Over 500 girls in 17 years

Posted: 17th April 2023

Some would say being a  Houseparent in a boarding house of 60 teenage girls for 17 years is no easy feat, but I have found it an extremely rewarding one. It does come with its challenges, but I have found the positives outweigh any difficulties. As such, I am someone who has lived and breathed school life, become an integral part of the school community, and this experience is hard to forget.

For starters, you get to play a vital role in shaping the lives of these young students, providing them with guidance, support, and a safe and nurturing environment to grow and develop. You get to be a part of their lives, and in many cases, you become a second parent to them. You get to witness their growth, celebrate their success and help guide them through some of the most critical years of their lives.  As Houseparent you get to be a role model, a mentor, and a support system all at the same time.

Another positive of being a   Houseparent in a boarding house is the sense of community that you build with your fellow staff members as well as the students. You become immersed in the academic and social aspects of school life, giving you a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities that students face. You become a part of something bigger than yourself. The sense of belonging is something that is hard to replicate elsewhere. This level of involvement can lead to a deeper sense of purpose and fulfilment, as you know you are making a positive impact on the lives of others.

Fettes College is: A place to live. A place to learn. A place to grow. As Houseparent I feel I have helped the students in my boarding house embrace this fully.

Living and breathing school life also has a positive effect on your own family. It teaches your own children the value of hard work and the importance of education. They get to see first-hand the impact that their parent has on the lives of others, and it instils in them a sense of empathy and compassion that, I hope, they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

After 17 years of being absorbed in boarding house life, it can be challenging to let go of the relationships, routines, and sense of belonging that you have built up over time as well as the 24/7 nature of the job. It will not just affect me but my husband and two children, being the only home and job they have known, they will find it equally hard. For instance, after 17 years of the role and our family living in the same house and being a part of the school community, moving will be emotional and tough. It is not easy to say goodbye to the girls you have nurtured and the community that has become a part of your life, and the transition to a new chapter in your life, albeit in the same community, can be daunting.

I have relished being a house parent and it is a testament to the boarding house, school, and community that even after 17 years I will be so sad to be leaving. It has been hugely fulfilling in so many ways; it allows you to shape the lives of others, build a sense of community, and instil important values in the students and in your own family. But even in this difficulty, there is a silver lining. Moving out of the boarding house allows you to take stock of your life and your experiences. You get to reflect on the memories you have made and the impact you have had on others and to look forward to the new opportunities in my new role, Head of Wellbeing.

Categories: Blog

Scottish Representative, Sue Bruce (FTIOB)

Head of PHSE and Housemistress at Fettes College

Sue Bruce is Head of PHSE and Housemistress at Fettes College. Following graduation in a BSc Hons in Geoscience at St Andrews University, and whilst I enjoyed my degree, I went on the Brunel University to do my teacher training in...

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