In late 1997, representatives from a variety of mission organizations met to begin the formal process of establishing Grace International School (GIS), a place uniquely suited to meet the educational needs of children of Christian workers in Southeast Asia.
In the following months, five organizations made financial commitments to become Founding Members, and eight other organizations made commitments to become Founding Associate Members. Since then, over 100 like-minded organizations have joined as Associate Members. The Board of Trustees, operating under the authority of the Grace International School Educational Foundation (GISEF), includes four additional members, elected at large from the associate organizations.
Since “Grace Academy International” began in 1997, our Mission Statement has remained “To provide an integrated education from a Christian worldview, so students can face the challenges of today’s world. In the fall of 1999—GIS’s first term—176 students began classes (K-12), representing 36 organizations and parents serving in seven countries.
In 2001 God enabled purchase of a previous sports facility GIS rented and nine acres, for 350 students. Continued growth from 176 students to over 500 in our first decade confirmed we are blessed abundantly by God’s gracious provision. When that first campus became full to capacity, every year it was harder to accommodate new students.
On Aug. 27, 2004 the new primary building was dedicated; students sang the Thai national anthem for families, local police, and dignitaries, followed by prayers in English, Thai, and Korean. But a few years later, a court dispute over the property ownership threatened continued use of the secondary site.
By 2010, more than 500 students benefited from core curriculum, special needs services, fine arts, extracurricular sports, and ministry opportunities. High school classes expanded to include Advanced Placement courses for college-bound students. GIS also offers support and assistance to homeschooling families with our Extension Services Division.
In summer of 2016, after losing the court case, GIS vacated their campus of 17 years, to share a Thai school campus (for three years during construction). In 2016, 85 non-Thai and 71 Thai staff provided for 542 students—including 49 home schooled. Parents from 37 nations served with 95 organizations, working in more than 12 countries of the “10-40 Window.”
The legal dispute and lack of space had confirmed to GIS administrators the imminent need for a bigger, purpose-built campus, a Board of Trustees idea initiated in 2006.
With uncertainty in earthly things but great faith in a Heavenly Father, our superintendent at that time, Don Williams stated, “We’re praying that [the ruling] won’t be the ultimate judgment! But it is obvious that we must begin now to plan for new facilities. And we need them! We simply have no more room for growth.”
In 2016, while renting available classroom and office spaces at nearby Satit Bilingual School, GIS is raising funds and has begun the first phase of construction on a larger campus. This will allow education of more students, and therefore keep more Christian worker’s families on their fields of service.