In 1979, María Mercedes Londoño de Gutiérrez, along with American educator Joanne Smith Barrett and a group of adventurous and visionary parents from Manizales, began an investigation into the possibility of creating a bilingual school following the model of other successful American International schools in the country. Their dream was to provide their children with high-quality bilingual education (English-Spanish) that would be at the forefront of the social and educational philosophy of the time. The goals proposed aimed to establish a non-denominational community-based school with comprehensive bilingual education, offering school transportation and a restaurant service. This placed Colegio Granadino at the forefront of educational practice in the city and the department from the moment of its opening.
In November 1980, the first official meeting was held, and the Colegio Granadino Association was founded with families who envisioned a progressive educational institution with significant challenges for the time. The first administrative team of the Association consisted of Dr. Alix Saffon, a lawyer from Manizales, who drafted the legal constitution of the association; Joanne Smith Barrett, who took on the role of academic director of the school; Marujita Escobar, as General Director, and María Mercedes Londoño de Gutiérrez as the Executive Director.
Thanks to the tireless efforts and continuous commitment of María Mercedes, Joanne, and this group of dedicated parents, along with the guidance of Dr. Martin Felton (director of Colegio Bolívar de Cali), the development of the curriculum and internal policies began, and the project was executed with precision and speed. Colegio Granadino opened its doors on February 9, 1981, with 45 students in Kinder 4 and Kinder 5 classes. An additional grade was opened for each subsequent year until the K4 to grade 12 program was completed.
Although the school started in a renovated house in Palogrande, it soon outgrew its initial location. In December 1982, the founders purchased a 50,000 m2 plot in the rural area of La Florida, once again being at the forefront as the first school to take the risk of moving outside the city. On February 6, 1984, Colegio Granadino opened the doors of its current location, with classes starting in the renovated area of the stables and in the original "Red House" of the estate, a building that remains the iconic symbol of the school's character and history. With 153 students and facilities built with room for expansion, Colegio Granadino began to fully fulfill its mission of providing a holistic and bilingual education focused on the social, emotional, physical, spiritual, ethical, and academic growth of its students.
In 1987, Colegio Granadino became the first school in the city to switch to the B calendar in response to academic and hiring needs, with over 20 foreign teachers on staff and growing evidence of the effectiveness of the alternative calendar. In 2001, the school obtained its international quality accreditation in education from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) - COGNIA. The accreditation ensured the continuous improvement of the educational program and offered graduating students the opportunity to receive the American High School diploma in addition to their Colombian Baccalaureate. On August 9, 2007, the final step in the growth of the school's programs was taken with the construction of Granadino Jardín Infantil, facilities built under the parameters of Reggio Emilia for the education of children aged 1 to 3. This responded to the needs of young professional parents in Manizales for the physical, emotional, and intellectual care of their children. With this last step, the school now meets the educational needs of families in all phases of pre-university education, with a program that has been classified as Very Superior, remaining in the top positions in Manizales and Caldas according to ICFES, Prueba Saber exams, MAP test, and other external tests. Located in the La Florida area, the school continues to grow and thrive, always seeking to open borders that lead its teaching-learning process to the achievement of the proposed goals for the benefit of its students and the community. Today, our students can enjoy a rural environment. The school has different facilities where the sections of Nursery, Preschool, Primary, Middle, High School operate, as well as new facilities that will be part of the School's Expansion and Growth Plan. Currently, we have 48 classrooms in operation, 3 art rooms, 2 music rooms, 1 theater room, 18 offices for different sections, 2 infirmaries, 2 auditoriums, 3 coliseums, 2 gyms, 1 dance room, 1 library, 3 laboratories, 24 general bathrooms, and 30 bathrooms in classrooms and offices (120 sinks, 98 toilets, and 16 showers), 2 restaurants, 5 soccer fields, 3 basketball courts, 1 tennis court, 1 BMX track, 5 sections of playgrounds, and a variety of green areas. The Red House, one of our iconic constructions, currently houses 14 administrative offices and 1 boardroom. This growth in facilities has naturally been in response to the change, growth, and strategic plan of the institution.