Carlucci American International School of Lisbon

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Carlucci American International School of Lisbon
São Pedro de Penaferrim, Sintra
Established 1956
Founder Anthony A. McKenna
Director Blannie Curtis
Secondary Principal Nate Chapman
Elementary Principal Katie Morris
Grades pre-school – 12th
Enrollment 675
Medium of language English
Color(s)          Blue and Red
Mascot Wolves
Accreditation CIS

The Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (known as CAISL) is a prominent not-for-profit non-denominational, co-educational international school in Sintra, Portugal, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. Operating as an a dual American and International Baccalaureate (IB) program, the school's student population is largely international, most connected to diplomatic missions and embassies in Lisbon, followed by Portuguese nationals, and a sizable minority of Americans.

Founded in 1956, it is the oldest American international school in the Iberian Peninsula and the only one in Portugal. It is named for Frank C. Carlucci, former American ambassador to Portugal and former U.S. Secretary of Defense.


A panel of azulejos celebrating CAISL's 50th anniversary with an image of the old crest of St. Columban's School superimposed in front of CAISL's current emblem.

CAISL's history begins in 1956 when the school is founded as St. Columban's School, by Irish professor Anthony A. McKenna, to serve the children of the American engineers who were in Portugal working on the Salazar Bridge (now 25 de Abril Bridge), in Lisbon, so that the children would be able to reintegrate back into the American system upon their departure from Portugal.[1] During this time, the school was housed in the Quinta da Casa Branca, an 18th century manor house and estate in Carnaxide, Oeiras, outside of Lisbon.[2]

The school renamed itself the American International School of Lisbon (AISL) in 1995, when management of the school passed from private owners to the Fundação Escola Americana de Lisboa (American School of Lisbon Foundation; FEAL), a not-for-profit foundation was created by the American Delegation to Portugal, the Ford Motor Company, and Espírito Santo Financial Group. These three entities became the three, equal members of the school's board of trustees. With the school's new not-for-profit mission and with a new oversight organization, through FEAL, AISL became a U.S. State Department-recognized school.

After the creation of FEAL in 1995, the foundation's main priority was to localize all of the schools of AISL onto one purpose-built site, as the secondary school, elementary school, and early child center had found themselves spread across the Oeiras-Cascais area over the years. In 1997, in cooperation with the municipal government of Sintra, a new purpose-built campus was built in Linhó, in the freguesia of São Pedro de Penaferrim, on land granted on a permanent lease by the municipality. In 1998, the campus was inaugurated by Hillary Clinton, then the First Lady of the United States.[3]

In 2001, the school officially changed its name to its current designation as the Frank C. Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, in honor of American diplomat and politician, Frank C. Carlucci, who served as American Ambassador to Portugal, from 1974 to 1978.[4] Carlucci, who went on to serve as Deputy Director of the CIA and U.S. Secretary of Defense, played a prominent role in Portugal following the events of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, especially in maintaining good Luso-American relations.


CAISL is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS).[5]

The school is licensed by the Portuguese Ministry of Education and an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. CAISL is the only school in Portugal with support from the Department of State of the USA.


The Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (CAISL) is governed by the Fundação Escola Americana de Lisbon (FEAL). FEAL consists of three Trustee representatives. The Trustees--Visteon Portuguese and the American Embassy in Portugal--played a major role in taking the school in 1995 from a for-profit to a not-for-profit structure and continue to appoint representatives to the Board. There are three Trustee Representatives appointed from the American Embassy (2 representatives) and Visteon (1 representative). Each Representative has a three-year term of office which is renewable at the discretion of the Trustee.

For the 2016-2017 school year, the Trustees are represented by Martin Schwartz and Michael de Mello (American Embassy) and Paula Sá (Visteon Portuguesa), Michael de Mello also serves as the President of the Board.

Management of the School is delegated by the Board to a Director, Blannie Curtis, who assumed the position in the 1997/98 school year. She is assisted by a Senior Management Team (SMT) consisting of Katie Morris, Elementary Principal; Nathan Chapman, Secondary Principal; and Paulo Parreira, Chief Business Officer.


All students who complete CAISL’s graduation requirements earn an American high school diploma. Additionally, those who fulfill the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program requirements, earn an IB diploma. CAISL graduates are eligible to apply for entrance into universities around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal and other European countries. "American education is known for its emphasis on breadth of knowledge, balance of studies, and active participation. In many systems, once students turn 16, they specialize in a field of study, whereas students in American schools study a broad range of subjects throughout their school years. Students are expected to be actively involved in their education—by participating in class, asking questions, thinking critically and working with others. While knowledge can be gained through studying a book or taking an exam, true education requires one to apply that knowledge to life’s problems and to work with others to find solutions. At CAISL, our curriculum reflects this philosophy and provides an enriching, varied and effective program of academics, arts, and athletics that inspires students to strive for individual and collective excellence." CAISL Director, Blannie Curtis.

Iberian Model United Nations[edit]

CAISL has hosted one of Europe's largest model United Nations conferences, the Iberian Model United Nations, since 1995. The conference is held in the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon.[6]

Student body[edit]

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, enrollment was 675 (EC3 through grade 5: 290; and grades 6 through 12: 385). Of the total, 95 were U.S. citizens, 267 were host-country nationals, and 313 were third-country nationals.



External links[edit]