A Multilingual Tradition Since 1952
The foundations of the Lycée International date back over a half century, when General Dwight D. Eisenhower established an international, multilingual school with the same core values that inform it today.
Creation of the SHAPE School by General Eisenhower
On January 10, 1952, the SHAPE Village School, predecessor of the Lycée International, opened its doors to educate the children of the NATO officers stationed in the area. It was established by the NATO Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. General Eisenhower entrusted the school’s first Proviseur, Réné Tallard, with creating a school “of international unity, emphasizing individual nationalities, in a spirit of liberty, harmony, and humanism, and open to the inevitable changes that would be shaping the world of the future.” The idea was that children would both follow a common French curriculum and receive instruction in their own language, at native level. By July 1952, there were 150 students.
Establishment of the American Section Board
Ten years later, enrollment had reached 1,345 students. Half were the children of military officers or of the foreign civilians who had settled in the area, and the rest were local French children. In 1962 the education ministry decreed that civilians could no longer attend classes that were financed by NATO for liability reasons. American Section civilian parents decided to hire their own teachers, creating the governing association that still exists today.
Designation as a French Public School
When President de Gaulle expelled NATO from France in 1966, hundreds of military children and most of the section teachers, who were military personnel, moved away. The Dutch and German Sections remained, as well as the civilians from the British and American Sections. The Proviseur, Edgar Scherer, convinced the Education Nationale to keep the school open, arguing that bilingual and international families would relocate to the area for the school. The Lycée was soon designated a French public school, officially recognized by the Education Nationale as a mixed educational establishment structured to receive both French and foreign pupils.
Spread of the Lycée International Model
Over the ensuing decades, a network of lycées internationaux, patterned after the Lycée International de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, has grown throughout France. As importantly, the international spirit envisioned by General Eisenhower of cooperation, community and multiculturalism continues to thrive on the site of the SHAPE Village School.