History of ASD
The American School of Doha (ASD) was originally founded and operated until 1997 as the American International School (AIS). The school was established in 1988 by Ambassador Joseph Ghougassian to serve the needs of the American community in Qatar. A villa housed the school consisting of only lower elementary classes and a small teaching staff recruited from the local community. By school year 1989/90, AIS had moved to the Old Rayyan campus, which was a purpose built Arabic school owned by a member of the Qatari ruling family. Although at the school's inception it was envisioned that one grade level per year would be added, the school expanded rapidly within the first two years creating grade levels ranging from EC-3 (Early Childhood — 3 years of age) up through Grade 8. Expansion and increased enrollment necessitated the procurement of additional qualified teachers and, in August of 1990, the first overseas hired administrator joined the staff. Thereafter, AIS continued to add one grade level per year, expand programs and recruit and sponsor more American teachers. Qatari efforts to develop and market natural gas resources through the expansion of the North Field Gas Project in Ras Laffan brought an influx of western newcomers to the community, bolstering both student enrollment and the pool of certified American teachers available. The activities of Mobil Oil and Occidental Petroleum created opportunities for numerous other American businesses in petrochemical affiliated fields, so much so that within a fourteen month period in 1994, the community welcomed such businesses as Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., Pennzoil, Cooper Tools, ABB Vetco, American Airlines, more Halliburton families, and several other companies, not the least of which was a newly opened McDonalds and Burger King. September of 1995 witnessed the institution of Grade 12 and the completion of a full high school program at AIS. The additional teachers resulted in the ability to offer a much greater variety and diversity within the academic program. In accordance with the recommendations of the accreditation visiting team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the school library was expanded in size during the fall of 1994. A 486 IBM compatible computer was purchased to operate as a file server and two additional IBM/Wang units, donated to the school from the US Embassy allowed students to access data entries on library holdings in addition to the traditional shelf listings. In an effort to further expand our campus, an adjacent villa was leased to create the AIS Language Center for classes of Classical Arabic/Islamic studies, AAL (Arabic as Another Language), French and ESL. In 1996, Spanish was also added, as was a second villa. For the SY95/96, AIS budgeted for an increased enrollment of 395 students and, to meet community needs, planned resources to double almost all our grade level classes. The AIS administration and staff worked exceedingly hard to insure that the continued growth and improvement experienced were sustained. Through careful management, the administration of entrance testing and strict adherence to western-based fiscal and academic policies, the school's reputation continued to improve and American enrollment was up to 40% in SY 94/95. Host country national enrollment was 18%. In September 1996 it began to look like the idea of a new American International School could become a reality. Corporate support and enthusiasm for the new school project from the existing partners increased dramatically. With the adoption and approval of a new conceptual design, financing secured through Banque Paribas (with the corporate guarantees of Mobil and Occidental and later on Arco), a contractor was awarded the job and the contract was signed in November 1996. A groundbreaking ceremony, which involved the then newly appointed Qatari Minister of Education, Dr. Mohammed Al Kafoud and the US Ambassador to Qatar, Patrick N. Theros, took place on December 14, 1996. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries assigned to the various missions, government officials from a number of ministries, educators, parents and students. The school administration and planning team followed an aggressive construction schedule, with completion slated to take place late November 1997, with occupancy taking place the following month. The 1996/97 school year began with enrollment up 6% over the closing total the previous June. The construction of the new school project proved to be a shot in the arm for the community and it elicited greater interest in the school from individuals outside the mainstream American Community. The 1997/98 school year began with an enrollment of 495 students. In August of 1997, the Board of Directors took the decision to change the name of the school from the American International School to the American School of Doha (ASD).
There was a very positive, pro-active movement towards American education in Qatar. His Highness the Emir, HH the Heir Apparent and HH the Prime Minister all demonstrated a pronounced and increased interest in the school and its programs. On January 10, 1998, classes resumed from the Winter Recess, as scheduled, in the new school. The construction project was completed on time. The school was beautiful. A library, two music rooms, biology, chemistry and physics laboratories, two art labs, full size gymnasium (indoor), outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, two tennis courts, soccer field and a 25m outdoor swimming pool. The 1998/1999 school year began on August 31st, with an enrollment of 485 students. Most classes were at capacity and a waiting list was established.
In the spring of 2004, under the new leadership of Ed Ladd, the school, enrollment topped 600 students for the first time and presented the school with the question of whether to top enrollment at this number or to seek to expand facilities to allow for continued growth. The possibility of expansion became a reality in June 2004, with the gifted of the adjoining land by his highness the Emir. The land, which had long been sought for additional sports facilities and as a home for the local Little League, became a catalyst to map a new future for ASD. The once deserted dirt lot, long used by faculty and parents for parking, now became the future of ASD.
Under the leadership of David Pals, chair of the ASD Board of Directors, a new strategic plan was formulated, which included the expansion of the school to include a new middle and high school, with the conversion of the then present campus into an elementary school. Various school groups, parents, teachers, and students, met to envision what the new facility should be like and from these meetings there emerged twenty-one design principles for learning. Thirty-five architectural firms were invited to submit their vitae and a letter of interest for the project. Ten of these firms were selected as semi-finalists, and after careful study, four were invited to present to the school’s expansion committee. Three of these firms accepted and presented their ideas in November and Hillier Architects from Princeton, New Jersey, were chosen after sealed bids and technical analysis were completed.
The spring of 2005 was an exciting time as plans were drawn and reviewed as the bidding process for contractors and project management were accepted and reviewed. Hill International was chosen for the project management and a local contractor, Al Sraiya, were chosen for the construction. Ground was broken in June of 2005.
In the fall of 2007, the new middle and high school were opened. The new facility contained a completely wireless facility with two computer labs and ceiling mounted LCD projectors in every classroom. There was a double gym, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a theater that could seat 635 students. The middle school was a separate building with an individual floor for each grade level, while the high school was arranged according to individual disciplines. Both schools were served by a large, modern library as well as a spacious dining hall. The school also had a full sized soccer pitch and a 400-meter track.
In the same fall, the renovation and expansion of the
elementary school began, which included the removal of forty-two portacabins,
an expanded library, a new and larger multi-purpose room, an expanded
cafeteria, and the addition of two elementary science labs and a new central
office complex. This building was
completed in June 2009.
As a result of the expansion, the school enrollment is now
close to 2000 students and close to capacity.
The reputation of the school has continued to grow with the acceptance
of students in major colleges and universities, including Harvard, West Point,
and Columbia. The student body has also
grown in diversity with 79 countries
represented in the student body. The
future for the American School of Doha is bright as it builds on a tradition of
excellence and community. We look
forward to continuing to provide an outstanding education for the expatriate
community and others who seek the best in education.