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Simon Vernon, Assistant Head (Boarding and Compliance) has recently returned from a British boarding schools exhibition in Hong Kong. While he was away, he wrote his blog on the Grovian Values he sees as instrumental in building the close community that is Woodhouse Grove Boarding; Kind & Generous.
Kind & Generous
Simon Vernon, Assistant Head (Boarding and Compliance)
I’ve arrived in Hong Kong! My watch reads 0153 as it’s still on UK time but as it is 0953 here, the hustle and bustle of city life is well under way. Of course I didn’t stand a chance of getting into my hotel room early but the concierge (Maximilian from Munich) has already extended the olive branch of kindness to me as he stored my luggage, gave me the wifi password, requested some bedroom preparation urgency and pointed me in the direction of the coffee house on the ground floor. Wifi connects, emails are scanned through and the alert sounds as my turn is fast approaching for the Staff Blog.
Since James Lockwood’s arrival and the promotion of “The Grovian Values” it was the values of “Kind & Generous” that resonated so strongly with me when I think about Woodhouse Grove. I have had a very fortunate teaching career so far. I enjoyed my 14 years spent as a Director of Sport but it is my 33 year association with boarding that has inspired me to reflect upon my experiences of kindness and generosity through the eyes of a Housemaster.
Our boarding pupils’ parents exemplify the Grovian values of kindness and generosity. Within our boarding community we have multi-cultural children whose homes might be on the other side of the planet, dotted throughout the UK or closer by on the outskirts of Ilkley. What do they all have in common? A sense of importance to giving their children every possible opportunity to get involved with everything this fantastic school has to offer. Parents have their own personal reasons to take advantage of our boarding environment. But the selfless act of financing and accepting that their children can live among our boarding community is one that is fuelled by kindness and generosity as they put their children first.
Our teachers who live within the boarding community are in a privileged position. Parents have entrusted to us their most treasured “possession”. Like all communities we have rules and routines to live by and plenty on offer to entertain (worthwhile following us on Twitter @WGSBoarding) but my fundamental belief is that I want every boarder to be happy, safe and looked after while in our care. Our boarding staff regularly demonstrate the values of kindness and generosity as they work tirelessly to provide a home from home environment here at WGS. At times we see the best and worst of your children. But by getting to fully know every individual we understand how to cater for their needs and how to challenge them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. This doesn’t happen by luck, instead, it is the generous time invested in every child and the staff’s kindness when dealing with our teenagers that influences the successful outcomes of so many well balanced and fully rounded boarders.
Boarders rub shoulders with one another every day. Our boarding community is 85 pupils strong and stretches from Year 7 to Year 13. The bedrock of our community is kindness. As new boarders representing a multitude of nationalities arrive in September, I often witness how established boarders accept, guide and quickly cement friendships with them. The community is generous with their time for one another; generous with ability to accept each other’s differences and generous with their ability to relate across the year groups and houses at Woodhouse Grove. The greatest enjoyment I get is when, at the end of an evening, a group of boarders will join me on the sofas to chat away. I look around me and see Year 7’s mixing with Year 12’s, boys chatting with girls and those with English in its infancy being encouraged to join in with conversations with the boy who has boarded with us for the last 8 years.
So, a few days after I started this blog I am sitting in the hotel dining room and I am feeling proud of our boarding community. An Old Grovian has helped me the past couple of days with the Expos and I have met a number of current boarders’ parents through my WGS parent evenings abroad. What is clear to me is that the Grovian values of kindness and generosity are evident not only in our current boarders but are important values that boarders take with them beyond their time at Woodhouse Grove. Roy, the Old Grovian, has been generous with his time and kindness. He gained nothing from giving up 2 days to help me but I watched in awe as he spoke passionately about The Grove to prospective parents. It’s lovely to witness the impact that we have on our boarders. To me Roy exemplifies the rounded, kind, mature, generous adults we have played a role in preparing as they set out into the big wide world.