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Pattaya Personality - Andy Harrison

By Kevin Cain

This month’s Pattaya Personality feature enters the world of education and focuses upon one of the leading figures in education on the Eastern Seaboard.  Andy Harrison is the Headteacher at St Andrews International School, Green Valley and has been so for the last twelve years. In teaching tenure this is quite exceptional, considering the average headteacher around the world is incumbent for just over two years.

Originally hailing from the UK, Andy spent many years in Africa and Asia, his desire to become an educator fuelled by a goal to develop the student as a whole and not just in terms of academic achievement. This was the foundation stone of what he wished to see at St Andrews. Academic results are clearly an important passport but by themselves no guarantee of success in life. Andy

believes it is the character that is developed within young people that allows this passport to be fully achieved.

The international cultures that Andy has experienced, allow him to shape a truly global education and give the students the opportunities and experiences that will help them to succeed. Without doubt, Andy has instilled his positive methods and ideology into the very core of St Andrews and many students passing through the doors of the school have benefited greatly from his leadership.

It is unusual for someone with all the responsibilities that come with such a position to have as varied and active social life as Andy. but family and sport have always been his relaxation and passion. He feels that Thailand, and this area in particular, is such an attractive location to be based - it is perfect for his whole family and offers many sporting opportunities. So with his competitive football and rugby days all but over, he is now focusing on tennis and getting his golf handicap into the lower single figures. Like many people of his age, fitness is something that has to be worked on, despite self confessed “creaking knees”, Andy enjoys riding his mountain bike and the route home from work takes him through spectacular rubber plantations, coconut groves and impressive sea views.

For those readers who love Horse Polo, Andy is a familiar figure. He can be seen at the local Thai Polo and Equestrian Club most weekends. Still active in playing the sport, due to the generosity of Harald Link and Nuntanee Tanner, Andy relishes the opportunity to umpire or commentate at the larger polo events during the year. He also feels that polo is a really captivating sport, combining a love of horses with skill and teamwork. “Hitting an object the size of a tennis ball on horseback, at speeds of up to 40km an hour takes some practice but is amazing when it all comes together”.

This year Andy has played in four tournaments, including a game against the Malaysian National Team. He has also had the privilege of commentating on the ‘FIP World Cup Qualifier’ between Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as helping out with the large Charity fund raising events Pink Polo and Beach Polo in Hua Hin.

When asking Andy if he were not involved in teaching, what he would do? His response is slightly puzzled as he has always wanted to teach, so has never really spent time dwelling on other options. After some deliberation his considered response is: “I guess I would really like to be involved in sports management or something else that involves working alongside people and helping them realise their potential.” He continues to enjoy and be excited about the developments at St Andrews Green Valley and living in Thailand generally and he does not even think about pastures new. “It would have to be something very special to drag me away from a job and place I cherish so much.”

The three teaching passions Andy has are Outdoor Education, Information Technology and Physical Education. He feels these are subjects that are sometimes undervalued and can lead to real character development and skills needed for the future. Also, although he has enjoyed the four countries he has previously lived in, he believes that Thailand is a special place to be. The diverse culture and so many enriching opportunities to experience are second to none in a constantly evolving environment. He says :“It’s a country where people get on with their lives and enjoy what they have.”     

When finally asked how he would like to be remembered as a Teacher / Headteacher? Andy replies  “I remember my favourite teacher for being the person who showed me what potential I had, how to use it and importantly to believe in myself. Therefore, if I can be remembered in the same light that would be fantastic. It’s not really important for me to be remembered as a Headteacher, I just see myself as a teacher with a few extra roles to perform.”

Without doubt Andy is a dedicated and motivated individual both in his teaching activities and leisure pursuits. It is refreshing and reassuring that such a person should be at the helm of an institution for the development and education of young minds - I’m sure all the staff, students and parents of the St Andrews community will agree.