ISKL Through the Decades


Head of School
Robert Fendley: 1965-1968
Albert Chudler: 1968-1970

ISKL began with a modest start in 1965 in Istana Tetamu, on Jalan Maxwell, following several months of planning by the first head of school, Robert Fendley, Dr. Luebke of the Office of Overseas Schools and school board members. With nine teachers and 48 students in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades, the academic courses were based on an American curriculum.

  • School was in an Istana (palace)...sounds quite grand...
  • What was the connection to Vietnam at the time?
  • When and where was the first graduation?
  • Remember Sekbangsa

When Al Chudler arrived in 1968, he inherited a school where enrollment was rapidly increasing due to the influx of oil companies investing in Malaysia. The fine arts and athletics programs were thriving and the first inter-school debates and sports activities were organized with Singapore American School. This marked the beginning of a friendly rivalry that continues to this day. By the end of this decade there were nearly 400 students from 24 countries.

  • Where were the sports fields and the stage?
  • Enter the Harimau!
  • 1970 - time to plan for a new ISKL, with new courses and facilities



Head of School
Robert B. Gaw: 1970-1978
Gail Schoppert: 1978-1983

Five years after ISKL’s establishment, the school was growing and thriving. The 1970s demonstrated a commitment to development in all areas; academics, athletics and student organizations. During this decade there were many milestones, beginning with the establishment of ISKL’s chapter of the National Honor Society on November 2, 1970 at a formal banquet in the Merlin Hotel. Accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) was granted and the Student-Parent-Teacher Association (SPTA) was formed. Enrollment continued to increase so by 1979 it topped the 600 students mark. Hence, perhaps the most significant milestone came In 1973 when, after several years of searching, the land in Ampang Jaya was acquired. The Malaysian Government agreed to lease to the society the 5.6 acres for a period of 99 years. In January 1976 the Ampang Campus opened.

  • What were some of the other milestones?
  • How did the Vietnam War affect Malaysia?
  • Who was the first guidance counselor?
  • Have you heard of The Panther Trail, The Informer, or The Fishwrap?



Head of School
Gail Schoppert: 1978-1983
Joseph Kennedy: 1983-1986
Ronald J Dowty: 1986-1987
Dexter Lewis: 1987-1989
Dr. Richard Krajczar: 1989-1996

Throughout the 1980s enrollment fluctuated, somewhat aligned to the ups and downs of the Malaysian economy. The school was changing. Head of School, Joseph S. Kennedy, stated in the 1986 yearbook:

“The student enrollment of less than a hundred has grown to its present level of almost nine hundred. What was originally a school for the Americans, now has students from almost fifty different countries enrolled.”

Overtime this led to changes such as; adoption of the International Baccalaureate program, formation of a separate Middle School, extension of the day for the youngest students, principals were hired for each division and there was a variety of construction on the Ampang campus.

Many of these changes arose out of the self studies for WASC, an accreditation process that, along with CIS, continues to serve the school well in validating and encouraging positive development.

Technology was developing fast in the world and ISKL recognized the importance of this and started to develop its IT program by ensuring students had access to the the latest resources.

This decade also saw the formation of IASAS and its growth towards the vibrant association it is today. Although initially formed for sporting competition, it soon encompassed the various areas of Arts and the MUN etc. It was at this time that the PAC (Panther Athletic Activities Club) being formed by students to earn money to pay for IASAS trips and the beginning of the PAC Shack.

  • When and where was the first High School Trip?
  • Who was Derek Haught?
  • Did you ever go to the Teen Center?



Head of School
Dr. Richard Krajczar: 1989-1996
Barry Farnham: 1996-1999

Much of the 1990s was characterised by growth in student numbers and building projects, including a middle school extension, more classrooms, a dance studio, senior lounge and the largest project of all, a new campus at Melawati. Land had finally been purchased and work started in May 1991, with Melawati campus opening in August 1992.

Meanwhile, implementation of the International Baccalaureate program began, foreign language was added for the older students, band became an option in Grade 5 and technology continued to grow. It was time for a strategic plan. During the 1994-1995 school year the board and representative members of the community developed a Mission Statement and a set of Core Values to be used in guiding future planning at ISKL. Based on this the board authorized the development of the strategic plan.

At the end of this decade Malaysia encountered financial difficulties due to the economic downturn, not helped by a prolonged haze. The fortunes of the school mirrored the location, meaning the school was not in a good place by the end of 1999. One good thing to come out of the haze was the successful implementation of the on-line/on-site-program for students who either stayed at home of left the country.

  • Welcome to the BBS!...what was that?
  • How did the Booster Club begin?
  • When and where was the first H4H (Habitat for Humanity) build?



Head of School
William Powell: 2000-2006
Paul Chmelik: 2006-2013

The start of the new millennium saw a reestablishment of the expectations for the community to resolve issues of the previous few years, moving the school forward. Decisions and actions were consistently focused on school improvement and realizing our school’s mission statement.

An array of highly qualified consultants were invited to ISKL who influenced school board governance, educational programs, teaching, assessment, and personal relationships. Professional development blossomed. Once again the school was moving forward and a great place to be for students, faculty and staff. Recognizing the growth pattern that was happening with enrollment, discussions of long-term plans for future locations for ISKL began, including relocate to a new campus that could accommodate all three divisions.

In 2004-2005, ISKL celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Campus improvements continued, including an artificial field, a new "Pac Shack" area, the swimming pool was re-tiled, the Melawati Library was expanded, a new High School science lab was built, and the Melawati Studio was enhanced by better sound, lighting, and screen equipment.


  • The establishment of the IB Scholarship program
  • A growing contact with alumni
  • The start of a Global Action Program (GAP) for High School students



Head of School
Paul Chmelik: 2006-2013
Dr. Norma Hudson: 2013-2019

The new decade of ISKL has seen significant changes in the administration as the school sets about to continue its growth and development as a world class school, while maintaining the ISKL feel - “a small school with big school opportunities”.

In 2012, almost 10 years into the search of a new campus site, an inquiry regarding a 26 acre site of Jalan Ampang Hilir was acknowledged and given support by the Malaysian Government. The ISKL Board announced in April 2013 that they were negotiating with various government agencies on the site. The new Ampang Hilir site is our opportunity to deliver an exceptional world-class international school, keeping ISKL relevant into the future, continuing to provide a superior education to our current students, and the students of tomorrow. The new campus was ready in August 2018 and was officially opened on February 2019.