School History


International School Moshi was founded in 1969 initially serving the children of those professional expatriates who staffed the various medical departments of KCMC, the main teaching hospital in Moshi. Initially clases went only up to Grade 8, but additonal years were quickly added.

In 1973, ISM became the first International Baccalaureate school in the continent of Africa and our first IB Diploma students graduated in 1975.

ISM hosted a conference in Moshi in 1980 entitled The needs of the child in the middle years of schooling under the auspices of the International Schools Association. This conference recommended the establishment of the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the world-renowned MYP was born.

Responding to requests from families in Arusha, about 90 km to the west of Moshi, ISM established a branch in Arusha in 1986 initially for primary school children only.

In 1995, ISM began the expansion of Arusha Campus to include secondary day students. The following year, we were able to move from our rented accommodation in Arusha to our new purpose-built campus.

in 2007, both ISM campuses were authorised to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate.

By 2014, the Arusha Campus was authorised to offer the IB Diploma and thus join Moshi Campus in offering three IB programmes – PYP, MYP and Diploma. ISM Moshi and Arusha Campuses now accommodates over 500 students including over 150 boarders and 150 day students on the Moshi Campus, and just over 200 students on the Arusha Campus.

From Grassroots to Graduation (1969-1975)

As early as 1962, when the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre was still only a paper project, thinking people were looking ahead to a school which would serve the children of’ those professional expatriates who would eventually staff the various medical departments of K.C.M.C. These first visions were of a secondary school which would be fed by the Kibo English Language School and the Augustana Lutheran School at Kiomboi, then providing primary education for American expatriate children.
An unexpected turn of events in 1969, when the Kibo School was converted to Swahili, led immediately to the opening of a primary International Day-school with classes to Grade 8, which first met in the K.C.M.C. School of Nursing buildings. And truly International it was, with its enrolment of 67 pupils representing thirteen separate nations, its unanimous acceptance by the International Schools Association in Geneva, the inclusion of a variety of “Mother Tongue” classes in the curriculum, not to mention the school song composed by the Swahili class -in Swahili! -and the bright kitengi uniforms which lent spirit and identity to this new school community which was being ably guided by the Headmistress, Mrs. J. Mortenson.
However, schools like this do not just “happen”, and there is much more to the establishment of such a school than all eager collection of children with a pressing educational need. Already in October 1965, when sights were still set on a secondary school which might well have been called “The Good Samaritan Academy”, Mr. I. D. Mortenson, Development Director of the Good Samaritan Foundation, the parent body of K.C.M.C., sent out an appeal for support for the proposed school to fifteen different World Mission groups, outlining the need, background and the proposals to date. This was followed a more specific appeal with an accompanying draft constitution and questionnaire which was sent to all known interested groups. The most positive and practical response came from the Board for World Missions of the Lutheran Church, in America. This group felt the heed to transfer its school from Kiomboi to Moshi. Eventually, it joined with the U.S.A. National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation in earmarking $100,000 U.S. for the school project. In contributing this, these groups made it possible for the school to be inaugurated. They were assisted by small grants made available by other agencies, both in Tanzania and abroad.
Most encouraging support came in 1966 from the Tanzanian Minister for Education, Mr. Eliufoo, who wrote to Mr. Mortenson urging him to “make a start”. He also urged that the newly completed International Baccalaureate curriculum be developed and adopted in the school; and assured him of the unqualified support of his Ministry in this endeavour. The start was accordingly made, and interested groups were kept well abreast of the progress through regular reports. In 1969, Mr. Mgonja, the National Education Minister in Tanzania wrote – “Thank you for keeping me well informed regarding the progress of the above project (International Secondary School). I wish to reassure you that it will fill a vital gap in the educational needs of the children of foreign experts who are much needed in the development of our country. I shall be delighted to see this project materialize at the earliest possible time”.
And then Kibo School closed. Suddenly the need had changed. Primary school children in significant numbers needed a school. So, without buildings or the time to recruit a planned staff, the International School began. This provided a catalyst for concrete planning and action; the fact that when the school opened in October 1969, more than 100 applicants had to be turned away because of insufficient places, clearly indicated the very real need the school was already beginning to fill. At this time, it was hoped to begin the new school buildings, for which a contract was awarded to Solel Boheh of Israel, in January 1970, and that the occupation of these buildings with the commencement of boarding could follow in mid-September of the same year. In actual fact, the move was made in October 1970, and the boarding house opened with 48 boarders in September 1971. The commencement of the boarding was largely made possible by the transfer of a basic boarding house and school equipment from the Augustana School at Kiomboi.
At first, the school had a very small full-time staff, and much valuable help was given by the willing group of part-time and voluntary teachers. A fine beginning was made in fields of art and music, with a school choir and band drawing large groups of children into worthwhile cultural and artistic activities. As the student population grew, it was seen that the recruitment of a full-time staff had become a major priority, and the responsibility for this was placed in the hands of the Headmistress.
In April 1971, Mrs. Mortenson returned to the U.S.A., and Mrs. B. Rasmussen of T.P.C. took over the formidable task of leading and consolidating the rapid school development now taking place. She was assisted by the School Board of Governors, which later, after the arrival of the present Headmaster, Mr. D. Nettelbeck in April 1972, became the Board of Directors when the school became a Limited Company ~ International School Moshi Limited. Before long, the secondary school was fully-functioning, and as had been urged, the curriculum of the International Baccalaureate Examination was being followed. Students were also able to take the “O-Level” examinations of the London University. This year, the first class of International Baccalaureate graduates will pass out of I.S.M., to everyone’s pride and satisfaction.
During the past two years, the early interest in Drama and Music has been maintained, and the students have presented a number of plays and musicals with great success. They have also keenly enjoyed mountain climbing and camping expeditions, visits to the theatre in Arusha an Arts Festival, and annual swimming carnivals at the Y .M.C.A. pool. From time to time, inter-school sporting matches are organized, and the I.S.M. teams have carried off a fair share of the honours of the field. An important feature of 1974 was the visit to the school of an assessment team of the International Schools Association of Geneva, headed by Mr. S. H. Clague-Smith and Mr. S. Moshi. Many constructive suggestions and comments were made by this team, especially with regard to curriculum, and efforts are now being made to activate and implement these for the enhancement of the standard and spirit of the school.
The ISM. story would not be complete at this stage without mention of the Parent-Teacher Association. This group met first in September 1971, and in 1973 had its role and purpose defined by act of the Board of Directors. Valuable interest and support for all areas of the life of the school have come from this group, and its money-raising efforts have resulted in the students’ changing rooms, the running tracks and playing fields, and the accommodation for the school’s horses.
So today, as we cheer our first graduation class on its way and as we celebrate the growth and development of I.S.M. during more than 5½ years since the first primary classes gathered at K.C.M.C., there is a deep sense of the importance of the vision and zeal of those who pioneered this school, of those who provided the necessary finance and personal support which brought it from the vision to the reality, and of the hundreds of students and teachers who have brought to the school over the years their own unique contribution of colour spirit, a contribution which goes on as part of the life of I.S.M. regardless of its future.

(The booket “From Grassroots to Graduation” was published by ISM in 1975 to celebrate our first graduating class)