The Beginning

I grew up as a military dependent, traveling the world with my younger brother. Needless to say, my world was very colorful from the very beginning. My father was a sergeant in the army, serving several tours overseas and across the United States. My father was a risk taker, trend-setter, and also the source of my strength. I quickly learned how to be flexible and to be open minded.

The Journey

As I reflect on my journey, there were many times where those important skills were put to the test!

One distinct example in my childhood was at age 15, I attempted to obtain employment but of course due to my age, I was told NO. I was, of course, crushed because I really wanted to work. I remember telling that employer that on the day I turned 16, I would come back to sign my application. True to my word, I applied again, was hired, and three years later, I was employee of the month, and a well-known team leader and trainer for new staff. This series of events taught me to go after what I wanted. Persistence was my middle name!

This drive spills over into my educational journey as well. I am a strong advocate of education. Nelson Mandala once said that “Education is the only way to change the world.” This mantra shows up in every decision I make. The best way to make an impact is to be where the action is.

My strong desire to be an advocate for change led me to pursue multiple degrees. I have a B.S. degree in Psychology, M.Ed. degree in Mental Health Counseling, Ed.S. degree in School Counseling, and Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership. Each one of my degrees have afforded me the opportunity to connect with the world. Over the course of my career, I have worked in hospitals, schools, on school credentialing boards, and with non-profit organizations. I’ve collaborated with leaders on social advocacy projects, mental health wellness for children and adolescents…the list goes on. I have a world of experience, but I still want to learn more.

Why China? Why Now?

Why not China?

I believe my family and I have been preparing for this international adventure.

BASIS International School Nanjing art group

Quinnesian leading the Wellness Art group she started for the boarding students at BASIS International School Nanjing.

The choice was easy; I want to teach, guide, and most of all I want to make a difference. I truly believe that education is the key to success. Success comes in different stages. Before a child can be successful outside of school, they must first be successful in school. Children need to learn to have confidence in their abilities and their work. They also need to learn to have confidence in themselves. They need to understand that they are special, and that they are wonderful for just being themselves. As Dean of Students, I hope to influence children not only in their core curriculum, but also in their ability to solve problems, think outside the box, and to be global learners. I hope to be that role model for my children as well.

China was not originally on our radar, but what started as a simple inquiry on the BASIS International Schools website then led to a phone interview in September 2018, then a Skype interview in October, and lastly a face to face with Head of School Dr. Mark Starbuck last December. I was impressed from the very first meeting and the continued open communication through the entire process. I felt like a member of the team before getting on the first plane.

BASIS International School Nanjing Opening Day

The Joyner family with other leadership team members and families on BASIS International School Nanjing’s opening day.

What truly sealed the deal for me was the core beliefs of BASIS founders Michael and Olga Block: The goal of a great education is to provide students with choices, limitless opportunities, and to send them into colleges and professions empowered to shape their own futures. As a parent, I believe this matters. This is why I chose BASIS!

What’s Next?

We are enjoying our new home in Nanjing. It’s so beautiful and our community is really nice. My hope is that it teaches our children the same values I learned as a military dependent; the value of hard work, how to be flexible, and to ALWAYS appreciate the importance of community.

Exploring Nanjing

Since moving to Nanjing, both my children Kirsten and Jordan are learning Mandarin and they are able to help my husband and I communicate with our neighbors. We’ve connected with a few great expats and locals who have been helpful in our acclimation to China. Last fall, we vacationed in Thailand and visited several tropical islands with clear blue water. Living in Nanjing allows more opportunities to travel and it is very inexpensive from here! All of the beautiful places we dream about are much closer than ever before.

In summer 2020, both my husband and I plan to enroll in doctoral programs. It’s time to push ourselves to the next level so we can share with the world and continue to be committed advocates for progress and change in education.

There is much potential here for growth. My family and I will embrace this time as part of our new life abroad. My husband Ruben, children Kirsten and Jordan, and I will grow from here! We are BASIS International School Nanjing!



Quinnesian K. Joyner, Ed.S. is the Primary Dean of Students, and a member of the founding leadership team, at BASIS International School Nanjing.

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