Where Are They Now?

ISPP Alumni Brian Webster
Alumni Interview: Brian Webster | Secondary Science Teacher
Years at ISPP: from 2002 to 2016

Recently, long-term teacher alumnus Mr Webster agreed to participate in our Where Are They Now? interview series. We put out a call to our current and former ISPP community via social media and asked them to submit questions they would like answered in the interview. We received many responses, so Brian has shared an update on what he’s been doing and answered many of the questions. There were a few special messages for Brian, which are also included here.

Brian Webster family 2019

Retirement and Portugal

Obviously, there are lots of questions about my retirement and what I am doing with my time. I must admit I was a bit worried about what I would do, but to be honest, it hasn’t really been a problem. The first year I retired in Cambodia was pretty easy – I did quite a lot of cover lessons at ISPP, I continued working for the IB (The International Baccalaureate) as a Sciences workshop leader, and I still refereed the staff football matches at school! I also worked with a bunch of wonderful Khmer students at school on a CAS (Creativity, activity, service) project to produce videos of scientific experiments for local Cambodian secondary state schools. Many schools don’t have easy access to equipment, so the videos highlighted material that is easy to get in Cambodia either locally or from Phnom Penh. They also have big classes, so we were picking experiments that were easier to do with large classes.

ISPP IB CAS Science Video Group

I tried to keep fit; my friend Di Atkinson, Diploma Coordinator/Counsellor at ISPP until 2008, had also retired and lived in Phnom Penh and also wanted to stay fit. We decided to do a lot of cycling and would get the ferry across the Mekong and went on some wonderful cycle rides along the Mekong banks or further inland. We also used to go running at the Cambodiana gym followed by a couple of hours relaxing by the pool – wonderful! I was also still playing five-a-side football on Friday nights with the staff football and still able to nutmeg Neil Davison and Matt Clouter at the grand old age of 64!!

Coming to Portugal was very different as I had none of my social contacts from Phnom Penh and no possibility of teaching at Claire’s school because they did not employ cover teachers. When I was teaching, I was quite digitally savvy because you have to be if you want to keep up. I became very adept at Word, Publisher, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and working with Mac and Windows machines and working with the students in the whole online Google environment. The two areas I did not get to grips with was making videos and websites. Both of these became goals of my retirement.

Videos were easy – I wanted to keep the Cambodian Secondary school videos going. The only way to do that was to film experiments at home and turn them into videos for schools. My wonderful technician at ISPP, Sophy Vann, agreed to keep doing all Khmer commentaries and translation (along with some help from Dara Pich), so I have managed to keep producing them. I then realised that the best way to keep them all together was to create a website for the videos, so there is now a Khmer/English website for teachers to access.

ISPP Science Grade 10 (2016)

I also spent time digitising old camera VHS tapes and have started to produce videos from these. Many of you will have seen the past ISPP Week Without Walls field trips to all sorts of exotic places that I uploaded to the Alumni Facebook page, as well as old Lipsync and Battle of the Band tapes. I have also been making a series of films for my children when they were young and a big one for Claire’s 60th. There is still plenty of video footage to deal with so many years of video making left!

I wanted to stay as active as possible, so I started to play tennis. I found a friend to play with each week and also a drop-in where they coached tennis. This was the first time I had ever been coached in my life, so was thoroughly enjoying playing. I also started up a five-a-side football club at Claire’s school on a Friday. My favourite comment of that era was when I played football with my son Rory at his work’s weekly five-a-side, and a colleague said to him the next day, “It’s a bit of a poor show when a 66-year-old man with a pacemaker is NOT the worst player!” I will certainly take that as a back-handed compliment. Unfortunately, at the end of 2019, I had to go to the hospital with a recurring problem with my heart, and then Covid started up in 2020, so my tennis and football playing days may be over, but I still do lots of walking.

ISPP Falcons Football

ISPP and teaching

One of the questions was, how did you know you wanted to be a teacher? A very difficult question to answer, as I mentioned in my Facebook post, but it is a decision I have never regretted. I look back with fondness on all the wonderful students I have taught over the years and hopefully the aspirations I have inspired in them. If I am going to be honest, ISPP was probably my favourite school, and I feel many of my former students have become lifelong friends, particularly through social media. Another big plus for me was the IB programme, and I fell in love with the MYP (Middle Years Programme), which is why I became MYP Coordinator. There are so many memories from ISPP that it would be impossible to list them all. Still, apart from the great teaching memories, there were also the fantastic Week Without Walls trips that I made to Ratanakiri, Laos/Cambodia (down the Mekong) and Sulawesi particularly. Also, I cannot forget the MRISA championships with the seniors, especially when we won with Ammar Kawash as my captain in the first year at ISPP and 2010 when my son Rory was captain when I was a proud father and coach! I was also incredibly lucky to finish at the new purpose-built campus, having taught at the nostalgic but rather cramped facilities on Norodom. MYP students are fortunate enough to have a great school and great campus and should never fail to reach for the stars in everything they attempt whilst at ISPP.

ISPP 2007

Lastly, I think a testimony to our connection to ISPP is the fact that ex-teachers, students and parents had visited us in Lisbon such as Jerry Thompson and Julie Shaw, Di Atkinson, Marcel Houterman, Xanthe Cobb, Dave Edson and Deirdre Roberts, Bridget Brian, Dave Pulger-Frame and Anne St. John, Chris Lahey and Nikki Petyanski, Lindsey Barlow (Brewster), Andy and Kirsten Pontius, Devi Leiper, Adrienne Yong, Louis Jones, Armando Neves (who was working here but we visited when Rory came out) and Sylvia Mueller – and if not for Covid there would have been more!

ISPP Science Department (2016)


We never regret having decided to teach abroad. Our children have had an excellent education, and they say that they feel the experience of embracing different cultures has enriched their lives, and they are grateful for that opportunity.