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Beard celebrates 40 years at Saltus

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Top team: Saltus deputy head Nicole Chichon, left, with head of school Deryn Lavell and long-serving teacher Jon Beard (Photograph supplied)

A fresh-faced Jon Beard landed in Bermuda aged just 24 to take up a job as head of PE at Saltus Grammar School.

He never imagined he would still be at the same school 40 years later.

Mr Beard said: “While in school, I didn’t even think about teaching, but once I got on that path, everything simply seemed right.

“From being interested when it was suggested at a school assembly when I was 17, to going to teacher training college, to university and then to teach, I didn’t give it too much thought about the hard work involved. I was enjoying it and still do.

“I can still remember my first day of teaching practice, which is amazing because I can’t remember my own name half the time, and the feeling of achievement and satisfaction at having taught a skill to a group of students that they had seemed to enjoy learning was incredible. I’m sure that is why people teach.”

Saltus Alumni Association is to celebrate Mr Beard’s “40 outstanding years of making a difference” with a dinner on June 30 at the Hamilton Princess.

Proceeds will go to the Alumni Scholarship Fund, an inaugural scholarship designed to help the children of former pupils who need assistance to attend the school.

The place that started it all was Dursley Grammar School in Gloucestershire, England. Then Mr Beard attended Madeley College of Education, a specialist PE college, and Keele University.

He later obtained a master’s degree, from the University of Leicester.

His first job was at a school in Herefordshire for two years before he arrived in Bermuda. He was head of PE at Saltus for 25 years, head of SGY for ten years, director of alumni relations for two years and has been deputy head with responsibility for advancement, for the past three years.

Mr Beard said his role in the construction of the Haygarth Gym and the Saltus Pool were among the highlights of his career.

He said: “In terms of changes that have most impacted students here? I would say that the construction of the Goose Gosling Centre was very important as it pulled the school together physically and also pulled the many departments into a closer, more cohesive unit.

“Also, the development of the Advanced Placement programme at Saltus has prepared students more completely for university education.”

Mr Beard added: “I’m fortunate in that I’ve always worked with a terrific group of students, parents and teachers. Obviously the technology in the classroom has changed. I started with a blackboard and chalk, but it doesn’t make the job easier, just different.

“The greatest changes have perhaps been moving from somewhat austere, basic buildings and environment to the bright, vibrant campus we enjoy today.

“I’ve been in the profession so long, and at one place for so long, but one thing that has not changed is that our students are still outgoing, friendly, academic and caring. I enjoy coming to work.”

Mr Beard is a trustee at the National Sports Centre, chairman of YouthNet, chairman of the Bermuda Island Games Association, a member of the Bermuda Olympic Association, and has been a member of the Bermuda Football Association Executive, coach of the Bermuda Football Association youth teams, president of the Bermuda Athletic Association, chairman of Bermuda Council for Drug Free Sport and chairman of the Bermuda Schools Sports Federation.

He said: “My parents instilled in me that if you live in a community you must be active in it. Don’t stand around moaning about something — do something about it.”

Deryn Lavell, head of Saltus, said: “In my first year here at Saltus, I couldn’t imagine a better colleague, and now friend, than Jon.

“His sense of humour, thoughtful advice and, yes, long memory, have really helped me get to know this dynamic school.

“Jon is a very respected member of the Saltus staff and the Bermuda community generally through his active involvement with so many organisations. It is a great pleasure and privilege to work with Jon.”

Football fan: Jon Beard playing in his younger days (Photograph supplied)