Is there life after the Rijnlands?

When I said goodbye to the Rijnlands at the end of January 2002, I certainly wasn’t ready to start idling away the years. On the contrary, I wanted to take up a number of other activities. Also, I do not like idling motors – they are very polluting. I wanted to take up interim work as a freelancer and to coach projects in the field of international education. So I entered the wondrous world of the freelancer, which entails registration at the Chamber of Commerce, reporting to the tax office as liable for VAT, etcetera.

Looking back, I can only conclude that this was a wise decision. I have been able to accomplish many things and I have considerably widened my horizons. One of the most interesting experiences was being a temporary principal at the Kennemer Lyceum in Overveen. This is one of the oldest secondary schools in The Netherlands, with a proud history, and in that sense comparable to the Rijnlands Lyceum. Through a number of circumstances, in 2003 the school was on the verge of collapse, with a student number of only 450. My main task was to bring some tranquility to the school’s confusing situation and to boost the number of the student population. Fortunately, I managed to do so and since a few years the school has entered calmer waters. As it happens, a temporary assignment like that usually does not last longer than a year or so.

In the international circuit, too, there have been interesting missions. For instance, I was involved with founding and establishing the Amsterdam International Community School, where I was collaborating once again with our former colleague Beth Young. Since 2003, this school has witnessed an enormous growth. Besides this, I advised the founders of the International School in Breda (part of the Mencia de Mendoza establishment) and I prepared the launching of the International School Utrecht. It was remarkable to notice how shy of taking risks most school boards are when it comes to starting new and unfamiliar initiatives like this. Hence it was one of my main tasks to convince the board of the feasibility of an international department. As president of SIO (Stichting Internationaal Onderwijs) I make sure to stay well informed of developments in the Dutch International Schools.

Though I look back at my days at the Rijnlands with immense pleasure (and seeing with great joy that the school is faring very well in the hands of John Swieringa – my sincere compliments for that) it is abundantly clear that even after the Rijnlands, it’s a good life.

Ad Vaessen, April 2013