How would you describe Helmy V’s relationships with the teachers?
I’d say it was disastrously bad. He was so bad that closure of the school was a possibility in 2009.
Can you give us an example of his handiwork?
There was one female teacher from Kuningan who was working on a casual basis. Cam had requested her to do cover to help out. As much as Luke Preece and Matthew France have attacked Cameron and slandered his name, he was absolutely crucial to stopping the collapse of Kelapa Gading in 2009. In contrast, Ashley Platts, who had supposedly trained Helmy V., did nothing I could see to help.
Anyway, this female teacher remarked to me one day when Helmy was running it, “This school is just complete chaos.” She was absolutely right. TBI likes to rubbish EF, but I doubt any EF in Jakarta was as badly run as Helmy’s TBI. The schedule was often wrong, classes had no teachers or some days Helmy would just go home and dump his classes on the new Indonesian teacher, F****, and she would have two classes in one room on different books. Organizationally, it was a complete and total nightmare. And the expat teachers just loathed him.
For example, after a few weeks working for Helmy, M**** threw in the towel. Now Mark was a lazy, unqualified teacher without a TEFL certificate or a degree and his kids classes were riotous, but even so, it’s a problem in a small school when an expat teacher just gets fed up and storms out. The other teacher, C*****, who had generated 40 official student complaints in a year also hated Helmy and ended up contacting legal advice to see how he could get back at Helmy and TBI for dismissing him.
How did things change after you were appointed as Helmy’s Academic Team Leader?
Like the Bekasi teacher who was promoted to that role, I found being the Academic Team Leader of a corrupt and incompetent school manager a horrible job. It was at this time I started communicating more with Nissa, the Office Supervisor, and I became aware of how completely and utterly Helmy was ruining the school. Within two months, TBI Kelapa Gading had lost 40% of its students. I then received a petition from the class Fullerton, a GE class I had formerly taught, which said that Mr C***** was so bad that the entire class would resign if they didn’t get a new teacher.
There were more parents who had issued ultimatums that they would leave unless Mr C****** wasn’t replaced by a certain deadline or if the Native Speaker component wasn’t increased. It was only at this time that I realized that TBI Kelapa Gading was in danger of collapsing totally. C**** needed to go because of his 40 student complaints lodged on his file, but there was no one to replace him.
In that time you, Cam, helped me to use a few Kuningan teachers on a part-time basis. If you hadn’t arranged that, more students would have left and the school might have become the next TBI Cengkareng and sunk below 100 students and possibly folded. It makes me mad to hear that Luke, who promoted you to be school manager of two schools, now goes around telling new recruits we are crazy. The truth is that if you hadn’t intervened and offered support to Kelapa Gading in 2009, things would have been even worse. How many Native Speakers did Ashley Platts find? None. How many times did he call up or visit to see how his Combo class program was going? None. How many times did he come out to coach his ‘trainee’, Helmy, an alleged thief he and Retty had suggested for the job? Not even once. He merely tagged along at an audit once.
Yet the thing to remember with TBI is that there is no loyalty for good service. You can double student numbers, boost profits, improve student satisfaction and none of it matters. In the end, all that matters is whether Luke, Ashley and Mariam are feeling vengeful towards you this week, as dozens of former employees have found. But ask anyone who was in Kelapa Gading in 2009 how Ashley Platt’s trainee, Helmy V, worked out. It was a true ESL farce.