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 former sports facility on nine acres. Room for 350 students. As that first campus became full to capacity, every year it became harder to accommodate new students. Continued growth from 176 students to over 500 in our first decade confirmed we are blessed abundantly by God’s gracious provision.
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. However, a few years later, a court dispute over the property ownership threatened the 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 began offering support and assistance to homeschooling families with our Extension Services.
The legal dispute and lack of space to expand to meet the needs of the community had confirmed to GIS administrators the imminent need for a larger, purpose-built campus, a Board of Trustees idea initiated in 2006.
In summer of 2016, after losing the court case, GIS vacated their campus of 17 years, to share a Thai school campus, Satit Bilingual School. This three year arrangement was a blessing as it allowed time for Grace to build on new property further south.
By 2016, 85 non-Thai and 71 Thai staff were serving 542 students—including 49 home schooled students. These students represented 37 nations whose parents were serving with 95 organizations and working in more than 12 countries in the “10-40 Window.”
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.”
By God’s provision, Grace moved into our new campus for the 2019-2020 school year. Through Grace, God has created a harvest of unity among ministries in Chiang Mai. Countless people have grown deeper in their faith and thousands of students have been taught by example to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. As a result, many people all over Asia have heard the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.