Originally published in State Magazine.
From left: Students Anthony Carrie and Ellie Chester attend their graduation from American International School of Algiers at Embassy Algiers, June 2. Photo by Jessica Lilley
By Jessica Lilley
This year marks a milestone for the American International School of Algiers (AISA) as the institution celebrates its first cadre of graduating middle schoolers. AISA’s success is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates how the American community in Algiers has thrived since the post became fully accompanied just four years ago.
The first American school in Algiers opened in 1963, just after Algeria won independence from France. The school closed in 1990 at the outbreak of Algeria’s civil war. The poor security situation also meant that Embassy Algiers was an unaccompanied post from 1990 until 2013.
As the country normalized after the end of the war in 2002, diplomatic missions—including the U.S. mission, international corporations, and NGOs—expanded their presence in Algiers. With more expatriates in the capital, there was an increase in demand for English-language schooling options. This need became more pressing after Embassy Algiers opened to some employee family members in 2013.
As the situation in Algeria slowly began to improve, Embassy Algiers and the Office of Overseas Schools began negotiations to open an American school in 2005. There were significant bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, but after 11 years of discussions, the two sides reached an agreement in March 2016.
AISA opened its doors on the site of a picturesque villa in August 2016. Reflecting on the many challenges the school had to overcome, AISA Director Judith Drotar noted that its success was due to the support of the U.S. and Algerian governments, a dedicated staff, and a long line of supporters. One of the many reasons why AISA prides itself on being “the little school that could.”
Education is one of the most important criteria for many families when bidding. AISA offers parents the opportunity to serve in Algiers knowing they can provide their children a genuine American education, one aligned with the common core curriculum used widely throughout the United States. The school offers grades kindergarten through eighth, and this year has an enrollment of 28 students from 13 nationalities.
Sara Chester, the mother of one of this year’s graduating eighth-graders, says their family is thrilled to have chosen AISA.
“AISA helped foster leadership skills and confidence in my daughter and provides students and families with an engaging, caring educational environment,” said Chester.
For more information about AISA, visit their website.
Jessica Lilly is vice consul at Embassy Algiers.