8 September 2017
I recently discovered that a former boarder of mine is now a member of the MLA in Canberra. She was a bright, funny, capable young woman who at the age of thirty has recently made the leap to politics. There can be a misconception that boarding is detrimental to future professional and personal development, but in reality, the opposite is true. This girl was Dux of her school, in addition to being a delightful person with a strong social conscience.
Boarders become independent at quite a young age; they usually develop great confidence plus many boarding schools offer academic support. Having been a Head of Boarding for many years I have watched with interest the paths boarders in our care have taken. I became fairly fearless at a young age because I was also a practising artist organising exhibitions for myself and I needed to become confident, organised and self-sufficient. Being self-sufficient was essential because nobody other than me was prepared to fund my ventures! This was the profession I had chosen and nothing was going to get in the way; gender was a non-issue and this resilience is something I hope to encourage in others.
Boarders I have known have gone on to do the following. Some have worked in the rural industry and many have combined careers with parenthood. There are nurses, midwives, journalists, teachers, chefs and a variety of hospitality workers, travel consultants, cultural workers, dentists, personal trainers, managers, administrators and paramedics. Others I am aware of include an associate professor, an actuary, lawyers, doctors, scientists, an apiarist, vets, retail workers, pilots including an airline pilot and at least one politician that I now know of.
I believe that boarding increases confidence, invincibility and enhances life journeys; some former boarders have even become boarding supervisors. There are women who are highly successful people without being academics, and some have discovered their calling a bit later on. The mother of a boarder who arrived at Glennie as a disengaged and bored Year 9 girl some years ago recently wrote to let me know how well her daughter was doing, and how she had benefited from the whole Glennie experience. Both mother and daughter have stated that this was a great, if temporarily unpopular decision.
There was a wonderful girl at my last school who found academic studies challenging, but her parents had sent her to boarding school because they wanted something better for her than being in a very small town with limited opportunities. She worked in retail to support herself following Year 12; she was sensible with her money and funded her own dreams. I maintained contact with this girl and her proud parents. A trucking license was her aim, and she found a good job in mining, driving heavy transport. I consider her a great success story as she, like the now politician, was confident and driven. They are empowered women with a strong sense of self-worth.
Mrs Val Lovell
Head of Boarding