• Media

Welcome to our who is series ... 

eh 1983 copy


"Ms. Hetebrij, at school we know you as a passionate biology teacher and one of our committed diploma program supervisors. What led you to studying biology and into an international school … 

I always wanted to become a veterinarian, I love animals and when I  grew up my parents lived across a vet. I visited often and even observed during surgeries. In my final year of high school, I got anxious about the ‘numerus fixus’, selecting students for the study of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht, The Netherlands. After attending open days and talking to various people I realized studying biology is looking into the fundamentals of life, giving me a holistic perspective. Within biology there are so many directions to take. I decided for the specialization Zoology, with an extension into the medical field.




After I received my Masters, I struggled with the question what am I and what can I do. I decided to start a PhD in Utrecht, as I thought that was what you were supposed to do; become a scientist. After one year I realized it was not something for me, or at least the department I was part of was not what I expected; it was isolated and I felt lonely. As I am a very committed person it was a difficult decision to stop. While I tried to find out what other things I enjoy, I worked as a secretary at the Leiden University Medical Center. Both my parents are teachers and I guess I am more like them than I thought. I signed up for a master study in Education at Leiden University and I loved it. My first teaching position was at a Mavo in Den Haag.




It was difficult, but a valuable and great learning experience. When my boyfriend (now husband) got a position at the University of Los Angeles, California, in 2007, we decided to start that adventure. Ultimately, we stayed for 4.5 years and I worked at a private high school (Campbell Hall School) in North Hollywood. It was an amazing experience. In 2011 we moved to Germany and I worked at a small international school in Mannheim. That was not the best fit for me, coming from this great, prestige school in LA. I took a year off and got the opportunity to work at Frankfurt International School or IS Hilversum in 2013. ISH felt very good, and because we have a house in Kootwijk, I decided to move back to The Netherlands, even though my husband still works and lives in Tübingen, Germany. I do not know where we will live in a few years from now, therefore I decided that working and learning at an International School would be the best choice for me. Last but not least, the international community, the students, the teachers, the IB philosophy and the various fieldtrips (Ardennes, India, Cambodia, Veluwe) are aspects I would not want to have missed. 

eh cambodia 2016 1












I do not see myself working in another educational system anymore. I really enjoy sharing my interest for biology and nature with students, and guiding them in being curious, critical and open minded. In return, I learn a lot from the diverse body of students, another reason why I love the international school community.

What many of us don’t know about you is that you’ve not only competed in sprint triathlon distances but you’re also an Iron Woman. For anyone unfamiliar with iron woman distance it is: 3.86 swim, 180.25 bike ride, and a 42.20 run (a-ha, yes, that is a marathon). 

Can you tell us a little about where your passion for triathlon began and your Iron Woman achievements? 

eh 1985

I am passionate about sports. I did speed skating, gymnastics and swimming when I was young. When I started high school, my parents made me choose between track and field and competitive swimming. I just missed the nationals on the 50m breast stroke, and that made me decide to stop swimming when I was 19. Instead, I started biking on a very old road bike I got from a family member. I addition, I liked running. so I joined a triathlon club, De Zijl LGB, in Leiden.

eh bonn

eh marmotte 2005

eh 10k leiden 1999










This way I could do all three sports at the same time. I seemed to be talented and I enjoyed training and challenging my body. That is how it all started. Most people close to me thought it would be a temporary passion; life would get busier with studying and work  and I would have less time to train. In the contrary, I loved the sport and it became my life. I am not doing triathlons, I am a  triathlete. I was determined to fit triathlon into my life, balancing training with study, work and a social life. 

With several coaches teaching me I developed as an athlete and competed in sprint and Olympic distances, we biked long distance events in Ardennes and France for endurance, I ran 5, 10 km’s to gain speed.

When my husband and I lived in Los Angeles I joined the LA Tri club.It was heaven for me; a great environment to train in and the opportunity to meet passionate athletes and coaches. It was there when I decided for my first half triathlon, Pumpkinman, Nevada. I remember I ended the race with a bruised toenail, but oh well. I also competed in the Silverman half distance in Nevada, the LA triathlon olympic distance and I decided to run the LA marathon in 2011, just before we left for Germany. After 15 years of triathlons I thought I was ready and mentally prepared for the full distance. In 2012 I took the next step and challenged myself for a full distance, the Ironman Cozumel in Mexico, December 2012. I did my second Ironman in Zurich, 2014.

eh im zurich

In Europe I have participated multiple times in the triathlon of Bonn, a nice ‘in-between’ distance (3.8-60-15). Every year I race, either my own races (half distance triathlons, half or full marathon) or as part of a team.

As member of Aquapoldro in Apeldoorn we compete in short distance national division races.  Racing with a team is very valuable and challenges you to do your best. Triathlon is a very individual sports, I therefore enjoy the team races very much. I would really like to race another Ironman, I am thinking of Klagenfurt, Austria next year. Although I am not sure if I can  balance that with my new study, as full triathlon requires serious training and planning. I did already plan a half though, for May 29th, Kraichgau 70.3 in Germany. My dream is to run an event called Marathon de Sables in the Sahara. This is pretty extreme, so I am considering signing up for the half distance on Fuerteventura first, September 2022. This is a 4-day event where you run 120km in 3 days across rough, remote, desert like terrain.

eh teamcompetition


Outside of school you’re also a certified triathlon coach and you have recently offered running training to our MYP and DP students. How lucky! What motivated you to bring a running training club to ISH?   

The past two years have not been easy for the students at ISH, due the covid-19 crisis and the lockdown. It was more difficult for them to find activities and experiences for the S&A or CAS requirements. This year, with the situation improving and the regulations loosening, I want to provide an experience for the student. I would like to share my passion with them and show what opportunities the outdoors provides. I would like to give the students the opportunity to improve their (running) fitness, balance academics with physical exercise and set an example of what is possible. In addition, I think it is part of a holistic education. In The Netherlands team sports are not an automatic part of the school curriculum, like in other countries. Often you need to find an independent sports club. I would like to lower the bar for students to go out and do sports.

eh santa monica


Aside from your enthusiasm for teaching, sport and coaching you’re also an avid adventure traveller! Can you share your top three adventure tips for and your favourite destination in Europe?

Wow, this is such a difficult question. I do not know where to start. My husband and I, both biologists, have travelled so many beautiful, exciting, remote places. What many people do not know is how beautiful the Balkan countries are.

eh albania 2015

eh micronesia 2006 copy











We have traveled in Albania,trekking the Albanian Alps twice (2015 and 2016) and it was absolutely amazing. Though, I am very afraid for the environmental changes happening in that region. Another great adventure  was  during our fieldwork trip in Micronesia, in 2006. We  travelled these beautiful islands (Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei) while collection data regarding warblers and honeyeaters.

Last but not least, I loved living in California. We camped and hiked whenever we could, exploring as many parks in the Western States. Anza Borrego desert state park, not well known, is a beautiful desert environment, especially in spring when the wildflowers bloom. But I think I love Death Valley National Park the most.

eh death valley

 eh great basin np  sajuora eh area tubingen

My favorite destination in Europe is Tübingen, because my husband lives there. We have an apartment in Hirschau. It is a beautiful area, close to the Black Forest, ideal for hiking, running and biking. Tübingen is a pleasant university town, beautifully located on the river Neckar.

Beach or mountains ...

I love the beach! Relax, swim, read, sleep. Though, our travels have often brought us to the mountains, which I started to appreciate and value. The mountains are  overwhelming, wild, remote. I have some fear of heights, but I do not want that to limit me in my adventures. Besides, most places are not as flat as the Netherlands. As much as possible we do multiple day hikes with the backpack  and tent, and camp in the wild. You are away from people, surrounded by nature and focused on only the essentials. It gives me a sense of freedom, disconnect from all daily worries, and reconnect with life. Two years ago, I hiked/ climbed the Alphubel (4206m), a mountain near Saas Fee, Switzerland with a friend. It was a challenging, but a fantastic experience. This summer, my husband and I traveled through the Spanish Pyrenees and crossed from east to west via 4x4 routes with our Toyota Landcruiser; driving, hiking and camping. The Pyrenees are wild and beautiful.


eh pyrenees 2021

 eh pyrenees2021 1 eh pyrenees 2021

If anyone was to take a sabbatical for a year, we think you would pack a lot into that year! Any ideas of how you’d fill it? 

To be honest, my husband and I have discussed about a sabbatical year. We have dreams for visiting places, like the Wakhan-corridor, a remote valley in Afghanistan. We would love to drive with our Toyota to the East, following the ancient Silk route(s). I would take the opportunity to meet up with friends, living in places like Los Angeles, Australia, Abisko (Sweden). Of course, I would take my bike and triathlon stuff and race somewhere exotic. I would love to do an Ironman in Australia. Racing for me is related to seeing new places. On the other hand, there are so many things I would like to learn. I would like to learn diving and sailing. I would love to go on a (sea) kayak adventure, exploring Canada. Other than sports, I just started with a 2-year study at the Academy of Humanities in Utrecht and I would like to put that into practice at some point, maybe as volunteer. About volunteer work, I have always had in mind I would go to Africa to help. But that can range from teaching to conservation projects to helping at wildlife sanctuaries. More closely home, I would like to work on our land, to improve the soil quality and develop a more diverse habitat, with many wildflowers and insects. Lastly, there is a pile of books waiting for me to be read.

Lastly, what advice would you give your high school self ...

eh highschool







I would like to say to my high school self to be more confident in herself. I doubted many things, except my talent for sports. I overcame my test anxiety in my final year, just in time to pass all my exams and do well. I would tell myself to indeed take Greek and Latin as was recommended to me. I thought it was a waste of time then, but now looking back I think it would have made a more holistic contribution to my education.  I would also tell myself not to read all books for English in Dutch as it was the stupidest idea ever. I should have asked for help early on, sharing my struggles for mastering the language. Luckily, I had an amazing English teacher (Ms Reiziger-I still remember her name) in my final years who supported me towards my exam."

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself and you story with us. We know you are the Ms. Reiziger to some our students at ISH and we so admire and appreciate your dedication, commitment and contribution to ISH life.