Matthew Crudgington is part of the GES alumni. He was born in England and moved to Switzerland at age 1. He lives in Nyon with his wife, a daughter and a son, and currently works at the Global Family Business Center at IMD Business School in Lausanne. Here Matthew talks about what GES has meant to him over the years:
I attended Geneva English School for five years from 1981 to 1985. They were some of the happiest days of my time at school. 30 years later, I look back on those days very fondly for several reasons.
Friendships formed in a happy place
Because of the happy environment, I made some of my best friends at GES; people who remain great friends to this day. GES felt a very safe place for me as a child, with equal amounts of discipline, organised fun, and encouragement to try things – qualities that it has valued over time.
The staff were great and we were a tight year. In fact, as one of a core of 6 alums we still see each other quite regularly here in Geneva. For many years we would meet up at the GES annual sports day and try out luck at Beat the Goalie, and catch up with Mr Unsworth (the Headmaster back then), Mr Dalton, Mrs Power and the other staff. They seemed to genuinely care about us, as well as our development. I felt it was a very inclusive school back then and I feel it's the same way today.
Values that have lasted the test of time
I saw this when I returned to the school recently with my wife, when we were looking at schools for our daughter. GES has moved to a different site since I was there and it was great to see how things had progressed, such as the technology, but it still felt like the same GES that I had known. And what was most important for me to see was that the approach to learning and the personal touch were still very much the same.
During our most recent visit, our daughter noticed the music notes on the wall near the entrance. There's a picture of every child in each music note and the message: 'We're individual notes, together we're a symphony'. That sums up GES in so many ways for me.
A positive place for learning
I have great memories of my time at GES. I'm not what you'd call an 'academic', however I strongly feel that learning should be fun with a focus on developing your strengths and mitigating the weaknesses. We were treated as individuals, all the staff knew our names, and they focused on us a lot as our learning developed at different paces.
Politeness and respect for others was important and there was a happy and positive attitude to life at school. We did lots of outdoor stuff and I learnt many important values as a result of that. I think GES got it right with me.
Some of my happiest memories are playing lots of swing ball and football, lining up on the stairs when school was over with my good friend Ali-Pasha (who is still one of my closest friends today), waiting to shake Mr. Unsworth's hand and then rushing outside to play – on our imaginary motorbikes! Spelling tests on Friday morning – with the words read out by Mr. Unsworth from his office around the corner! Lots of laughter; never an unpleasant moment.
GES qualities helped me through
The next school I went to was a disaster; no discipline and no community spirit. My grades fell and I lost interest in sports. I stayed there for just two years before going to boarding school in England and I think GES played a part in my success there. GES had helped me to develop my self-belief, discipline and a sense of humour, and those were qualities that were important then and remain important today.
What I can say that GES definitely gave me, is a network of friends and memories I will treasure forever.