Bringing ISB History to Life
As International School Bangkok (ISB) nears its 70th year of providing a leading, high quality international education, it is important that we look back on our rich history to remember the people and the developments that got us here. The journey began in a little wooden building known as the International Children’s Center, on the grounds of the US Embassy in Bangkok.
To present this history in detail, ISB worked with Kingsmen C.M.T.I. Co., Ltd. in creating a visual History Wall. Installed on the side of our Chevron Theater, this detailed and descriptive wall features an in-depth timeline that follows ISB’s unique journey since 1951.
By highlighting the key events and milestones in our past, ISB’s History Wall reminds us of the school’s pedigree and resilience and inspires us to bring about even more impressive achievements in the years to come.
ISB’s Coming of Age
On May 14, 1951, a modest schoolhouse opened its doors at the US Embassy Bangkok on Wireless Road. The International Children’s Center, as it was known at the time, was staffed by volunteer parents who earned a small stipend for their efforts. A total of 50 students, from grades 1 to 4, attended classes during that first year.
By March of 1957, the International Children's Center had grown considerably in size, expanding far beyond its origins to include regular classes for middle school and high school students as well. Students had begun to graduate, and the name was officially changed to International School Bangkok – the first school of its kind in Thailand. It was already clear that a bigger campus, with contemporary facilities and equipment, would be needed.
When ISB relocated to Sukhumvit Soi 15 in 1960, the international school was already welcoming an incredible 550 students representing 25 nationalities. The new facility allowed the school to incorporate various extra co-curricular activities alongside its academic program. The athletics program was a particular hit, leading to an annual competition with Singapore American School, which would soon become known as the Bangkok-Singapore Games.
By the mid-1960s, the increasing US military presence in Southeast Asia led to another radical increase in the student population. As total student enrollment reached more than 3600 by 1967, the school opened an additional campus in Bangsue. Even with the added space, some classes needed to be taught in double sessions in order to accommodate all the students.
As US military forces ended their campaign in Vietnam, ISB’s student body soon returned to a somewhat stable total of 1300 students. The school took the opportunity to expand its programs, offering a more comprehensive set of activities.
In 1982, the creation of the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS) helped enhance student life at ISB – particularly in the realms of co-curricular activities and athletics. In the academic arena, the school was the first in Thailand to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, and this moved us further in the direction of outstanding international education.
These expanded programs and a more ambitious school mission meant that ISB would once again need a new, larger campus. The Board at ISB had a vision for a school campus unrivaled in the region. Before long, the directors came across a property located in Pakkret, Nonthaburi Province, a short distance from Don Mueang International Airport.
The school moved into its new campus in January 1992, having everything it would need to provide a complete and fully modern school experience.
Over the years, we continued to invest in expanding and improving the campus. New facilities included the Cultural Center, Sports Complex, and off-site Environmental Wilderness Campus (EWC) – along with bold enhancements to the academic buildings.
The ISB History Wall recounts our school’s milestones and the external events that brought our community together and made us stronger as a family.
These key moments in the school’s history illustrate the strength and importance of our community and ISB spirit. A snippet of historical events that helped shape our identity as the first international school in Thailand and one of the leading international schools in the world.