new principal of the Chiang Mai International School (CMIS) is a
Canadian, Terry Gamble. He is a man who initially wanted to be a
professional ice hockey player but now has as one of his aims,
“To be the best grandpa ever”!
Terry was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in
Canada, and he seemed surprised that I had actually heard of the
place. Since I had a friend who worked in Kamloops in Canada,
the name of Moose Jaw is relatively normal!
His father was a Navy veteran and his mother
worked as a public servant for the Canadian government, so
neither was a teacher to be a role model for his future
profession. (It is interesting to note that his elder sister
also became a teacher, so there is something in the Gamble
However, in his high school years he showed
that he had a natural sporting ability and so harbored this
desire to be a professional ice hockey player when he left
school, but a high school counselor, a person whom Terry
considered to be something of a mentor, pointed Terry in another
direction. “He made me think I was a person who could make a
difference in a kid’s life, as he had done with mine.”
With this in his mind, young Terry decided
that teaching should be his future direction and enrolled at the
University of Alberta in the Faculty of Education. Four years
later he emerged with his Bachelor’s degree in Education and
felt he was ready to set the schooling system on fire. He also
emerged with a wife! He met Nicki, his life’s inseparable
partner, who was doing an Arts program. They married and began
Now needing to begin his working life, Terry
took a job teaching high school in a county school. However,
like most university-trained professionals he found that
academia and reality do not always overlap. “I learned more in
one month than I learned in four years at university,” said
After two years he could sense that he needed
further experience in different levels of education and moved
into the elementary school. He then continued gaining
experience, and coincidentally moving up the teaching ladder,
rising to principal in nine years.
He acknowledges the fact that he has had many
mentors over the years who have guided him in the right
direction. He was by now quite sure that being an influence of
good in a child’s life was his calling, he began to think
outside the confines of a one-on-one teaching situation. “I
knew my path was to be a school administrator. With a classroom
teacher the scope is very narrow, but as a school administrator
you can have an influence over many teachers, who in turn can
influence more children.”
Terry Gamble was prepared to discuss his
feelings about his ability in this arena without any ‘ego’
or embarrassment. “I know this career is the place for me. I
have a gift with children and can provide them with a solid role
model,” he said. I asked him if he felt that this ‘gift’
was ‘God-given’ and he concurred, his religion obviously
being an important part in his (and Nicki’s) life.
In his career, his advancement continued,
enrolling in a Master’s program, once again through the
University of Alberta. This was a very practical application of
teaching skills and Terry appreciated the hands-on aspect of the
program. I got the feeling that he had not forgotten the lesson
that he received in his first job, where one month of hands-on
was worth more than four years of lectures!
Following his Master’s he was seconded by
the Alberta government to an assessment project to look at an
overview of the teaching programs being used in the state, and
to advise on the best curricula and changes to them. This he did
for the next four years, exerting an (unseen) influence over the
lives of thousands of children going through the Alberta
At the conclusion of the secondment it was
time for Terry and Nicki to take an overview of their own lives.
Their family had grown up, Terry did not want to return to
ordinary teaching, and they both liked the idea of travel. They
found they had friends who had been working in an international
school in Bangkok, and they suggested Terry go to the
international job fair in Iowa and talk to the Bangkok people.
Despite the Bangkok school deciding not to
attend the fair, Terry went anyway. He found that people with
his credentials were needed in the international arena and he
was given five job offers. He discussed them with Nicki over the
phone and they accepted a post with the American International
School in Cairo.
The overseas adventure now began in the year
2000 and Terry returned to classroom teaching for the next two
years. “It was back to square one again,” said Terry, “but
it was necessary for the international experience.” At the end
of his contract he was asked to extend for another two years,
but this time as the assistant principal.
Now ‘seasoned’ internationals, they
looked around for a post in SE Asia, and Thailand was on the top
of the list of preferred options. Being internet experienced,
Terry began looking via the ‘net and found CMIS. He came for
an interview in January and could see that this was a placement
that fitted in with his own personal mores. And so he is here!
The once ice hockey player is still very
involved in exercise, be that baseball, running (he’s done the
Vancouver marathon), gymnasium work or golf. He aims to remain
His professional aim is simple. “I strive
to be the best principal I can be, with a daily impact on the
school community, developing personally as an educational
Has CMIS taken a gamble with Terry? I somehow doubt it.
Welcome to Chiang Mai, Terry (and Nicki) Gamble.