The American School Foundation: Cultivating Life-long Zeal to Learn and a Tradition of Success

The American School Foundation, A.C., offers students from diverse backgrounds the best of American independent education.  

Founded by a group of American industrialists living in Mexico in 1888, The American School Foundation (ASF) is the oldest accredited American school abroad in a continuous operation to offer its students the best American education. Envisioned to educate global citizens for a changing world, this school is a non-profit organization, governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees, elected by associates of the American School Foundation.

Detailing the Journey of Triumph  

The school first began operating in 1888, as a kindergarten in the home of John R. Davis.  Back then, kindergarten was a new concept and Mr. Davis invited his mother-in-law, Mrs. Bessie Files to teach in this newly-created private school. The first nine students to enroll in Mrs. Files’ kindergarten class in August, 1888, were children from American, Mexican and British families who wanted the best in modern education taught in English for their children.

Moving ahead with the school’s timeline, by 1894, the student body had grown, as had the demand for an American-style education. Meeting the requirements, additional faculty was hired from the United States and the necessary funds were raised to expand the curriculum and the school’s classrooms. Later, on September 21, 1894, John R. Davis was elected as the school’s first President of the Board and W. M. Taggart was named its first Principal. By 1902, the school had added a high school under its wing. However, it wasn’t until the year 1905 that “The American School Association” was formed.

An Ambitious and Seasoned Leader  

Mr. Mark Iver Sylte, current Executive Director of The American School Foundation joined the school in 2018. His educational qualifications include graduating from Saint Olaf College and a Master’s Degree in Russian and Chinese History from Cornell University, including time as a Fulbright-Hayes dissertation fellow through the Far Eastern Academy of Science in Vladivostok. Having worked in the field of education for over twenty years, he has been a classroom teacher and department chair at the Lawrenceville School, and served as Head of Upper School at Saint Andrew’s School, in Boca Ratón, Florida. He also served as Head of School for Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (Gubei), and as Head of School for Saigon South International School in Ho Chi Minh City, before arriving in Mexico City.

A High-Quality and Value-Based Curriculum

ASF is the preeminent English-speaking college preparatory school that prepares its diverse student body by design to be the trendsetters of tomorrow. By nationality, the student body of almost 2,600 is 53% Mexican, 31% from the United States and 16% from nearly 40 other countries. ASF has more than 580 staff members, including leadership, faculty (61% Mexican, 32% from the United States and 7% from other countries), support staff and operations staff.

The school’s 17-acre campus features state-of-the-art facilities including well-furnished classrooms, two cafeterias, one semi-Olympic covered pool, four athletic fields, two multipurpose rooms, one fine arts center, one wellness center, four learning centers, several computer and science labs. It serves students from kindergarten through grade 12 in four schools: The Early Childhood Center (grades K1-K3), the Lower School (grades 1-5), the Middle School (grades 6-8), and the Upper School (grades 9-12). The American School Foundation, A.C. has two primary languages of instruction, English and Spanish. The degree to which each language is reflected in the school’s program varies from level to level. It is the school’s goal to make all students completely bilingual.

Along with academics, ASF also gives equal importance to sports. The school has introduced various athletic programs to motivate its students and nurture their talents for a bigger stage. In athletics, ASF offers a comprehensive K-12 program in seven team sports: tennis, swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, running and soccer. The Extended Learning program at ASF includes more than 20 activities: karate, taekwondo, yo-yo, ballet, violin, painting, ceramics, jazz (dance), musical theater, 3D printing, magic, mindfulness, chess, coding, gymnastics, Mandarin, French, soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis, swimming, running and supervised lunch. ASF also has more than 40 student-led clubs. 

The Globally Renowned Academia 

ASF has been accredited by AdvancED, one of the largest communities of education professionals in the world. Through special agreements, ASF studies in the ECC and the Lower School are revalidated by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education (SEP) and in the Middle and Upper Schools studies are also revalidated by the SEP and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). ASF is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and as such, is authorized by the International Baccalaureate Programme headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, to provide the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes.

Additionally, ASF is also a member of the Association of American Schools of Mexico (ASOMEX), the Tri-Association (Association of American Schools of Central America, Colombia, Caribbean and Mexico, the National Association of Independent Schools, (headquartered in Washington D.C.), and the Southern Association of Independent Schools.

Active in a variety of professional organizations; ASF’s faculty is involved in many activities sponsored by these entities.

Exceptional Programs Promoting Values and Celebrating Diversity

Each year, the school implements a day in the ECC during which parents from diverse countries gather to share stories, videos and songs in their mother tongue. They also come and talk about special festivities like Hanukkah, Day of the Dead, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, to mention a few.

The Lower School maintains a house system that allows students to be part of smaller groups where they maintain interaction with one another. Here, students work their way through the LS together and engage in integration activities. The buddies program is another inititive put forward by the school, where younger LS students connect with older LS students. This program conducts regular meetings for students to engage in different activities. From the LS to the US, there are camps and retreats, which are a great way for students to do group team building, integration activities and learn values.

Other fundraising and community-building programs throughout the year include:

  • Kick-Off: At the start of every school year, a Kick-Off is held to welcome new families to the school’s community, where students can sample its after school activities and parents can enjoy watching an alumni football game.
  • Golf Tournament: Every year, the school holds a friendly golf tournament for the community. All profits go to the Endowment Fund for Financial Aid.
  • Art Fair: Every year, an Art Fair is held on campus, showcasing work by students, inviting galleries and vendors to sell art in the school’s gardens.
  • Holiday Bazaar: Vendors are invited to sell clothes, accessories, toys, gadgets and other items at a Holiday Bazaar in December. A percentage of all sales go to the Endowment Fund for Financial Aid.
  • College Fair: Once a year, The American School Foundation holds one of the most extensive undergraduate fairs in Mexico, which is open for the public for free. Over 130 colleges and universities from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe and Australia participate.
  • Run for Education: ASF’s annual Run for Education is a 3, 5 or 10 km race for the whole family. There are also short races for the young children. All profits go to the Endowment Fund for Financial Aid.

Helping Students Financially  

ASF is committed to having a diverse community of families and students with different talents and interests in the areas of academics, arts, athletics, community service and entrepreneurship, among others, regardless of their ability to pay. As part of this commitment, the school offers a financial aid program from kindergarten through grade 12, for families who would enrich the community but cannot afford the overall cost of an ASF education. Financial aid is based upon a family’s demonstrated financial need.

ASF invests, along with the parent, in the student’s education. Each year, it grants awards of between 25% and 75% of the total cost of attending ASF. Currently, over 400 students receive financial aid which, on average, is of 50% tuition. By the 2027-28 school year, the goal of the school is to have 20% of students on financial aid.

The Prolific Alumni

Pedro is an award-wining artist recognized by André Breton as part of the Surrealist movement together with Frida Kahlo. He is a Mexican surrealist that has exhibited in North and South America, Europe and Asia with public collections in museums around the world. With a published biography and being an inspiration to many books of art and architecture, he has impressed the school with his detailed work evoking Tantric scriptures, Aztec codices, Catholicism, Hinduism, and symbols of the occult.

-Pedro Friedeberg, class of 1947 

In 2013, Gary gained fame for directing the Mexican film, Nosotros los Nobles, breaking every Mexican box office record.

-Gary Alazraki, class of 1996 

Beside his successful professional life, leading an international executive search firm, Horacio has devoted his life to help others. He supports a foundation that provides legal counsel for wrongly convicted prisoners in the State of Mexico and other foundations and ministries that help the elderly and widowed in Mexico and the U.S. He also gives free orientation to students entering college and is a major donor in orphanages in Mexico, the Philippines, India and Indonesia. He has also been an integral part of ASF’s fundraising efforts.

-Horacio McCoy, class of 1957

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