Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel (ret.)
March 26, 2020
This month I stepped down as Co-Chairman of the American Schools of Marrakech (ASM) and Tangier (AST), after having co-chaired for the past 10 years with my colleague Larry Kardon during a time of significant change and progress. We took over the reins from the well-known American icon, Joe McPhillips, following his death in 2007. Joe came to Tangier in 1962 to work at the first American school, AST, and went on to inaugurate another school under our corporate umbrella in Marrakech in 1995.
The schools we inherited were a tribute to Joe’s charismatic personality, and were driven by his sheer commitment to bringing the best of American education to Morocco. This year we were proud to add The American School of Benguerir (ASB), in conjunction with the University of Mohammed VI Polytech (UM6P).
During the past decade the schools have reached a superior level of excellence, as shown by the acceptances of our graduates to the highest rated universities in Europe and the US. This is mainly due to the headmasters who were recruited to operate the schools, Sarah Putnam at AST and Jean Brugniau at ASM. The United States has acknowledged this excellence by awarding various government grants for which the schools competed against worldwide competition. Private donors and parents are now stepping up to modernize the schools’ facilities as well, with several partnerships to be announced in the coming year.
In the past six years both schools have achieved US accreditation, with ASM beginning the process of awarding the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma and AST offering an Advanced Placement (AP) degree. We have also been successful in attracting the first American university in Morocco to be located on the campus in Tangier – New England University – which provides added opportunities and new facilities for the benefit of our students and community.
Perhaps most importantly, during the past decade we witnessed the signing of the first US-Moroccan protocol on schools, legally recognizing the American schools of Morocco and their unique American curriculum. This will allow a foundation for advancing American education and supporting US expatriates who look for top-notch American educational opportunity for their children in Morocco.
As we look ahead to the next decade, we are strengthening our governance structures and board of trustees, recently announcing the appointment of our new Co-Chair, Madison Cox, who will join with Larry Kardon in the oversight of the three American schools. Madison is a world renowned landscape designer, and importantly, President of the Majorelle Gardens and head of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) properties in Morocco, including the YSL museum.
While no one will be able to fill the void left by Joe McPhillips, we believe the tradition he started nearly sixty years ago – to bring the US and Morocco closer together by offering American educational opportunities for its young citizens and the children of American expatriates – is strong and growing. AST and ASM have added much to this vision and with the addition of ASB, we have much more to look forward to in bringing our two countries closer together.