In 1978, an association of interested German expatriates, led by Siegfried A. Kessler, a former president of Carl Zeiss, founded the German Forum with the goal of establishing a German school in the New York area. Mr. Kessler hoped that the school would be "one that would contribute to improving relations between two nations." A year later, this group was joined by the Deutscher Auslandsschulverein New York, or German School Association, which was set up as trustee of the school. (In 1986, both groups together formed the “German School New York", an education corporation in the State of New York that today is the governing body of the school.)
On September 8, 1980, German School New York (Deutsche Schule New York) opened its doors to 64 students from grades one through five. Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hans Dietrich Genscher, led the official dedication ceremony soon thereafter, on September 23rd. Speaking as the designated representative of the Federal Republic of Germany, he affirmed that the school would primarily provide German-speaking children with an education that would be recognized in their home countries. He also emphasized, however, that the school should not isolate itself, but should integrate into its surroundings and incorporate its American context into its own activities and perspectives. This way, the school would become a bridge and meeting point between Germans and Americans.
Not long after its founding the school underwent significant developments, starting with the purchase of its school building in White Plains, NY in 1982. To accommodate more students of different age groups, an Upper School division was soon added to the elementary school. The German School New York was the first German school for students from New York City's boroughs Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as well as New Jersey, Westchester, and Connecticut. The first Upper School graduation took place on May 15, 1989.
The period between 1997 and 2001 saw the largest of many improvements to the school’s facilities, namely the construction of a state-of-the-art gym—complete with rock-climbing wall.
By the school's 30th anniversary in September 2010, the student body had grown to 350 with a faculty of over 40 teachers. Also that month, the school completed the installment of solar panels on the gymnasium roof as part of an ongoing effort to reduce its ecological footprint. Thirty five years after its founding, the school had grown to a student body of 400 and a faculty of over 50 teachers.
More recently, there have been changes to the school’s educational program, including the introduction of the twelve-year curriculum, the implementation of the German International Abitur curriculum (or German high school diploma, also known as the DIA, conferred beginning with the class of 2017), and the introduction of a bilingual pre-kindergarten program for three- and four-year-olds.
At the Annual Meeting in November 2013, the Corporation members approved a proposal to change the name of the school to German International School New York, or GISNY for short. The name change became official in September 2014. Today, GISNY enrolls over 400 students and has a faculty of over 50 teachers.
In May 2017, the Board of Trustees approved steps in the expansion and enhancement of the “Campus of the Future”. This first part was completion of the new building in September 2019 which includes a larger cafeteria, a multi-purpose room, an improved student lounge, updated library, new faculty room, offices and classrooms for differentiated instruction as well as storage areas and a basement. Currently the school is working on plans for a remodeled science wing.
History of Heads of School