After graduating from University College London, she had the offer of employment at the British Museum. She decided instead to travel overland to India and Nepal for one year and put the job on hold. Her travels included journeying by bus, cycling and even hitchhiking and the trip was life-changing and she explained that her values changed considerably during this period.
In 1979, she decided not to return to work at the Musuem in the UK, but chose to relocate with her Swiss husband to his homeland. They embarked on a new way of life and took up farming on an Alpage in the Jura, a career that would span 12 years. This was a new experience for them both which included learning how to milk cows, calving and installing electric fences as well as many other tasks. It was agreed with the farmer that they would stay during the winter months and were left with 20 cows to look after in the mountain. By the time that the spring arrived, they found themselves about to start a family!
Several years later, now with three young children, Jilli left the farm and took up some positions teaching English at Ecole-Club Migros and Wall Street Institute, as well as working with the elderly as an Aide Infirmière/Nursing Assistant in the region of Fribourg. She subsequently found a permanent teaching position at Surval in Glion which, at the time, was a finishing school. She recalls lessons were given in Etiquette, including the students having to peel bananas with a knife & fork! She also accompanied students on educational trips, including one to China.
Other work included caring for an elderly man in Villeneuve. He had been born in 1906 and was a very interesting character with many great stories and they formed a close bond. Jilli enjoyed hearing his stories of life in the Riviera region in years gone by. In 2001 the offer of teaching EFL at St. George’s came along. Initially she was mostly responsible for teaching Mexican girls who came to school to study for one year and were in the class known as Remove. They were given extra classes in English so their studies weren’t in line with the other students. Mrs Schibler has been an active member of Atalanta House and has always had a Senior School Tutor group. She has managed various after-school clubs including Green Bean, Sewing & Cookery clubs and has been a member of the School Council.
Her needlecraft skills have been invaluable and provided a vital contribution towards the success of the school shows for many years.
She is passionate and has a heart to show children how to be creative. This gives her great pleasure and she encourages the children to create and not to seek absolute perfection, but to enjoy their activities. We asked Jilli what she will miss most as she enters retirement. She started by saying what she wont miss – the 5am starts to the day, the paperwork and the administration! She will surely miss the students and colleagues. The energy and passion her colleagues have, the collaboration and the amazing help and teamwork that is always present. She has always felt part of team and confided that there is always somebody around to listen. As each year changes and the school moves forward, the basic ethos has not been removed and it is a very special place. She has appreciated the opportunities to grow and develop in herself and to unearth new skills. The chance to bring ideas and see them being fulfilled has been very rewarding and she admires the support given by the school in this regard.
She will look forward to discovering and living in a new rhythm and learning new things, maybe speaking Chinese! Time will have a different meaning and she is keen to discover what that will entail. During the two decades Jilli has been part of the school, she has seen many physical changes – obviously, the improved facilities and its various phases, plus the different management, as well as the school pond, swimming pool and some large trees no longer being part of the landscape.
In parting, Jilli offered some wise words, “Go where your destiny blows you because your destiny is where your heart is and where that is you will always do your best. “