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The International School of Minnesota


Article by Eden Prairie Lifestyle

Photography by International School of Minnesota

Minnesota’s education system is one of the best in the country with many of the best schools right in our backyard. One school that particularly stands out is The International School of Minnesota (ISM), a private preschool through grade 12 college prep school in Eden Prairie. Nestled on a vibrant 57-acre campus just west of Bryant Lake Regional Park this “hidden gem” of a school has been educating students for the past 35 years, with roots tracing back to 1886. 

You’ve most likely driven by its sign on the corner of Highway 62 and Beach Road marked by three rotating country flags that stand tall behind it, but do you know what the school is all about?

ISM’s mission is to provide an affordable, top-quality education to a highly diverse student body. The pillar of the school is its Student Life Organization® (SLO®), which provides students with a platform to acquire and refine life and leadership skills. 

“SLO is divided into nine different departments with areas of focus including academics, sports, social responsibility, and community outreach, all of which are led by a head prefect,” said Jean Åkesson, who has taught at ISM for 28 years and currently serves as the school’s Student Life Coordinator. 

“The students who head SLO applied for their positions like they would for any job, complete with an extensive interview process, because they’re all taking an active, impactful role in the school and the community.

“Our SLO leaders organize several special events throughout the year. The events not only let our SLO leaders do good for their fellow students and the surrounding community – they develop them into tomorrow’s leaders as well. Our events often blend lower and upper school students together, so the younger kids get to spend time with great role models. It means a lot for lower and middle schoolers to meet the kind of people they’ll want to become in just a few years’ time.”

Rigorous academics are also at the core of the ISM student experience. The college-preparatory curriculum challenges students to reach their fullest academic potential.

“Whether students live only a few minutes away or are one of the 39 international students, everyone who comes to ISM becomes a true global citizen as they experience different cultures firsthand. Part of that includes ISM’s language program, in which students choose to learn French, Spanish, or Chinese from native speakers. Both of my children are ISM alumni and fluent not only in their second languages, but also in those languages’ authentic accents.” World language classes are taught daily beginning in preschool.

“It’s a very exciting time to be at ISM. We recently added a new dining hall as well as an amazing new chef who prepares delicious, healthy meals for our students and staff. He’s received such accolades that we’re planning on adding a dine-in or take-out dinner service to help alleviate some mealtime stress for our families,” said ISM Executive Director Mahdi Kansou.

“We’ve also launched a Golf Academy, added two state-of-the-art science labs, and will soon create a new art studio and robotics lab. A journalism/audio-visual lab is also in the works,” Kansou reported.

Although ISM is a small school in growth mode, its reach is still unmatched. As a member of the SABIS® Network, a world-renowned network of schools that has gained recognition for its innovative educational approach, students make global connections. These connections come from the campus community as well as the extended SABIS community, which consists of 70,000 students in 20 countries on five continents. No other school in Minnesota has such a vast local and global network. 

“Everything we offer at ISM is designed to create strong, intelligent, and confident individuals who want to contribute something meaningful to the world. I witnessed the results in my own children as they both graduated college early. I’m delighted to see those same results again and again as we welcome more eager new students to our school each year,” Åkesson said. 

To learn more about ISM, please visit

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