In 2012, Leipzig International School (LIS) celebrated 20 years. It was the first international school in central Germany, and is now the largest, with over 800 students from 60 countries led by teachers from 20 nations. Here, in brief, is the story of Leipzig International School so far:
At the hands of an adventurous trio – Todd Becker, Elke Urban and Ursula Lehmann-Grube – LIS opened its doors as a kindergarten in 1992, with just three children, one teacher and much improvisation and goodwill. In 1993 grade one was added, and within a year 25 children from grades one to five were able to call the school their own. That year, LIS was approved by the State of Saxony and granted Ersatzschul status. On the heels of the peaceful revolution of 1989, it was a time of freedom and the perfect moment to found a school.
Following the reunification of Germany, international companies started moving to Leipzig, and their employees and families necessarily followed. In 1995, LIS began providing secondary education for the children of these families, thus contributing to the economic and cultural renaissance of the city and surrounding region.
Securing the financial viability of the school, however, meant increasing student intake further, and the agreed strategy was to include more local children. By 1997, the school had reached 70 students in grades one to eight. In 1998 the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) was introduced at grade nine level. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme followed in 2000, initially being taught to an intimate group of three students.
The aim during this period was to raise the profile of LIS, hitherto one of Leipzig’s best kept secrets. The school moved into its current premises at 47 Könneritzstraße with a well attended opening ceremony, and in 2001 there were 120 students. This year saw Michael Webster take up the headship of LIS: his ambitious and energetic stewardship was to be crucial during these years of growth. At the end of the year, four students were celebrated as the first to take IB examinations and graduate from LIS.
During the 2003-04 school year the primary school ran separate classes at each grade level for the first time. A rich extra-curricular programme was also inaugurated. In 2005-06 the school received a grant of almost €8 million for building renovations and the construction of a new sports facility on the Könneritzstraße grounds. Enrolment rose to 420 students that year.
2006 was a year of change and excitement as the school embarked on the massive building and renovation project. The Board of Governors, staff and parents busied themselves to relocate the school temporarily and rapidly: the next 15 months would be spent away from home.
After eight years of invaluable service, Michael Webster retired in July 2009, handing over to Roel Scheepens. In February 2010, the community began the self-study process for accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). 2010 saw landscaping of the grounds and the building of a versatile playground for younger children. The accreditation self-study was completed in June 2011 and in September 2011 the board hosted a planning session with staff, students and parents to turn it into the 'Coming of Age' Strategic Plan. The week-long team visit from CIS and NEASC, took place in November 2011, and accreditation was granted by both in January 2012.
As of August 2014 David Smith is the Head of School, the IBCP (International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme) has been introduced as an alternative pathway to graduation from Grades 11 and 12, and LIS opened its second campus, the Leipzig International Kindergarten, in neighbouring Plagwitz.