“The folk high school is different than it was 100 years ago, because Ollerup has adjusted to society. We have to do that, and we have to see all facets of the company that is Ollerup, because we have to ensure that we can keep solving a complex task. “
As an 11-year-old, Thomas saw Ollerup’s Elite Team for the first time, and immediately said that he should join that team. From there, time passed with gymnastics, where he got the successful experiences that schooling did not deliver. He came to Ollerup in 1995, and when he subsequently had to be selected, his friend’s car stopped outside Horsens. Thomas resolutely ran into the railway station in Horsens, took the train to Svendborg and then ran from Svendborg to Ollerup, and joined the Elite team – where he even met his wife. After struggling through his bachelor’s degree in sports, Thomas became a teacher and took his teacher training in parallel with his work. Through a number of subsequent positions as a teacher and department head, combined with several educations in management, Thomas became ready for his current position as headmaster of the Gymnastikhøjskolen in Ollerup.
“I was never good at school until I found something that caught my eye. All of a sudden I was able to concentrate, but then I also discovered that you have to be able to create your own motivation. There always comes a time when you have to sit down, shut up and do your shit. When you meet the wall, you have to climb over it. It requires perseverance. ”
Thomas does not easily praise himself. However, he says that a few years ago he was nominated for an award by his staff and that he is very focused on listening, understanding complexity and involving people. These are qualities he also believes some will recognize – even if leadership is not always living up to everyone’s beliefs. It is, according to Thomas, about setting a direction for people, and when taking over a historical institution, there will always be some who do not agree with the direction in the beginning. There you have to listen, put together perspectives and to the best of your ability do what is best for the organization.
And precisely the organization is important to Thomas. His core task is to ensure that you can still go to Ollerup in 100 years, and that requires that you are able to correct and revise the course you follow. In order to create a healthy foundation for the folk high school, teachers must also feel that they can succeed – and that is a shared responsibility. The folk high school’s tradition is to put the human being at the center, while the leader’s task is to look at the human being and the matter in interaction. At the same time, it is – perhaps especially in Ollerup – the people who carry the case. So there are a number of complex, supportive mechanisms that play together when giving a few hundred young people every day the public education that Thomas really believes is an invaluable task for society.
Do you want one more quote? Then it must definitely be that we are each other’s prerequisite for success. In other words, it is not only the person, the person-bearer, who is responsible for the task of the community being solved – very few can do anything alone. If we are to succeed as an organization, we are each other’s prerequisites. ”