A Tribute To Angus Slesser, ISF School Director from 2005-2017
A Tribute to Angus Slesser
Our school community at ISF is still coming to terms with the immensely sad news received early during the school day on Tuesday 26th September that, following a short illness, Mr. Slesser had passed away on the previous afternoon surrounded by his wife and family.
Mr Slesser was a consummate professional, a committed and remarkable educator and accomplished leader who dedicated the last 13 years of his life to the ongoing improvement of our school for the benefit of us all, but most of all to ensure that the academic, social and cultural experiences of the students were of the very highest quality.
Graduating from the ancient University of Glasgow in 1974 with an MA (Hons) in English Literature and European History, Mr Slesser went on to serve in a number of UK and European schools, honing his skills as a highly proficient teacher of English, thereafter following the conventional career path as consecutively Head of English, Director of Studies and finally Head of Senior School at the British School of Paris. In those years Mr Slesser developed a thorough grasp and understanding of curriculum provision and whole-school management which gave him such assurance and sure-footedness in his role as Director at ISF. Two years as Principal at Aloha College Spain gave him additional experience of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, the knowledge of which enabled him to lead our school through its most ambitious development of the High School’s curriculum in its history with the introduction of the IB Diploma in 2007.
Being ultimately responsible for the successful and efficient running of a large and complex organisation like ISF occupied much of Mr Slesser’s time but such was his interest in and concern for people that he always made time to talk to students, colleagues, parents and others if there was a need; although Mr Slesser was the Director, which might have made him remote, he was actually very approachable, having the ability to put people at their ease, invariably sympathetic to the problems and concerns of members of our community, always willing to help or find solutions.
Often the door to Mr Slesser’s office was open but he would be elsewhere. Occasionally he would let slip that his favourite place was in the Kindergarten, enjoying the simple, wondrous innocence of the youngest of our students or be outside for the start of school ensuring that all was well as the children lined up.
Mr Slesser was equally concerned with the High School students and involved himself directly in coaching them for university interviews at Oxford or Cambridge or writing very detailed and wonderfully supportive references to students applying to top universities in Korea or the USA. The Graduation Ceremony was an event that Mr Slesser viewed as one of the highlights of the year and his keen eye for detail ensured that every element of it was rehearsed and checked. The pride he felt for the Graduating Class, his staff and the wider school community was clearly evident in the address that he delivered, the diplomas he presented and the solemn Celtic Blessing he pronounced at the end.
Mr Slesser’s impressive and tangible legacy to our school is formally expressed in our Mission Statement: ISF is “a provider of top quality education to a highly diverse student body…. and prepares our students for success in college.” However Mr Slesser’s legacy is so much more. A casual visitor to ISF would be struck with the secure, relaxed and caring environment provided for its students, the excellent student-teacher relationships and the respect and courtesy students quite naturally show each other, embracing cultural differences as part of a process of developing an internationalist outlook that equips them for a fulfilling life as a global citizen.
Mr Slesser, in many ways quite unassuming, appreciative of the arts, knowledgeable about seemingly everything from engineering to football and film, possessing a dry, sometimes mischievous sense of humour was our Director, colleague, mentor and friend and we have all – colleagues, students and parents – had the privilege of helping to realise his great vision for this school – ISF, a thriving, vibrant, achievement-driven and caring community.
This is for all of us a time to mourn; it is also a time to be thankful for all the memories we have of Mr Slesser and what he meant to each of us. We would like to leave you with the Irish Blessing which Mr Slesser always addressed to our graduates:
“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”