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 The Next Chapter
Retirees reflect on their time at FIS
June is a month for celebration at FIS. Grade 12 students cross the stage at graduation, our younger students prepare to take the next step
in their learning journey, and the community as a whole reflects on the successes of the school year. But this June there’s further cause to celebrate as a group of long-time FIS colleagues transition into a new phase of their lives: retirement.
Although this year’s group of retirees is one of the smallest in recent history, their years served at FIS, as well the impact they made while at school, is significant. In their respective roles as school counselor, choir director, and Upper School English teacher, they supported students and their families, instilled the joy of learning and making music – and made lasting memories along the way.
“I loved my job being the Elementary School Counselor from 2004 to 2023,” said Sabrina Mercer. “What an incredible opportunity and experience
to support the FIS student community in different aspects of their social and emotional wellness as they all represent the hope for the future in our world today. I always felt I was working in a microcosm of the United Nations and was always proud to be a staff member at FIS.”
“I miss FIS and the energy and vibrant ambiance of my classroom.” – Gabriela Sassu
In addition to enjoying “the diversity of our students and faculty,” music – and all of the ways in which it brings joy – has been the highlight for Upper School Music and Choir teacher Debra Damron.“The best part of my job has been years of creating wonderful music with our fabulous students,” she said. This goes well beyond her choir room, as Ms. Damron recounts working on Grade 6-8 musicals with her partner, Sheelagh Maythem who also worked at FIS, and cantatas with the High School choir and orchestra at the Christuskirche; traveling around the world with honor choir ensembles for various AMIS (Association of Music in International Schools) choir festivals; and even selling hot chocolate and giant sugar cookies at Applefest or assembling gift boxes for orphans in Romania with her choir students. “I have also loved hearing from past
students and learning about their own creative growth.”
Gabriela Sassu’s retirement actually began earlier this year and she has had several months to reflect on her time at the school. “I miss FIS and the energy and vibrant ambiance of my classroom,” she said. “I often dream that I teach a short story or a poem to a group of enthusiastic students.”
As their new chapters begin, our retirees are looking forward to venturing out and creating newmemories.Butwherevertheygo,FISwillhold a special place in their hearts. As Ms. Sassu shared,
“One of my fondest memories of FIS was walking to school every morning by the woods and seeing the building in the distance. I knew that I was safe there, that I was heard and appreciated. I knew that I was given the unique opportunity to touch my students‘ souls and in my humble way, to shape their future.”
FIS World Staff
  Debra Damron, Upper School Music/Choir Teacher: 22 years at FIS
Words of wisdom: In the post-Covid era, try not to make ourselves crazy trying to keep up with new technology and making big changes too quickly. If something is not broken, don’t fix it – often what is working already is the best to move forward with.
Sabrina Mercer, Elementary School Counselor: 18 years at FIS
Words of wisdom: Appreciate the unique vision of FIS and embrace as much as possible the globally mobile philosophy that“the only thing constant is change.” Also, one of my favorite sayings to students: “Use your power for good.”
Gabriela Sassu, Upper School English Teacher: 13 Years at FIS
Words of wisdom: I know in my heart that my colleagues will continue to shine the light of knowledge on their students, but I grieve a bit that it won’t be me. I urge them to enjoy every moment of this amazing profession as nothing will replace the pure joy of being a teacher.
   2022/2023 FIS retirees (from top): Debra Damron, Sabrina Mercer,
Gabriela Sassu
June 2023 FIS World 23

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