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James (Jamie) Johnston


Director of Sport

Mr. Johnson joined the school in 2015 with many years of teaching experience across UK, Greece, Italy, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

I am delighted to be part of the team at BIS Abu Dhabi, with my wife Anne-Marie and my twins Grace and George. I have worked as a Head of Department since the age of 26, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Since then I have become a grizzled but enthusiastic veteran of international education!

I worked in the UK before leaving for my first international school job, as AD at TASIS Hellenic School in Athens, Greece. I then moved to Nairobi where I worked for at Hillcrest School and then at Nairobi International airport! My return to teaching involved working as Head of Sport and Activities Coordinator at Greengates School in Mexico City.

I met my future wife on the plane journey across! We returned to the UK for the birth of our twins and I took on the role of Partnership Development Manager coordinating a School Sports Partnership of 38 schools. Following this, we moved to Milan, where I worked as Head of Sport and Activities and CAS Coordinator. We then moved to BIS Jakarta, where I was Director of Sport. We came to BIS Abu Dhabi from our last posting which was at Sandford International School, Addis Ababa.

I am fortunate to have been involved in various sports initially as a performer (many years ago) and now as a coach. My personal highlights as a performer include: Running against Linford Christie in the 100m. Needless to say I only saw the back of his shirt. In rugby, winning the Middlesex 7’s at Twickenham with Harlequins in 1989. Gaining my first Dan (Black Belt) Shotokan Karate in Italy. Finishing my first Marathon in a leisurely 3:45…not a great threat to the Ethiopians!

As a coach: Coaching Kenya 7’s rugby for the inaugural Safari 7’s. Winning a match on the IRB World 7s rugby circuit (as coach of Mexico v West Indies). As coach of Indonesia, beating China in the Asian 5 Nations with a team composed entirely of Indonesian nationals.

I also love to travel and to learn about new cultures and languages, although I have a feeling that Arabic may be a struggle! I am currently studying for an MA in Educational Leadership and Management at the University of Bath.

From what I have seen and know of BIS Abu Dhabi, the philosophy of learning provides a genuine foundation for the culture of the school. My first impression of the students and the staff is one of warmth, approachability and enthusiasm.

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