The American International School · Vienna (AIS): Nurturing Young Minds towards Excellence

Most schools strive to create an environment where the pupils thrive. Schools that aspire to develop an ambience where students are fascinated about learning, deeply engaged with the subject, and have a profound curiosity about exploring things. An institution that places each student at the center of attention and helps them thrive through their strengths and explore ways to improve their weaknesses. A place where every subject is given equal importance and a school where each student is taught based on the level of understanding. Improving the quality of life of the local community and thereby using its resources to help the countries in need. Developing awareness among its students about the real-world problems and igniting the values of volunteering and collaboration among themselves is one of the strongest pillars of a successful institution. The American International School · Vienna (AIS) is the first English language school in Austria founded in 1959 and has risen to become one of The Most Valuable Institutions in Austria. Its contribution to the country and the world has been astonishing.

Let’s look at the storybook of the traditional school which has always improved itself and has been still successfully following the roots since its inception in contemporary times: 

How it all Started

The American International School of Vienna is all about diversity. It’s about young minds coming together with the purpose of learning. At the time of its awakening, 234 students enrolled representing a diverse range of 17 nationalities. This tradition of diversity went on and today, has made AIS the beacon for schools where values and ideas are cherished within the campus. It made the institution attractive and famous among people with open minds, and people all across the world who move to the pristine city of Vienna choose AIS to enroll their young ones. Today, AIS serves nearly 800 students with over 60 nationalities from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 (IB Diploma or American Diploma). The school’s unique curriculum offers a combination of a nurturing, family atmosphere with a challenging educational environment backed by its history of achievements. School programs focus on academics, but also on the development of students’ creative and leadership abilities and emotional intelligence.

The esteemed school is situated in the Neustift-am-Walde area of Vienna, adjacent to the famous Vienna Woods. It provides an instructional setting amid the physical beauty of the surrounding hills, forest, and countryside. On its 11-acre (4.5 hectares) premises, there are seven interconnected buildings housing Elementary, Middle, and High school.

Offering Holistic Facilities 

The school has all-inclusive and remarkable infrastructure with over 70 classrooms, seven state-of-art science labs as well as an outdoor classroom. It also incorporates two libraries with brilliant collections of books to match the needs of students, updated regularly to stay au fait with the contemporary times. Additionally, to keep the pupils’ creative juices flowing the school also has amazing art studios, harmonic music rooms, a fun court, and a lively theatre.

It also has two gyms, a sports field, a cafeteria, health unit, and a separate sports hall to ensure that its students not only evolve and improve psychologically but physically as well. The sports hall houses three indoor tennis courts, two basketball courts, and ten badminton courts. There are various offices for counseling, the International Baccalaureate program, division offices, technology, curriculum, and faculty departments.

All these facilities benefit its students and faculties to create the best learning environment where every member of AIS can thrive. 

It’s Inspiration

Nurture, Include, Challenge and Respect are the core values of AIS that keep it strong in all situations.

Within the rich cultural context of Austria, AIS Vienna

  • Nurtures an inclusive learning community
    • In partnership with families, it supports healthy social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development
    • It differentiates instruction to accommodate diverse interests and needs
    • It cultivates active and creative students
  • Challenges students to strive for personal excellence and to explore their passions
    • It balances an academically engaging program with co-curricular opportunities to empower students for success now and beyond AIS
    • It motivates students to explore new and existing passions through guidance and opportunities
  • Fosters respect through compassion for others and the world
    • It encourages empathy, honesty, and kindness towards others
    • It embraces diverse values and perspectives to act with an open mind
    • It strives to have a positive impact on others and its environment

The Esteemed Staff

AIS holds its students at its center of attention. To provide its pupils and inculcate pivotal values in them, AIS has its teachers to be thankful for. The core excellence at AIS is the talented faculty and administration. Each of the three academic divisions is headed by a trained and experienced principal. The senior leadership team comprises the School Director, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, the Director of Events, the Director of Technology, the Director of Admissions, the Director of Development, the Director of Human Resources and the Business Manager. The faculty also comprises of trained and experienced counselors in each of the three divisions, resource staff, and librarians for the Elementary and Secondary schools.

The AIS faculty members consist of over 100 individuals. More than 80% of its teachers hold advanced degrees, with several having earned doctorates. Though the school has a substantial majority of U.S. teachers, it has teachers of other nationalities as well, including faculties from Europe, Canada, the Middle East, the Far East, and South America with 15 countries represented. Among these, 43 teachers have experience of over 20 years. AIS’s teachers are dedicated professionals with a commitment to on-going development in the educational sphere. They frequently attend regional and international conferences, IB training, and subject-specific workshops, thereby introducing their research and ideas that will solve problems and will enhance the learning environment of the education system.

An Impeccable Figurehead

Every school needs an ambitious leader. More than that it requires a personality who will uphold the school’s values in crucial circumstances. An individual who has passionately worked towards improving the educational sphere with utmost sincerity. Steve Razidlo, Director of AIS is a portrait of an educational reformer, painted by the colors of the above morals. Steve has been the Director of AIS for 5 years and continuously serving the institution and the educational sphere. He is zealous in his pursuit to make the educational system a better place for the pupils, teachers and all the human society.

Prior to taking over as the Director of AIS, Steve served as the Superintendent of Brainerd Public schools, where he also held positions such as assistant superintendent and high school principal. In his final year at Brainerd, his hard work paid off. All six elementary schools in his district earned coveted National Blue Ribbon School awards from the United States Department of Education.

During his tenure at AIS Vienna, Steve has stabilized the school’s leadership and championed improvements in the physical footprints of the school (3 projects 3 years in a row over 3 million Euro) including the transformation of classrooms, fencing, and the campus. Steve has also worked closely with the Curriculum Department. Together they have led a 5-year quest to implement the program Understanding by Design; a school-wide (Pre-K through Grade 12) framework for curriculum planning and assessment design. 

Fostering Environment and Holding Various Activities

AIS is fortunate to have teachers who are continuously striving to create a better learning environment. They are deeply interested and are fascinated by their students’ ideas. These teachers embrace the commitment of AIS Vienna by honoring each pupil’s learning style and their needs. In Elementary school, this translates to children working within the academic framework at their own pace and level. Students in Middle and High School have individual programs of study from an array of course selection options. AIS aims to recognize a student’s uniqueness throughout their academic development.

Along with creating a fostering learning environment, AIS Vienna offers an inclusive athletics program with 11 competitive sports of varying levels. These events span across three athletics seasons plus comprehensive clubs. There are also after-school activities programs including arts, music, language, athletics, service learning, and technological opportunities. When the school day ends at 3:15 PM, a new extracurricular world begins.

Since 1959, AIS has offered opportunities for students to take part in activities and travel beyond the borders of the host city and country. After 60 years of success, it is one of the many ways the institute continues to supplement its curriculum with athletic and educational activities, allowing for learning to take place well beyond the classroom. 

 Enhancing the Region

AIS actively contributes and reinforces the region’s community. It encourages its students to volunteer in the region’s improvement activities. It gives students numerous service-learning opportunities as a part of the curriculum. School students get a chance to interact with local school students with intellectual disabilities. AIS students organize food drives for refugees, raise money to help amputees afford prosthetics, and volunteer in Caritas soup kitchens, all sponsored by AIS Vienna to help students develop empathy for the less fortunate. It continuously tries to provide opportunities for students to give back to the local and regional community.

Through its Bridges of Peace and Hope club, AIS has partnered with a school in Zambia to provide experiences for students to connect on a global scale. 

Education at its Best

Everything AIS has ever done in the educational sphere is with a purpose to serve and inculcate values in its students. Students’ journey and growth toward excellence give the school a purpose. Its core values- nurture, include, challenge, and respect, guide AIS in ensuring that its students flourish intellectually and inter-culturally, while internalizing the commitment and leadership necessary in the globally-minded world. It strives to ignite the real power of its pupils and bring their inner strengths to life so that they can find the best ways to shine. 

Words of Trust 

“The education I received at AIS not only prepared me and helped me to achieve a Harvard degree, but it also prepared me for a career in global business.” -Thomas Stemberg, Founder Staples Inc., Class of ‘67 

“AIS has given me an appreciation for the diversity of cultures and people that I was able to grow up with. Still being in contact with people from all over the world is something unique to have gone to an International School. AIS was very inclusive. You didn’t feel left out when you were new because everyone had experienced that at one point or another. It was like being accepted into a new family.” -Lydia Bergen Allen, Class of ‘79

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