Following an extraordinary record of service to ISH, Mr. Garry Jones, the Head of the P.E. Department, ECAP Coordinator, Athletic Director, and Chair of the NECIS Athletic Directors, has retired. Mr. Jones has been a valued colleague and a mentor to many, and has embodied the spirit of ISH over more than four decades of serving our students and the wider school community. He has been described as a man who fulfilled the IB Learner Profile long before this set of values was even imagined: reflective, balanced, a risk taker, an inquirer and a man of deeply held principles.
He has expended enormous amounts of time and effort to help build a positive and supportive school environment for staff, students and parents. He is an effective communicator and he has always supported ideas and policies that promote a strong future for ISH, and which have always moved his department and the school forward.
To look back at more than four decades of teaching at ISH, we conducted one last interview with Mr. Jones.
Garry, when did you arrive at ISH and how did you obtain a position at our school?
When I look back, my wife was probably more responsible for arranging the job as she was tirelessly pestering former Head of School Gunther Brandt until he was fed up and gave me the job (laughs). I started at ISH in 1978 as a Grade 5 class teacher and after two years, I moved into P.E. in 1980.
Where did you work before ISH?
My very first job before ISH was at a church school in Brentwood just outside of London where I taught in Junior School. However, I also had P.E. responsibilities. For the job interview, my train arrived much too late and I met the headmaster, the vicar (who had a lot to say about who was appointed) and two other candidates for lunch. While they had finished their lunch already, I was starving and couldn’t wait to grab my fork to start eating. Fortunately, I hesitated a second and started with the grace before lunch. I remember the vicar smiling, however the two other candidates did not. In the end, I am sure that this actually got me the job.
Looking back from your first years at ISH to the present, what was the school like and how has it changed?
Probably the biggest change is in the facilities. When I started we had just one tiny gym and no outdoor facilities at all. We couldn’t offer a huge after-school programme. Basketball games went until 9 o’clock in the evening and they took the whole of Saturday, simply because there was not enough space. Today we have fabulous sports facilities and it is a privilege to work here. It was great to be able to design the sports hall and everything around it.
In general the whole school facilities are much improved. A lot of people ask me, “don’t you miss the old school days?” and I usually reply, “Yes, I have great memories but would never change back to the old days”.
In the old days, there was no cafeteria and parents actually helped to prepare cooked meals. School life centred around the Aula. Even PE classes were taught in the Aula sometimes. Also, Junior School and Secondary School facilities were quite separate as they were on opposite ends of the school building.
Garry, is it true that you are one of the NECIS founding members?
Well, ISH wasn’t involved at the very beginning. We joined a year after it had been formed and ISH was the fourth school to join the NECIS group. In the early days, there were only four or five schools, and NECIS basically existed for basketball. Soccer and volleyball were added later. For the under-12 teams, we used to do a “Mix and Match” in which players of all schools were mixed and then competed against each other. Over the years, the programme was extended to include more sports and schools. Personally, I think that the experiences the students have during the tournaments is second to none. Even today, I have alumni coming back to me, saying that these sports trips were the best experiences here in school.
What will you miss most at ISH?
I will definitely miss the students and seeing them perform in sports games. I will also miss my colleagues, especially those in the P.E. department. It was great to receive so much support from them throughout the years. Things I certainly won’t miss are waiting in traffic jams, and I certainly won’t miss emails either. ISH has been a great workplace. People ask me things like “40 years in one place? Didn’t you get bored?” All I can say is that Hamburg is a great city and the vast majority of the time, I have been very happy here. I had a variety of jobs here at ISH: I was chair of NECIS, I was a member of the Board for four years and a member of the works council for four years. Also, being able to design and develop the athletic facilities here at school was a great experience. Being ECAP Coordinator in the last few years, I never thought that I would also be responsible for coordinating tap dance and ballet amongst other activities.
When looking back at my life at ISH, I am proud to have been a part of ISH for 41 and a half years and I don’t feel that I have missed out on anything.
What are your retirement plans?
Even though we have a second apartment in Wales, my wife and I are going to base ourselves here in Hamburg. We will travel for some time but there are no plans to take on another job at this stage. And if I do, it would probably be something to do with sports. I basically want to continue to enjoy life without having to stare at a laptop every day.
Garry, are there any other anecdotes that you would like to share?
We used to allow some parents to accompany us on ski trips. They stayed in different hotels but they travelled down with us. Somewhere on the way to Switzerland, they uncoupled a train carriage and the parent carriage was somewhere else and we had no idea where they had gone. On the day we were leaving, we missed the train due to snow and heavy traffic so we had to get 120 students back to Hamburg on trains where we had no reservations. That was a challenge.
The high points were watching students play in the NECIS tournaments. I have literally taken many thousands of students there and it is great to see them making new friends. One team remains in my memory: Varsity soccer. We won the tournaments quite regularly in the 1980’s and 90’s. Sascha Vietz, Martin Karg, Marc Ondruska, Bastian Dietrich, Jan Reimers and Andreas Fraatz, to name but a few of the players. That was a great team. The final, which my two sons were involved in, was great but ISH lost 1:2. I also remember one year in Antwerp in the 1980’s. We had such a great basketball programme and both our Varsity and JV teams won their tournaments.
At farewell events during the last week of school before the Christmas holiday, both students and staff had the opportunity to express their gratitude to Mr. Jones for all that he has meant to ISH over the long period of his service to the school. Students presented him with a giant farewell card, and colleagues past and present joined together to share their memories, stories and expressions of appreciation.
We wish Mr. Jones a fulfilling, healthy and happy retirement in the years ahead.