Mr. Jim - Tot Ziens from a 2022 Retiree

Each year, our ASH community says “tot ziens” to staff, students and parents as they leave our community to embark upon new life adventures. We also celebrate and honor our retirees for all they have done during their time at ASH. Jim, a 2022 retiree, reflects on his ASH experience during his 39 years sharing his love for music with our middle and high school students.

How long have you been at ASH, and at what capacity?
I started here in August of 1983, when ASH was located in The Hague. I first taught part-time, then in my second year I taught middle school band. Three years later I was brought on full time and from then onwards I taught middle and high school band. In the mid-1990’s I started the IB music program at ASH and was also the Arts Director for around 10 years. There have been so many other things aside from my teaching responsibilities: founder of the ASH Disney Signature Program; leader of the annual ASH Excelsior community concert; co-founder of Extravaganza Signature Program; founder of Sashje, the ASH Jazz Band - and a participant of so many other groups and unforgettable experiences.

How does it feel to be in your final year at ASH?
It’s obvious to me that I'm certainly going to miss the students, the kids. The kids have always given me energy. I realized early on in my life that there are two things that I really liked as far as my career goes; 1) I really like music and 2) I really like working with young people, with kids. It's been a very rich reward for me. I've been very fortunate in my career that I have not needed to move on, that everything I’ve wanted has been right here (at ASH).

What are some stand out memories or moments for you during your career?
One that sticks out the most is the performance we gave (on behalf of ASH) in Rotterdam, for the 50-year anniversary of the Marshall plan. President Clinton greeted the band students personally, we went backstage and spoke with Lady Clinton personally, William Alexander (now His Royal Highness King William Alexander) was there, the prime minister of the Netherlands and mayor of Rotterdam. I had the feeling - I cant believe I'm here, talking to these people - all very gracious and thankful for what you do. That was a very rich experience.  

Are there any students or colleagues that a lasting impact on your time at ASH?
Teachers Gary and Richard were my colleagues in the arts center (in The Hague) when I first started. We could develop ideas and strategies together, working together for almost 20 years. That time had an impact on me personally and professionally; we had a mutual respect for the knowledge and expertise we had, and wanted to provide arts and music to the students with artistic vision. There have been so many students that have been to varying degrees that have gone on in music and been successful, who come back and say that I touched their lives and helped them find their way as professionals in music. I’ve been blessed with lots of amazing memories.

What will you miss the most about ASH?
I will miss the excitement of making music with kids, watching the kids progress from the time when you first put an instrument into their hands. They are trying to make a sound on it - to the time they graduate school, then off to university and playing the instrument. That first day of school next year will be a strange day, as it will be the first time in my life that I will not be taking part in the first day of school!I always had a first day of school, whether it be as a student or a teacher; that is going to be a weird moment.

What do you plan to do once you retire?
I am looking forward to developing my own investigation research and service to the international music education community. I plan to work as a consultant to schools worldwide, on how to develop their music programs. I’m also looking forward to more time for more reading and writing, a little bit more composing and more playing. I plan on spending the majority of my time in the NL, will spend some time in Norway visiting one of my daughters, and then other time in the states to see my wife and other daughter. I have nothing but positive things to say about the people at the school through all the ups and downs. I'm leaving a very good program and a very good school, and I’m very proud of that.


We have a diverse community of students, staff, and families from around the world. Each member of our community brings their own story that enriches the #ASHexperience.