American School Of Isfahan: About ASI

About ASI...

During the 1970s, Iran saw the influx of thousands of Americans, Europeans, and East Asians working for various military and civilian joint industrial ventures. Many brought their families as well, with the result that Isfahan alone hosted a non Middle Eastern community of well over ten thousand by 1978, among it's six hundred thousand residents.


At the behest of Bell Helicopter International, International Schools Services (ISS) established the American School in 1973. Although the school was set-up under ISS's contract with Bell Helicopter, it was open to the employees of other companies per arrangements between those companies (mainly Grumman Aerospace Corporation) and Bell Helicopter. Beginning in 1976, ISS contracted directly with the Irani government to operate the school.

A moderately open enrollment for those willing to pay the yearly five thousand dollar tuition added a number of children from the families of well off Irani, as well as from foreigners not sponsored by major corporations. In addition, ISS created a "model school" for the children of Imperial Irani Air Force (IIAF) families at nearby Khatami AFB.

The American School was staffed primarily by teachers hired through the ISS referral service in Princeton, New Jersey. Additional teachers, if needed, were recruited primarily from among Americans already living in Iran, in additional to a few Irani nationals. Since the wives of Grumman and Bell Helicopter employees constituted the largest pool of unemployed Americans, teachers hired locally were usually women.

Toufanian High School
Toufanian High School

Basic instruction was in English, and focused on a United States college preparatory curriculum.

Enrollment grew from less than fifty students in 1973, to over 600 by the beginning of the '78-'79 school year. Starting from a few rooms in the Iran-America Society, ASI eventually included four facilities across Metropolitan Isfahan for grades K through 12. I don't think that ISS has ever managed any other school of this size.

I suspect the small initial student body mandated that the school yearbook include all grades. As the school system grew, so did the yearbook. In retrospect this was fortunate, giving us then and now a broader look at the ASI experience. It also gave Keating's photography students more opportunities to practice their art, as well as legitimate excuses to ditch class. Each yearbook brought in a fresh faculty advisor and team of students. Freed from many of the limitations of typical Stateside yearbooks, such as stale subject matter and endless ranks of student mug shots, their efforts could more fully expose their strengths and weaknesses as developing copy writers, photographers, and editors. They may have winged it at times, but the end product was never boring.

As a part of the 2002 reunion of the combined Classes of ASI, I placed the school yearbooks Cathy Condon, Louis Casagrande, Angel Luttrel, and I have in our possession on line for your perusal. Enjoy a glimpse back at ordinary lives played out in an extraordinary place and time.

Toufanian High School from Space

The American School was closed in the midst of the revolution of 1978 - 1979, with the last of the staff and students departing in December, 1978. Since then, former students outside of Iran have had little idea what became of the school grounds or teaching materials, with a few exceptions.

Toufanian High School's buildings are now part of Malek Ashtar University's Shahinshahr campus. The University is a government-supported technical research institute.

Recently, I purchased a copy of the "City Atlas Of Isfahan" (1997, Gitashenasi, Tehran) from Omnimap. At the bottom of page 37, the Kaveh School and sports ground are still listed, adjacent to the Otoban-e-Kaveh.

Carr/Kaveh School from Space

Years ago, in response to my questions to the alt.culture.iranian USENET newsgroup, I received the following note:

From: Ali M. Zolfaghari (azolfag@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Subject: Re: Are American School of Isfahan bldgs in use?
Newsgroups: soc.culture.iranian
Date: 1994-02-09 08:29:52 PST

"Salaam Aleikom Mr Holmberg, and others,
I don't know what happened to the school buildings but I know what happened to the Library books of the high school. The library collection was really good at least in contrast to what iranian high schools had at the time. The books ended up packed in boxes in storage in the old Hakim Sanaie School in Khooche Seyed Ali Khan (the narrow street joining Chaharbagh to Ferdowsi ave.). The building of Hakim Sanaie school had been turned into a Teachers Research Center and I used to go there with my mother who was a physics teacher, so I volunteered to get the books out of the boxes and form a library out of them by shelfing them in the corner room. I made an inventory and kept a book for the borrowing of the members. The books were used in the limited research efforts of the Center. A lot of teachers wanted to know what were in the american high school and college science books. There were many good dictionaries and encyclopedias among the books. It was exciting for me to see so many books. There were a lot of good translation efforts that started forming around that library since it had good resources and was very quiet and cozy. Professor Dadkhah of Isfahan Tech Univ. used to come over and work on his translation of "Classical Electromagnetics" by Jackson. The translated book was finally published a couple of years back."

"I hope it makes you happy to know that the resources were used for the best. It sure makes me happy and brings back good memories."

I'm interested in displaying photos of Isfahan past and present. If you have any you'd like to share, particularly of present day Shahin Shahr (ShahinShahr) and Toufanian High School, Khaneh Isfahan (Khaneh Esfahan) and nearby Kaveh School, or anything else, please contact me. As an example of areas of interest, here are current maps (1997) of my former neighborhood in the Khaneh Isfahan area (small, with legend, 30kb) (large, 308kb).

If you have any comments, corrections, additional photos and stories, or ASI literature, please email me, or post to MHPCC, 550 Lipoa Parkway, Kihei, HI 96753, USA, attention to me.

Carl Holmberg

School yearbooks from the American School of Isfahan, Iran, 1974-78.