1971 – PRESENT

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, and interested in their culture and history as well as the development of the young republic, had a desire to return. In 1971, after discussions with key people in Sanaa, it became apparent that there was a need for an international school. Therefore, Mr. Gilson accepted a 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 the 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 established 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 school 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 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. The building program and site development included the school buildings, two water wells, one residential home, a workshop, and playground development. In the fall of 1992, a new domed carpeted auditorium/sports area was put into use.

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. Sanaa International School continues with a dedicated and caring staff, the most important key to the school’s success.