly qualified consultants for in-service training in staff recruitment, especially in leadership positions. It also supports the development of services for children with special needs, evaluation and testing programs, school accreditation, college entrance guidance programs, school plant planning, as well as the introduction and support of technological developments — in short, it serves as a stateside resource for the schools and as a catalyst the development of school improvement activities.
OS encourages support for overseas schools on the part of the U.S. community, and serves as the executive secretariat of the Overseas Schools Advisory Council.
The Office of Overseas Schools is staffed with a Director and Regional Education Officers (REO), each assigned oversight of a geographic region, who are well-informed about schools attended by U. S. citizen school-age dependent children. For information about overseas schools, you are encouraged to contact any of the following Regional Education Officers:
Dr. Tim S. Stuart
East Asia Pacific
Mr. Andrew A. Hoover
Eastern Europe, Central Asia
Ms. Mary E. Russman
Near East, South Asia, Greece, Turkiye, Cyprus
Mr. Mike Emborsky
Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America
Dr. Robin D. Heslip
Dr. Christine L. Brown
Mr. Mark E. Ulfers
Ms. Elise N. Webb
Since 1967, leading American business firms have helped bring educational excellence to American children attending schools overseas through the Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC). The Department of State established OSAC to seek the advice of American leaders from the business, foundation, and educational communities in pursuing the goal of assuring quality education for American children attending Department-assisted schools overseas, which are known as American overseas schools. OSAC is one of the longest standing advisory committees in the Federal Government and is subject to review and renewal every two years under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
The Office of Overseas Schools (OS) has written a comprehensive strategic plan for 2022-2026. OS has given careful consideration to aligning OS’s strategic intent with Secretary of State’s Modernization Plan, the Bureau of Administration’s Strategy, the Department wide emphasis on building positive organizational/school cultures of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA). Please download our full plan here: [725 KB].
The U.S. Department of State provides assistance to overseas schools through direct and indirect support designed to promote an American-style program. Assisted schools must meet specific requirements in order obtain and maintain this status. These requirements include, but are not limited to, that the school:
- is nonprofit, non-religious, nonpolitical, and U.S. accredited;
- have American Embassy representation on their governing body, where possible;
- have significant number of U.S. citizen and U.S. trained staff and administration;
- have strong American-style curricula and materials;
- provide assurance of fiscal oversight;
- operate in compliance with local law and transparency with the community; and
- have in place policy, procedures and implementation in regards to child protection.
While there are many good international schools around the globe, assisted schools have a uniquely close relationship with the Department of State and their respective Regional Education Officers, which benefits American students where the U.S. government has a diplomatic presence. Generally, there is only one assisted school per diplomatic post. Each diplomatic post must demonstrate a need for an assisted school and work with the Regional Education Officer to make sure the selected school meets and maintains the requirements. The Regional Education Officer is the arbiter of these grants and relationships.
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