About Us

HIS founders, Joel and Marvel Vander Kooi, started as Peace Corps Volunteers in 2000. While serving as volunteers in Thailand, they worked within the local education system.

Joel and Marvel learned that, although children are offered a primary education, many go without because of their ethnicity and/or poverty. They do not have the funds to buy uniforms or pay even minor school fees. These families must send their sons to Buddhist Temples to be educated, and their daughters have no opportunity for education. Upon returning to the US, Joel attended law school, and Marvel taught second grade.

However, their hearts were still in Thailand, and Joel accepted a summer internship with a Christian mission in Thailand in 2004. During that summer their eyes were opened to the horrific side of poverty. They witnessed the situations of children from poor families, which often includes forced prostitution.

After seeing the plight of vulnerable children in Thailand, God gave Joel and Marvel a vision for Christian schools, to break the cycle of poverty and oppression. To achieve this vision, Hope International Schools, Inc. (HIS) was founded in January 2008. Now, HIS has begun planting schools in the developing world. The first is the School of Promise in Thailand, where the vision was born.

The School of Promise began its first school year in May 2010 with 12 students. God has continually given the school grace with the Ministry of Education and within the community.

Back to: About HIS