Pioneer Teachers


At an international school, people come and go. And that’s totally normal. Students might be with us for one, two, three years, others join in Kindergarten and stay until Graduation. The same goes for our families, some stay only a couple of years, others send all of their kids to the FIS. Teachers: some are like nomads, traveling the world. Others have been at the FIS for so long, it is hard to think of the school without them. How have they experienced being at the FIS for so many years? Are there things, moments,… they will never forget about? How have they seen the school change?

Ms. Hempel is one of those people.

“I started to work at the FIS in Haundorf, 19 and a half years ago. A combined Grade 1 and 2 with about 20 children. One half didnˋt speak German, the other half didnˋt speak English. I had an agreement (with Petra Niemczyk) to teach one hour a week and we called the subject “Host Country“. It was everything between Hänsel und Gretel, Christkindl, Maulwurf, Tulpe and Osterhase and lots of German children songs and games. After this first half year of experimenting, I decided to stay at the FIS and signed a contract. It was the best decision I made, concerning my carrier as a teacher.

The following years were the pioneer years in a cosy school environment at the no more existing Dassler Villa. The staff, not more than a handfull of teachers in the beginning was like a family. It was interesting to see the development of the FIS over 20 years from 20 something kids to more than 700, from two teachers to over 100, from a selfmade Curriculum to PYP, MYP and the IB Programme. And I was part of it, teaching German from Grade 1 to 4 and Art in the Middle School. I was always proud to be teaching  at the FIS and I considered it „my school“. I loved to teach, but I as well loved the breaks and chats with collegues, some of which became good friends over the years. Though I officially retired two years ago, I am still around to support teachers and students in the Performing Arts Department.”

Ms. Wells, who has been an Elementary School teacher at the FIS since 2005, and has fond memories of the colleagues she got to work with.

“I will never forget Mr. Lawler’s Assemblies. It was just his personality. He was a born entertainer. It was absolutely lovely to work with him. He was incredibly thrutsworthy. I also have great memories of Ms. Andrews. She retired a few years ago. I loved working with her, back then, when I was teaching Grade 2. We just got on very well. She used to sing a lot. Then I moved to Grade 5. I was thrilled when I heard there was a vacancy in that Grade. Definitely one of my highlights. I look back on those 13 years as challenging, eventful and ever-changing.

Mrs. Thomas, together with her husband, Mr. Thomas, joined in 2001 as Elementary School and German Teacher. Ms. Thomas has great memories of the staff parties and the plays she and her husband wrote together.

“I remember the first Staff Christmas Parties we had at Ms. Hempel’s house with a total of ten to twelve people and we played games. I remember a game with throwing dice and if you had a six, you could chose a present and Susanne Potrykus, our secretary then and myself and Darryn fighting over a skateboard.

I also remember the plays that my husband and I wrote – he for the Elementary School and myself for Middle and High School and everybody got involved, lent a hand and was there. One play I wrote was the “Not so Wild West Show” and the PTO ladies dressed up as cowgirls and we all had a BBQ afterwards.”

Mr. Löhnert has been with the FIS for nineteen years. Besides teaching IT, he first taught German to native speakers and also covered PE for Ms. Niemczyk during her maternity leave. Nowadays, he is IT Network Manager and teaches IT in the High School.

“I once received a complaint from a mom about my PE class. She blamed me, because her daughter’s muscles were sore after class. I honestly didn’t know what to say. Isn’t that what PE is about? I would call that a successful class, mission accomplished. But apparently, she disagreed.”

“I recall the ski trips we used to do back in the day, in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Once, the ski lift got stuck. Luckily, we weren’t on it. But it did mean that we had to walk to the top. It was a lot of fun though. All teachers would sleep in multi-bed rooms. But we didn’t mind. We were like a small family, spent so much time together. I remember those days when I would be at the school until 8 or 9 o’clock.

When Ms. Allen moved to Erlangen 14 years ago, together with her husband, Mr. Haug, she would never have thought that she would still be here after more than a decade.

“I have loved teaching at the FIS for the past 14 years. I came here thinking it would be a one and a half years adventure to travel Europe and gain some international teaching experience. Never did I plan to fall in love with my job so much that I would stay teaching Grade 1 for 13 years at the FIS! What I remember most is the small school in Herzogenaurach with a family of teachers, students and parents who had fun together and came together often. There was a supporting atmosphere with a lot of laughs. I especially remember having fun with my teaching partner, Ms. Dufresne.”

“I remember putting together an international winter performance in an adidas hall as we had no Theater in the old building. I remember traveling by bus to this place and putting on an incredible show that was festive, international and collaborative. I remember my class had to represent Africa and we had Mr. Van Leeuwen come in to teach us how to play the djembe drums. I remember the beautiful singing, dancing and fun atmosphere.”

“I also remember being on lunch duty in the basement of the school as this is where the kids ate. I remember kids always bringing up their plates and asking me “Did I eat enough?” (laughs) I also remember having to store all of the toothbrushes because the kids had to brush their teeth after they ate lunch.”

“I have definitely loved working here for the past 14 years and it has been nice to be a part of the changes. I remember bringing my first Graders to the FIS in Erlangen when it was a building site as part of our “Buildings and Structures” unit. To see how the FIS has grown over the years has been a rewarding experience for me, especially having the opportunity to see some of my little six year old students graduate. That is something unique and special. I will never forget watching Evie, Marlene, Lucy and Chloe walk across the stage to get their High School diplomas as they were in my first students to graduate at the FIS.”

These are just a couple of our “golden oldies”, and they could probably go on for ages about all the wonderful things they experience over the past years. We would like to dedicate this article to them, for their efforts and love for teaching children. Know that the FIS would not be the same without you, and we are very happy that you are part of the team, and hopefully will remain, for many years to come!

From all employees, happy birthday FIS!

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