Sanaa International School opened in September 1971 with four students and grew to over 200 within a few years. The school's early history is related to the founder's first assignment in Yemen. In 1966-67, Mr. James E. Gilson was employed as principal of the Yemen-American Cooperative School in Taiz, Yemen. In May of 1967, the American community was evacuated, and the school ceased operations. Mr. Gilson, encouraged by the friendliness and hospitality of the people of Yemen, had a desire to return. In the summer of 1971, as Mr. Gilson was completing a two-year assignment as the Principal of Nairobi International School in Kenya, the civil war in Yemen finished. Missionary friends of Mr. and Mrs. Gilson, Wolfgang and Beryl Stumpf, whom Mr. Gilson met in 1959 during his time with the US Army in Eritrea, encouraged them to return to Yemen to start an international school in Sanaa.
After discussions with key people in Sanaa, it became apparent that there was a need for a school. Therefore, Mr. Gilson accepted a teaching position in Saudi Arabia, hired a teaching couple to go to Yemen, and was able to financially guarantee the first year of Sanaa International School. The school grew to about 25 students in that first year making it possible for Mr. and Mrs. Gilson and their two sons, Marcus and Kevin, to move to Yemen in July 1972.
In 1974, the school’s Advisory Board, composed of leading expatriates and Yemenis, joined by a few others in Sanaa, met and formulated the school's Articles of Organization and By-Laws. This established the school as a non-profit organization and formed a Board of Directors. Accurate accounting records have been kept throughout the school's existence. As a non-profit entity, the school has been able to receive grants, loans, and land.
As early as 1972, it was foreseen that a purpose-built facility should be constructed. After three years of discussions and meetings at many levels, the Yemen government granted the school its present 35 acres (about 14 hectares) gratis for a period of fifty years. Many individuals of the Yemen government, the American government, the United Nations, and the German government gave considerable assistance in time and influence to obtain this land that was occupied on 22 December 1976. Construction began on 1 January 1977. A formal agreement with the Yemen government was signed on 7 May 1977 that included the land grant, as well as a tax-free status for foreign employees of the school.
The building program and site development included the school buildings, two water wells, one residential home, a workshop, and playground development (including a tennis court and a softball field with an outfield fence). In the fall of 1992 a new domed, carpeted auditorium/sports area was put into use, that was surrounded by large classrooms.
The educational program has progressed from the philosophy brought by the first teachers to a structured performance-based model first implemented in the fall of 1987 in the secondary section. By the autumn of 1989, the entire school was performance-based. Formal accreditation was granted by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools on 24 April 1987.
War in Yemen
Due to the presence of Al-Qaida in parts of Yemen that put our foreign staff in danger of kidnapping, the school was closed after the 2014-15 school year.
It is sad to report that on 29 December 2015 during another civil war, a bomb from a neighboring country was dropped during the evening that destroyed the domed building. Thankfully, no one was in the building at the time. Requests seeking financial compensation for damages have not been recognized nor answered.
Quality Schools International has a recent history. In 1991, the political structure of the world began a rapid transition. Great changes took place in the former USSR and in areas formerly under its sphere of influence. Combining this recent history with experience in the school restructuring process leading to higher success in schools, QSI was launched.
Mr. H. Duane Root, Chairman of the QSI Board of Directors, and Mr. James E. Gilson, President of QSI, co-founded Quality Schools International as a non-profit, educational organization, with a view to offering opportunities in education for expatriates in new countries.
In May of 1991, Mr. Gilson traveled to Albania to have a look at a country just emerging from over 45 years of dictatorial rule. During his time there, he met some key people in the Tirana community and made a decision to begin Tirana International School. This expansion has resulted today in an organization offering excellence in education with 35 schools in 29 different countries on five continents.
QSI Headquarters is in Malta. The QSI President (as of 1 July 2021), Jerry Scott, lives in Malta and manages headquarters. This is also the location for the Personnel, Finance, School Operations, Information & Communications, Curriculum & Resources, and Technology departments of QSI. The QSI Vice-President, Dr. Karen Hall, also lives in Malta.
QSI Regional Supervisors are located in regional locations. These six Regional Supervisors provide guidance and support to designated QSI schools.
It is an exciting time to be in the world and to be involved in education! QSI looks forward to providing excellence in education for international children living in many countries and to providing career opportunities for caring and competent educators.
Timeline of QSI Schools
North Macedonia, Skopje
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sarajevo
Venezuela, El Tigre