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John Simkin

International School Toulouse - Injustice

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I've met Richard twice at E-HELP meetings in Sweden, which is enough to be able to say that Richard is so self-evidently an excellent teacher, and a very serious colleague. The threshold at IST must be extremely low if it can't accommodate a person like Richard …

Whilst I have no idea what the substantive issues are behind Richard's sudden dismissal, the whole situation seems a bit absurd. Is the management of IST so unsure of itself and so weak that it can't handle the kind of action that a teacher of Richard's integrity is likely to take?

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As a parent of two former pupils at IST, both of whom have benefitted from the excellence of Mr Jones-Nerzic's teaching, it is heartening to read the contributors' attestations of his ability as a historian and educator.

In the absence of further information leading to Mr Jones-Nerzic's dismissal, as none of the protagonists will reply to letters or e-mails, all concerned parties must continue to demand action. Firstly, for a re-instatement of this excellent teacher in order to ensure the current cohort of examination candidates are not penalized further and secondly, for a full analysis of the management regime at IST which ultimately led to such a debacle. In my opinion this will be the only means to restoring the credibility and reputation of what ought to be a truly world class International School.

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The Parents' Association of IST have been inundated with letters of support and our thanks to all who have offered constructive advice and information. We will be presenting this info to all the Parents at the school over the next few days so that there is clear visibility of the issues

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I started cooperation with Richard when he joined History classroom at Virtual School. Richard became very fast a source of inspiration for all the other members. Under Richard’s leadership two pedagogical projects had been developed and presented at History classrooms webpage; Pilgrimage and Spanish Civil War.

Later, when members from History classroom decided on E-HELP project our cooperation continued until this day.

Richard was always easy to cooperate with. Therefore it is a riddle for me why the situation at IST so rapidly turned out in this unbelievable way. My hope is that Richards knowledge and enthusiasm will bring him back to the school soon again.

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Good evening,

As a former student of Mr Jones, I would like to join rto the concerns expressed and post what I have already posted on the Student Education Forum, as another testimony of my profound respect to Mr Jones.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have stopped reading all the posts on the Student Education Forum when I have seen the following:

""History is possibly the subject where the teacher matters the least of all. Want to get a good mark? Buy the books, read the books, write notes on the books, learn the books."" I am sorry but this is bluntly ridiculous.

Nevertheless, let me present myself first so that you can understand my reactions fully. I have graduated from IST in 2006 (perhaps you know me yet by name, Evgenia Plotnikova) and have recently integrated a French "grande école", Sciences Po de Paris, which is considered to be a university of excellence in political sciences.

Looking back today to my results in IB or IGCSE, I can assert that my grades are much due to Mr Jones, his talent of teaching and the knowledge he transmitted to me and many others. I remember coming to IST as a lost 15 year old, not knowing how to make a correct essay in English, let alone pass an exam, a tough History exam, in a totally foreign language. Yet, it is precisely the way Mr Jones encouraged my work, the way he teaches, that made me the way I am today: someone with a critical spirit, with an enormous passion for history. Granted, IST has a great deal of excellent teachers and I feel deeply indebted to each of them that has made my route and that of many easier. I transmit my deepest thanks to them all. Yet without diminishing the role of any other of my teachers, I can claim today, and as I shall say to whoever will ask me, Mr Jones is and will rest the best teacher I have ever had, the teacher that knows how to motivate, to develop enthusiasm for his subject, to grade not to just give an A or B or whatever, but to transmit knowledge of your mistakes that you will learn not to repeat. I am not trying to construct what you may see today as a blunt praise, all I am trying to demonstrate is the greatness of the appreciation I have for Mr Jones and the years of History he has taught me. There are teachers that have became great ones by exprience, and then there are teachers who are excellent ones by spirit, by passion; and I believe Mr Jones has managed to unite the two.

This is precisely why the decision that has been taken by the school, altough I do not know all the details, seem to me unfounded: not only it disadvantages the students who have lost a teacher of true excellence and experience, but it is also simply humanely unfair on a person who has dedicated a great part of his life to IST and its students. It is hard for me to realise that Mr Jones may not be sitting in his class, going through once again a pile of essays and tests, or preparing a film that will just make your day not only enlightened but also simply a little bit better.

Now, just addressing th words of Ben, cite above... Well, looking at my personal experiences and here you cannot unfortunately claim more, as IB cannot offer you more than 45 points, my 7s in History HL or Maths HL, or as in all the rest of my classes has GREATLY depended on all the wonderful teachers that I have had. It is precisely in History, which as you have already understood has a very complicated syllabus in IB and a demanding scheme in IGCSE, that guidance is essential. Receiving my results, I have always felt and still feel that they are mostly due to this guidance, to the explanations you often need, to the challenging tasks you are set to understand you topics and to the corrections you receive. Particularly in History, it is only due to this forum and Mr Jones' help that I have managed to finish a solid Extended Essay and an Internal Assessment, it is thanks to Mr Jones' devotion that I, like every other class, have had special sessions on his HOLIDAYS to get prepared for the exams. So, whether you talk Maths or History, the teacher matters. Even in the area of advice, as it is thanks to Mr Jones' and Mr Wade's advice that I have kept having four High Level subjects, which has not affected my final grades. Today I realise, and one day you shall do as well, History and particularly Mr Jones' talent of teaching it, gives you interpretations and perspectives, a skill of analysis that shall serve you a long long time (and, as proved, even in a French unversity!).

I do not know whether this contribution is anywhere helpful, but its aim is to say to you all a word of encouragement, and mostly importantly to tell you, Mr Jones, thank you for the inspiration you gave and continue giving. I hope this unfortunate event will find a reasonable ending.

My best regards,

Evgenia

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Richard is one of the most inspiring teachers I have had the pleasure of meeting. His passion for the subject and dedication to his students has been evident on each occasion I have met him or corresponded with him. The materials that he developed for his students are exemplary and have been of great use to myself and colleagues on numerous occasions over the years.

It would appear that Richard has been accused of being a troublemaker by the management of IST. If it is of any use whatsoever I can provide them with plenty of evidence of him being an outstanding diplomat who has been extremely careful to protect the good name of IST and of him being committed to preventing disputes escalating.

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I first ran into Richard in a discussion on using new media to teach IB history. I asked how he managed to get through the very extensive and demanding curriculum and still manage to do interesting and innovative things with the kids. It wasn't till I met him when he was escorting a crowd of teenagers on a fireld trip to Madrid that I began to understand how he does it. Enthusiasm positively bubbles out of the guy! His dedication and flair were even more obvious "face-to-face" than they are on his excellent IST Humanities website to which I (and my IB students and colleagues) have been frequent visitors. It's quite a long time since I've met anyone quite as committed to education.

As far as I'm concerned, and educational administrator who feels their school would be a better place without someone like Richard needs to take a long leave of absence and lie down in a darkened room until he recovers.

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As soon as I learnt about Mr Jones' dismissal I was shocked beyond belief, and my first reaction was it didn't make sense. The information available to me is limited, but in my personal opinion, the reasons stated by the school are inadequate, especially when they fired one of their most influential and important assets. The following is what I wrote weeks ago concerning the situation....

To Whom It May Concern:

My time at the International School of Toulouse spanned a total of five years, covering both the IGCSE and IB examinations. During this time, Mr Jones proved himself to me as one of the biggest assets the school had to offer. The success of his students past and present is a clear indicator of his worth as a teacher, and I myself achieved the top grades in both the 2003 IGCSE and 2005 IB history exams. He brought a number of other teachers and scholars from around the world to speak to us as students, and involved us in a wide range of Internet based learning programs. He used a variety of teaching techniques, including presentations, group learning, and school trips, which is not something a lot of my other teachers could claim. His lessons and advice on how to write essays have proven invaluable to myself as I further my education at the University of Sheffield in the UK. No other teacher, in my experience at IST, offered the same level of advice, teaching and approachability as Mr Jones. The International School of Toulouse, to my knowledge, has benefited greatly from Mr Jones' humanities website and involvement in international web-based programs, receiving funding and other resources. All in all, to me Mr Jones represents not only one of the school's most competent teachers, but also a pioneer in the use of information technology and international involvement in the classroom, something the school has continuously advertised as one of it's most important characteristics.

Sincerely,

Robin Webb

As a side note, what I find even more interesting is that Mr Jones was not their first teacher involved with the unions to be removed from the school. It really makes you think.

I have posted my support on the Student Education Forum and am in the process of writing letters to the board of administrators. I feel sorry for the current students at the IST as they have (temporarily) lost an incredibly influential teacher. I feel sorry for the future students too as they may never experience what I, and so many others, took for granted. But then I also feel sorry for Mr Jones, who I personally feel could go the distance with his teaching and projects, but is now held back unjustly by the school and by court cases, but mainly by one man. Without Mr Jones I would never have achieved the grades I did, and would never have been inspired to study History at university.

The amount of support Mr Jones is receiving doesn't suprise me, and the only way I can see this getting resolved is by spreading the word, and pubicising the case.

All I can say is good luck and I'll be doing what I can to make sure this issue gets resolved.

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I met Richard Jones-Nerzic in Heerlen when attending an E-Help event as an associate. His reputation as an outstanding teacher was very much confirmed at the event.

My own students regularly look in awe at the dv work of Richard's students. The comments made on this thread by former students I can fully understand, and, as has been said before, are an eloquent testimony to his work with young people.

Having read the information here and in similar places, the IST appears to have made a foolish decision at best, and likely a malicious and/or mendacious choice.

It would be understandable for Airbus to try to reduce costs given its current state. However what seems to amount to an attack on the education of its employees' offspring is indeed the unacceptable face of capitalism. An attack today on the education of employees' offspring will only be the start of a longer process of eroding staff benefits. All Airbus employees should be concerned at this action.

The silence of Airbus, in the person of Les Albiston of IST, is an indictment of the treatment meted out to Richard. As a Trade Union representative in the UK, I would urge all members of Trade Unions associated with Airbus and IST to show that it is unacceptable to treat Trade Unionists in what appears to be this callous and cavalier way.

Dr Ed Waller

Edited by Ed Waller

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WHY DOES NOT THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF TOULOUSE ANSWER?

One part that is of concern in this conflict is a possibility to communicate. So far we have seen one version on what happened which make us all wonder - is there no real substance to the dismissal of Richard Jones-Nerzic?

Several individuals as well as groups have asked the board on IST to give any statement, proof, evidence,... to why they thought that the only possible way of dealing with Richard was to dismiss him. The accusations of copying a paper seems to us like a very poor excuse. Wouldn't it be a good idea IST to try to find some kind of dialogue with all these people? So why don't you answer our questions, emails, open letters, etc...?

Most of us has been very supportive of IST before this conflict. I personally was very impressed with the school and the ideas behind the teaching there. I also thought that our group in E-Help had a very good cooperation with the school and their representatives; Les Albiston and Richard Jones-Nerzic. Then this conflict struck us "out of the blue" and I think that we as well as parents, students, and other previous supporters of IST deserve an answer to why the school board has gone this far. Our long cooperation with Richard makes us believe that this is a mistake. We feel that maybe the board has been mislead and/or maybe somebody has some personal problems with Richard and/or...? So board of the IST - could you please give us some answers?

Edited by Anders MacGregor-Thunell

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This injustice certainly needs to be challenged. You certainly have my support for the reinstatement of this scholar.

Sally Rogow

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As an outside observer, I have just one observation.

The glowing tributes from John Simkin and Andy Walker concerning the abilities and integrity of Mr. Jones-Nerzic hold great weight with me. Combined with the protests from Mr. Jones' students, and the flimsy reason for his dismissal, it's hard to see this as anything other than an injustice.

Mr. Albiston is obliged to respond to this thread, despite what his masters recommend.

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Can I add my support for Richard? It is almost criminal to question his integrity because his commitment to his school and his students is beyond compare. Unfortunately, it doesn’t follow that justice will be done and that Richard will be reinstated with a full apology.

In the meantime, much of the outstanding work that Richard and his colleagues have done to raise the international profile of IST as a school of excellence is now under threat. I don’t suppose I’m the only one to have advised a staff room colleague against applying for a new teaching post at IST.

Best wishes, Richard. You won’t be out of a job for long.

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