Embark on a voyage of learning

Who is Mr. Veale?

An interview with our new Secondary Principal, by our ISH students. 

Deepdive with us into the world of leadership, Mr Veale’s international background and some great advice for coping with the lockdown as well as some thoughts for 12th graders...

Where do you come from and where did you grow up?

That’s an interesting question...because it’s not so typically as it used to be. I’m from Canada and was born in the province of British Columbia, which is on the pacific coast, on the west coast, of Canada, and I’m from Vancouver. Hence the make believe onesie! I lived in Canada until 1998 and then I left and lived abroad for almost 22 years in about seven different countries.

So to ask where I'm from, those answers always change a little bit. If you asked me in 1998 I’d say well I’m Canadian, asking me now I’m actually Canadian and Danish, because one of the countries I lived in was Denmark and I lived there for eight years so I took up Danish citizenship while I was there. So the answer changes a little bit due that reason, but also because I’ve lived outside of Canada half of my life.

Is there a reason why you have moved around a lot? Is it curiosity?

Bit of curiosity, I’ve always had an interest in seeing the world. Before I became a principal, I was a high school IB History and Geography teacher. I love maps, demography and population studies...things like that. So, living in different countries has given me the chance to see things first hand that I’ve read and taught about. I have a natural interest in travel and meeting people from different worlds and seeing how life can be different in different places. It’s all good in different ways.

Tim and his wife, Lizette, had two weddings together: first, in Pakistan, and second in Denmark.

Is there any specific reason why you chose Hamburg as your next destination?

Yeah, so this has been a perfect fit for my family and I. Specifically we came here, of course, because of my job. I was really attracted to the fact that it’s an excellent school in a great city. I’ve been here many times before and when I lived in Denmark, I lived about three hours away from here so it was a short trip to come here and visit.

So, I’ve been here many times, I know the city and I love it; Germany’s a great country. Also, because of the location, since my wife is from Denmark, her hometown is a two and a half hour drive from here. So this in many ways feels like coming home for us.

Have you encountered anything in Hamburg that has stood out to you from the rest of the other countries you have visited?

Let me think about that...well I’m still getting to know this place to be honest. I knew it from the time I lived in Denmark - by the way I ran the Hamburg marathon. So, I saw the city by foot quite well but now that we’re living here in a pandemic and there’s all the restrictions on the travel, I’m not seeing as much as I would like but I know that will come. So I’m still getting to know Hamburg as a resident.

Is there anything specific that you like about ISH since your time here?

The community is what stands out to me - the community of the students, the community of teachers, the community of parents. There’s a lot of good people here, this is a very good school. Students are really engaged in their learning and have a strong community. The teachers are the same. We have great teachers who work hard and want to see our students succeed. That makes me feel proud to be part of that group and those two things wouldn’t exist without support from great parents and families. So for me it's the community that stands out the most.

Coming to your career as a principal, have there been any challenges leading a school?

There’ve been lots of challenges! So, I’ve been principal at different schools and the challenges are different everywhere. It might partly have to do with the location, the period of time, the year it is, what’s going on in the world at that point. One of the challenges for anybody who’s becoming a leader in their profession is that it takes time at the beginning of their career to learn what works and what doesn’t - as a leader it takes time to grow into that position. But for anybody who’s early in their career, the more you reflect on your challenges and learn from them, the person only gets better and that’s from my experience.

Tim taking a PhD at Purdue University (Indiana), where the first person to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, also attended university and is commemorated with a statue on its campus.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to go into a leadership position?

I would encourage anybody in that situation to consider the different ways there are to lead. I remember when I was finishing high school; I had a perception of what it meant to be a leader that wasn’t very accurate. Now I can look back and see that, I thought there was a certain kind of person who is a leader and there’s certain kind of people who aren’t leaders and I found that was completely wrong. Leadership comes in many different frames, many different packages and as long as that person is influencing others - they’re a leader. As a person who wants to bring change into their community, small or large, as long as they can find ways to influence the behavior of others, like get others to make the right choices, they’re a leader. There are so many tools out there to influence people to make better decisions and leadership isn’t about popularity, it can be in one definition but there are many different definitions. There hasn’t ever been a universal definition for leadership and I like that there isn’t a single definition.

Do you have a motto you live your life according to, as a school principal and as traveller?

If others can do it, then why can’t I?

Tim following Orcas off the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Do you have any advice for how students could cope with a lockdown?

We’re getting the sense right now that vaccines are going to be delivered soon and everything’s going to be ok but I have concerns about that. I imagine there’s going to be a lot of vaccine politics taking over the news soon and it’s not going to be as easy of a transition back to what was normal life as we think. My advice for students to cope with a lockdown is to be easy on themselves and be easy on others. Show understanding to others even if you think they really don’t deserve it. We need a larger dose of understanding going around, people are pretty hard on each other, especially online. If we learn to be better to others I think we can learn to be better to ourselves. What I sometimes find is that when people are accusing others of being a certain way, being critical, with careful reflection they might often find that they’re guilty of the same thing. People just need to be a little more understanding and if there's a little more understanding then I think people will cope better. Focusing on breathing when times get stressful, simple but powerful. Exercise is also very important, get the heart rate up and blood flowing. Breathing, exercise and taking it easy. Show some kindness to ourselves and each other.

Do you have any words to the graduating class of 2021 since this year has obviously not been what they were expecting?

If I remember correctly, I calculated the other day that the average person who lives for 90 years has 680 weekends in their lifetime. That’s 4680 Fridays and that’s crazy. It’s a lot of Fridays and Saturdays but what if you had 4680 dollars, think how quickly you could spend that. It’s not a lot and we have that amount of time to get our job done. What’s our job? Students in grade 12 have even less time, they have about 36 weekends in this school year. It goes fast, so we seniors have to get the job done and the question is what's the job. There are many answers to this, IB may be one, but people have to decide what the job is and figure out how to do it. What I do is I plan backwards, if I know I have to get this done by that day then what do I have to do between now and then to get the job done - planning backwards. My advice for grade 12 students is to keep your eyes on the horizon, the horizon means that there are a number of weeks left, but at the same time think about the very next step that needs to be taken to get to the horizon. The truth is we know, we’ll never get to the horizon. You can walk forever and you’ll never get to the horizon but it's the effort that matters and the effort decides what direction we’re going.