by Susan A. Williams
American School Quito
The American School in Quito, Ecuador, is celebrating 75 years since opening its doors in October of 1940. The School was established by a group of forward thinking Ecuadorian families under the leadership of Galo Plaza Lasso, a renowned politician, and Boaz Long, the U.S. Ambassador in Quito at that time. Galo Plaza, who later became the Minister of Defense and President of Ecuador and the Organization of American States (OAS), brought back from the U.S., where he studied, the dream of a school, full of light with students playing and learning in an environment of freedom. His dream contrasted drastically from the traditional educational institutions of Ecuador at that time, which were characterized by strong authoritarian discipline, conservative principles and highly structured delivery of the curriculum. His own children attended the German school and he feared the inculcation of Nazi dogma.
Galo Plaza, along with these liberal families and the support of Boaz Long, was able to hire Hazel and Robert Tucker, from Radcliff and Harvard Universities, as Director and Principal to begin this wonderful 75 year journey in which Ecuadorian and American students have been provided with an education based on the democratic values he loved so dearly.
The American School began with 162 students and has now grown to 2300 ranging from Nursery to Grade 12. What was basically an American curriculum has now expanded to provide fully bilingual offerings in English and Spanish with the I.B. Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. We are currently implementing the PYP as well and should have our authorization at the end of this school year.
Our students leave school to go on to competitive universities in Ecuador, the U.S., Canada and Europe. Upon completion of their university studies, they enter adulthood as leaders here in Ecuador in the areas of finance, education, government, private industry, and the arts, among others. The list is unending of our graduates, who have made notable contributions to the development and progress of their country as well as internationally.
Over the years, the School has had the good fortune of growing under the leadership of Directors such as Eugene Metz, Mary Virginia Sanchez, Pilar Cabeza de Vaca, George Takacs, who have provided a strong vision while still maintaining an extraordinary sense of community not often found in school settings. Our graduates love the school, which is evidenced in the fact that 90% of the students entering our Nursery are children or grandchildren of alumni.
We proudly enter our 75th anniversary with a love for the past and dreams of a wonderful future.