Last updated 15 March 2017

Mr Steve Razidlo – The American International School, Vienna



ExpatFinder had the chance to speak to Mr Steve Razidlo, the Director of The American International School in Vienna, Austria. Mr Razidlo has been living in Vienna, Austria for three years, following a career in public school education in Minnesota, USA. Mr Razidlo shares his experiences, as well as the different programs, the variety of students, the local culture’s effect in learning and so much more in his full interview below.

Company: The American International School • Vienna

Category: International schools

Established since: 1959

Geographical coverage: Austria



Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and the teachers at the school.

A: Directing a school of nearly 800 students, within the extraordinary city of Vienna, is a rewarding and challenging opportunity and devotion. I landed in Vienna three years ago after a career as superintendent of a large public school district in Minnesota. As Director at AIS Vienna, I am committed to the on-going growth and support of our instructional staff. We employ instructional staff with the knowledge and experience necessary to provide an excellent education for students in elementary, middle, and high school. 80+% of our teachers are American, and most have earned a Master’s degree or higher. Additionally, we hire teachers with strong previous experience, especially in international settings. Being able to witness the growth of our students is gratifying and exceptionally rewarding to me as a career educator. 

Q: What makes your school stand out in terms of teaching methods, curriculum and facilities?

A: AIS Vienna teaches a North American and international curriculum, which addresses our students’ individual strengths and learning styles. We offer the International Baccalaureate diploma program, which allows our graduates to study at universities around the world. Our students consistently score higher than the local and international average. Our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, a personal device for each student (Grades 4-12), and ample space for arts, music, athletics, and outdoor learning.

Q: Do you feel the need to incorporate the local culture with your international program?

A: The city of Vienna, regularly voted as the #1 city with the best quality of life in the world, makes up our ‘extended campus’ with frequent trips to its various museums and cultural offerings. Knowing that language is an important factor in connecting to the local culture, we offer (5 to 8, depending on grade level) strong German courses, from beginner to native, at all grade levels.

Q: Which are the most represented nationalities in your student population?

A: AIS has a significant number of students with more than one nationality. We take pride in having a diverse international community. Our most represented student groups are U.S. and Canadian citizens, which make up a third of our school. Austrian, Russian, Korean and 49 other nationalities make up the rest of our diverse and multilingual student body.

Q: What are the major challenges that you face as an international school in Vienna?

A: International schools teaching an American-style curriculum are popular among applicants both locally and internationally. One of the reasons students learn English so quickly at AIS is because we offer an immersion in the English language, both inside and outside the classroom. Every year our challenge is to find students who meet our selective admissions requirements while maintaining our high percentage of native English speakers.

Q: How do you help students overcome language and cultural barriers with their schoolmates?

A: AIS maintains a diverse yet predominantly English-speaking student body (approximately 350 are native English speakers or bilingual with English as one of their home languages), supported by a thorough and selective admissions process that also ensures every student can be supported and be successful, whatever their passion, strengths, talents, or interests may be.

While English speakers make of the majority of the student population, we also offer targeted English as an Additional Language (EAL) support, especially in the Elementary and Middle School levels. Every year, we welcome about (or at least) 150 new students to AIS. Our team of counselling, admissions and support services staff work with teachers to actively integrate new families into our school community. AIS actively addresses the challenges and opportunities faced by globally mobile students and their families.

Q: Do you provide personalised assistance and extra-curricular programmes to help students adapting to the new country and international school?

A: After School Activities and Athletics offer a safe and fun environment for students to make friends, develop team-building skills and travel to our regional partner schools. Our Parent-Teacher Forum Newcomers Committee organises events and a buddy program that pairs new parents with parents who already know the school.

Q: Do you have a special needs program?

A: We can support students with mild to moderate learning needs, who can work toward the successful completion of AIS academic requirements. For these students, we have dedicated staff and assistants at each level.

Q: In your opinion, what attitude and attributes should a student possess to thrive in an international school environment?

A: While every student has their own personality and skills, we explicitly nurture an inclusive learning community, challenge students to strive for personal excellence, explore their passions, and foster respect through compassion for others and the world.

Q: What is one advice you'd give to parents looking for the right international school for their children?

A: In our admissions process, we help families to identify the right fit for their children, whether this is AIS or another school. We encourage parents to ask questions while evaluating their options and to think realistically about the learning program and the school location and environment in which their child will thrive.


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