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ASB Writes 35 Years of History

By Joseph Cubas & Sunita Bhargava
ASB Writes 35 Years of History

Early days: the entire American School of Bombay, established in the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai (photo: ASB).
In the fall of 1998, Francesco entered the American School of Bombay (ASB) as a seventh grader. Five years later, when he left ASB, little did he imagine that he would walk in again, this time in 2013, as a parent leading his son, Christiano, into the pre-K classroom of his alma mater.
That same week, a young lady was gathering her notes and materials to start work as a Research and Development Associate. It was her first day and as she prepared for it, she mused about coming back to her alma mater in this new role. Karishma graduated from ASB in the spring of 2009 after spending seven years at the school; now, uppermost on her mind was the notion that she’d have to call her former teachers by their first names.
These two stories served as important reminders to the educators at ASB. As the school looks towards its 35th anniversary in 2015–2016, it is time to reflect on the years gone by and celebrate the journey to this landmark year.
Established in August 1981 with 14 students and five teachers in a single room at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, the school now has nearly 800 students and 150 educators, spread across two campuses. As part of our all-staff orientation this year, we asked veteran teachers to share highlights from their time at ASB.
The school’s narrative is rich. In the 1980s, we were subject to attacks by a domestic activist group. In the late 1990s, we moved to a yet undeveloped swampland, where we stood alone as pioneers in the development of the Bandra Kurla Complex, now one of India’s chief economic hubs. In the first decade of the 21st century, we suffered the catastrophic loss of our head of school, and entered into a less-than-congenial relationship with regulators. We emerged from those challenges committed to a new mission and with a clear plan for improvement. Since then, we have been on a trailblazing path of change to keep ourselves relevant.
As for an aging parent or veteran teacher, the return of Francesco and Karishma put the school’s “age” in immediate sight and highlighted for us the need to start pulling together the anecdotes of our past so that, as we look to the future, we remain aware of all that has made us who we are.
We will thus publish a comprehensive history of ASB and chronicle changes in teaching approaches over the last four decades. Our growth and change, our failures and successes, in many ways parallel the evolution of educational theory and practice in international schools. From open floor plans to project-based learning, from ASB’s first computer in 1986 to leading the way in integrating technology, we have consistently implemented best and emerging practices.
As the American School of Bombay approaches its 35-year milestone, the book will serve as a cherished memoir to those who have been part of the community, an engaging account of dreams shared and goals reached for future generations to read and smile about.

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