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Üsküdar American Academy is a private coeducational high school located in Istanbulmarker, Turkeymarker. It was established in 1876. It is highly regarded as one of the most academically rigorous institutions in Turkey.

History

American Academy for Girls (later called Üsküdar American Academy) was originally founded in 1876 in Bahçecik, a town in the province of Kocaelimarker by Congregational missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The school was moved to Adapazarımarker where it remained until World War I. The site in Baglarbaşı, a neighbourhood on the Asian part of İstanbul, was originally the American College for Girls. ACG vacated the Baglarbaşı site in 1914 and moved to Arnavutköy, a neighbourhood on the European side of Bosphorusmarker, leaving the Baglarbaşı campus empty from 1914-1921 except for the years 1914-1915 when the buildings of the school were used as an Armenianmarker orphanage by the Americansmarker and the years 1915-1918 when the Turkish army used the school as a barracks.

When Üsküdar American Academy for Girls was looking for a new location in Istanbul, it moved to the present site in Baglarbaşı in the early 1920’s. With its new site and in the spirit of the new Republic of Turkey, the school became dedicated to quality education for girls. In 1925, the education at the school was being done in the basement of Barton Hall and in Bowker Hall. The Round House was in the same place as it is today. There was a wooden black building in the place of Emir Konak. There was a chapel in the place of the present gymnasium in which Sunday worship services were held for the local Christian community. During the week it was an assembly hall and classes were held in the basement. There was originally a stable on the site where Kinney Cottage stands today. The school’s need for milk was met by the cows that lived in the stable. The stable was later demolished and the Practice House (Kinney Cottage) was built as a homemaking skills practicing center for the seniors. The building was named Kinney Cottage in memory of Mary Kinney who was the principal of the school when it moved from Adapazarı.

The total number of students in the kindergarten, primary, and junior high school classes was only 242. There were 3 Muslim Turkish students among the Armenian Christian students in the lycee classes. As one of these students, Semiha Malatyalıoğlu talked about being a Turkish Muslim and not being able to share the celebration of her religious holidays with her classmates or of her friends not wholeheartedly sharing her enthusiasm for the new Turkish nationalism that was filling the air. These were awkward days in the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkeymarker. After the Treaty of Lausanne and the resulting new Education Law, like other foreign schools, the kindergarten and the primary sections of the school were closed and the school continued with the junior high school under the Turkish Ministry of Education. For the first few years, Turkish classes were not taught, but Bible classes were necessary for the Christian students. French was the second language. The grades were given out of 100 and the passing grade was 70.

Old commencements were adorned with written essays. Some essays were read in addition to music concerts and songs by the school choir. After 1926, the staff of the school which had been mostly Armenian started to change. American teachers were added to the faculty. Besides this, the biggest change was that the Turkish cultural lessons were added to the education curriculum. These lessons were now taught by Turkish teachers.

With the mobilization for education that was begun in the early years of the new Republic of Turkey, the foreign schools attracted the attention of Muslim Turkish students. The number of Turkish students increased dramatically. Consequently Bible lessons were given only as an elective, even for the Christian students. The morning worship service was discontinued. The extracurricular activities in the school increased. The traditional May Day was a celebration day that all students looked forward to with the Maypole dance and other special activities. Students were also active participants in Turkish national celebrations.

Üsküdar American Academy experienced a radical change in 1990 when it admitted boys for the first time into the Orta Prep class. With this change, "American Academy for Girls" became part of history and the school became known as "Üsküdar American Academy". With the help of USAID grants, the Sabancı Holding, supportive parents, and the Health and Education Foundation (SEV) physical changes have also continued with the building of a gymnasium, the restoration of Bowker and Barton Halls, and the construction of Morgan Hall, the science, math and computer building. Today the school, like the affiliated American schools in İzmirmarker and Tarsusmarker, as well as the American Hospital in Gaziantepmarker, is under the governance of the Health and Education Foundation, which carries full responsibility and authority for operating the school. The school properties are also owned by SEV, while the American Board retains the operating permits.

With the passing of the 8-year mandatory education law, Üsküdar American Academy, like all foreign schools, gradually phased out the middle school, added a prep section for the lycee and now maintains only a high school program. To fill in the void left by the closing of the Orta schools, SEV has opened an elementary school that goes through the eighth grade, offering quality English instruction to supplement the Turkish curriculum. It is hoped that the tradition begun so many years ago will continue for many years to come through SEV elementary schools and Üsküdar American Academy.

For more and detailed information on the history of Üsküdar American Academy, refer to History of Üsküdar American Academy by Fay Linder.

Philosophy

The mission of Uskudar American Academy is to contribute to the growth of individuals who combine self-confidence with a firm sense of personal and social responsibility. The aim is to enable the students to be strong bilinguals, well-educated adults, lifelong learners, and efficient communicators, who have developed skills, accountability, and attitudes for leading a fulfilling life and for serving their country and humanity. In pursuit of Uskudar American Academy's mission, the institutions goal is to provide excellence in holistic education so that each student:

  • Practices a clear commitment to the ideals of Atatürk.
  • Achieves the fullest possible realization of his/her individual potential.
  • Develops mind, body, and spirit to live as a well-balanced individual who can pursue higher education and lifelong learning.
  • Learns critical thinking, social and communication skills.
  • Shows commitment to justice, human rights, ethical behavior, tolerance, and self-discipline.
  • Is committed to bilingual and multicultural interaction for the appreciation of diversity of perspectives and cultures.
  • Adapts creatively and innovatively to life and work using scientific inquiry, literary and artistic approaches, information technology, and the social sciences.
  • Embodies responsibility, initiative and follow through, honesty and generosity, effective teamwork, and democratic leadership.
  • Participates fully in democratic processes and philanthropic organizations as part of lifelong service to humanity.


Academics

The elementary objectives of academics at the Uskudar American Academy is mastery of Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes. The program of Üsküdar American Academy was created with İzmir American Collegiate Institute and Tarsus American College (the American Board Schools of SEV) and approved in 2002 by the Turkish Ministry of Education. The first class will graduate from the Prep English plus 4 year high school program in 2007.

In the fall of 2005, beginning with the Class of 2009, some modifications were made in the Grade 9 program to reflect some recent changes made in the Turkish national curriculum. One change took effect immediately. Beginning with the Class of 2009, Turkish Language and Literature will be divided into two courses: Turkish Language Arts (Dil ve Anlatım) and Turkish Literature (Türk Edebiyatı). More changes will be made for the 2006-2007 school year pending approval by the Turkish Ministry of Education. It is not intended to change the basic philosophy on which the school program is based.

The Prep and English programs at Uskudar American Academy are known for their excellence. Courses in the language arts (comprehension of written texts, processed written essays, fluent and correct spoken English, logical thinking and organization of ideas, analysis of literature, research leading to papers or presentations, and vocabulary development) are offered with the goal of preparing Turkish students to have the ability to become independent and original thinkers. Uskudar American Academy has also been applauded for its extensive stress in the mathematics and natural sciences fields.

Campus

Situated on a hill in the residential district of Üsküdarmarker, the school campus includes 8 buildings sited on 18,000 square meters. Currently a long-term renovation program is in place to modernize the physical plant. Both Martin Hall and Bowker Hall were renovated in the early nineties. A new gymnasium was constructed in 1991 and a new math-science-computer facility, Morgan Hall was opened in 1994. A twelve-unit faculty apartment building was opened in 1997 and Barton Hall, a central academic building, was renovated in two phases in 1998 and 1999. Huntington Hall was renovated in 2001.

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