A Brief History
Just one year after the inauguration of Brasilia, the need for an English-language school was apparent as embassies, missionaries and businesses began to transfer offices to the new capital of Brazil. So, in March 1961, the U.S. embassy led the request of the small local community and asked the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anthony's Parochial School to undertake the task of educating their children.
Our first teacher, Sister Rita Michael, began work on the required curriculum and created a system based on the American model in April 1961. One problem: no school supplies were available in Brasilia. So, missionary and embassy personnel appealed to friends and family back in the U.S. and they supplied not only text books but reference books for the small library. For EAB's first school year beginning August 1961, the school had 3 students. The following year 1962-1963, there were already 17 students enrolled.
In June 1964, just three years after opening, Sister Rita along with Sisters Jean Ann Carroll, Sister Conrad and Sister Joan Berard realized that the school was growing well beyond its original size. They asked the American Embassy to take over, but since the U.S. government does not build schools, the small American community, with support from the embassy, invited EAB's first headmaster, Jim Serfling to EAB. His salary as headmaster was $300 per month and he and his wife, Phyllis, who was also the first and second grade teacher, paid their own airfare to Brazil as the school didn't have the funds.
On September 15, 1964, EAB was formally registered by the U.S. Embassy with the Brazilian government. The school held classes for its 41 students in two embassy apartments in SQS 113. On November 4, 1964 EAB was registered by a notary public and later that month, the embassy asked the governor of Brasilia, José Sette Câmara Filho for land on which to build. For a nominal fee, the city granted the present site and construction soon began. The building was ready in 1967.
In those early days, slopes of red dirt and a one-lane road led down from L2 to the single building. Today, it is the upper school but then, there were just a few classrooms, a small library and a couple of offices behind which was the Headmaster's residence. There was no canteen. Everyone brought packed lunches and the janitor's wife (the janitor lived on site also) made cafézinho. In 1967, EAB had 70 students grades K through 3 with a few 4th-6th graders in one class together.
During a time of dictatorship in Brazil, the original mission of the school was to provide students with a U.S. educational program based on the principles of American democracy. EAB was committed to providing an instructional program based upon, and in accordance with, standards and practices offered by the best American schools located either in the US or abroad.
The immediate goal of the school was to provide six years of education for children in Brasilia. There were few embassies in Brasilia at this time, so most of the students were American, Brazilian or British.
There was great concern that students receive the same basic scholastic preparation as in the U.S. This preparation included rigorous training in basic skills such as reading and writing in English along with courses in citizenship and culture. Other goals were to maximize the bi-national and international spirit of the school and to give students and teachers the opportunity to become bilingual. Soon though, as the diplomatic community increased, it became clear that EAB would become an international school.
Each year, new classrooms were built and each year, EAB grew.
Academic Strides and Accreditations
- October 1965, EAB received a temporary accreditation by the Council of Education as an experimental primary-education school.
- During the 1965/66 school year documents show that Brazilian Studies began.
- 1968 saw the first three high school students who used correspondence courses
- The Portuguese Department was founded in 1971.
- In 1972, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave EAB full accreditation.
- First graduation ceremony was held outside for four students
- And in 1974 EAB was a fully accredited by the Council of Education of the Federal District as pre-kindergarten through high school.
Today, EAB is a leading educational institution in Brazil and looks forward to investing in new facilities, scholarship opportunities and leadership development to continue its mission to offer a differentiated, innovative learning experience, where EAB cultivates responsible and contributing citizens, leaders, and environmental stewards with a strong foundation of academic excellence.
The American School of Brasilia is fully accredited by AdvancEd and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), as well as the Ministry of Education of the Federal District. The school is also an authorized IB World School (IBO) and a member of the following organizations: The Association of American Schools of South America (AASSA), the Association of American Schools of Brazil (AASB), and the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE).