History

From the left: Richard Ekdahl, Rhonda Durham, Geoffrey Butler

1952

“The Association of Texas Preparatory Schools,” ISAS’s predecessor, was founded. It consisted of a football league among Kinkaid, Lutheran, St. John’s, St. Mark’s, and St. Stephen’s and a girls and boys basketball championship.

1955

ISAS was founded in 1955 by Casady School in Oklahoma and seven Texas schools: The Hockaday School, The Kinkaid School, Saint Mary’s Hall, St. John’s School, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, St. Mark’s School of Texas, and Texas Military Institute. The first meeting of ISAS involved 13 schools – 5 in addition to the founding schools: Allen Academy, Concordia, Peacock Military Academy, Radford School, and St. Mary’s Hall. The moving spirit in the organization of ISAS was Alan Chidsey, Headmaster of St. John’s.

1955

Richard Ekdahl, ISAS Executive Director Emeritus, became the first Executive Director of ISAS and served until 1996.

1956

Original Constitution Statement of Purpose was composed: “To encourage, support, and develop highest standards of attainment in the independent schools of the area and to recognize those schools in which they are maintained.”

1966

The phrase "to recognize by formal accreditation” was added to the purpose. In addition to traditional standards, ISAS accreditation depended upon the requirement that 75% of each graduating class successfully complete the freshman year of college.

1995

Geoffrey Butler became the second Executive Director of ISAS. The offices were moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Fort Worth, Texas.

2005

Independent Schools Association of the Southwest reached its fiftieth anniversary honoring its advancement of high standards for independent schools in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, and Mexico.

2005

Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) separated from ISAS to become a free-standing athletic conference.

2005

ISAS schools showed extraordinary camaraderie and heroic leadership in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart and Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, took in over 420 students. At least 37 other ISAS schools made places for students from New Orleans.

2006

Rhonda Durham became the third Executive Director of ISAS. ISAS offices were moved from Fort Worth, Texas, to Midland, Texas.

2012

ISAS had grown to a membership of eighty-nine schools that stand for exceptional independent education across the region, enrolling over 50,000 students.

ISAS AT FIFTY

Composed and delivered by John Doncaster, Head of The Selwyn School (1957-1989), on the occasion of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of ISAS, The Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas, November 2006

A gleam in Alan Chidsey’s eye
Brought heads of schools around
And then and there, at his behest,
Association found.

Those few way back in fifty-six
Did sow a fertile seed
And work they did, to make a mix
Of schools that they did lead.

Chidsey, Cooper, Becker, Lyle---
The names roll off the tongue,
With Fulton, others for a while
These heads as founders sung.

And later came those others great—
Like Woolsey, Harper, Schwartz,
And Moore, Cotonio, and Van Slate
A splendid gang of sports.

The years went by. The fledgling grew
And schools joined by the score.
And so it is that now we have
Of members eighty-four.

The hands which guide this ship of state—
Well, seven states, I think—
Who’ve been the guardians of our fate,
Who’ve made a worthy link

Have been but two, and now a third
Has newly seized the helm
Presiding over eighty-four
A truly striking realm.

But let us hereby say a word
For two who’ve led the band,
For Ekdahl and the Butler’s name
Are known throughout the land.

I reckon Dick his time did spend
For nearly forty years;
And then on Geoffrey we’d depend
To circulate our peers.

Fifty years have gone by fast--
Ahead shall fifty be.
And when a hundred years have passed
May you be there to see!"