Being a Housemistress is the most rewarding job. It is also a masterclass in multi-tasking; parent, teacher, nurse, travel agent, counsellor, plumber, banker, electrician – to name but a few. But frankly, that is why I love it. No two days are the same, no two girls are the same and each day brings with it challenges and rewards in equal measure. Above all, it is about being privileged enough to be responsible for, even if just for a short time, the welfare of a group of wonderful, smart, funny young women and to help to guide them on this part of their journey.
The fundamental ethos of St Martin’s House is that we are a family. My seven-year-old daughter told me the other day: “Whenever someone comes for a taster day at school, the thing I tell them about me is that I have 31 big sisters.” What an amazing thing to be able to say. I am proud that she feels that way about them, that the atmosphere of family that we have fostered in our house is such that she is confident to knock on their doors to share her day with them, show them a piece of schoolwork she is proud of or just go and hang out with them (and not only because she knows they always have sweets!)
And when thinking about what to write about in relation to my job in this blog, that was my overarching thought. Not to talk about my week, because I don’t see this as just a job for which I can just list the things I do from day to day, it’s not as easy as that. I wanted to try and express this idea of family, and how, as a school, we are really getting it right in the atmosphere we are able to create for the young people in our care.
Since taking over the running of St Martin’s House in September 2018, I have quickly come to see how important this spirit of family is in a boarding environment. Myself, my husband Mike, our daughter and Bert the cat, who especially loves all the extra attention, really do view the girls we share our house with as a part of our family. The girls, who arrived as strangers to us and each other, now view us and each other in the same light. They look out for each other, love and care for each other, worry about each other and really do consider us one big family.
When thinking about the girls in my care I always hold in the back of my mind the mantra of ‘What would I want to happen if this was my daughter?’ and this is really the fundamental way I go about my job day to day. At the College we want exactly this for the pupils in our care; what we would want for our own children.
The house is no different to any other family, just a bit bigger. We share our successes, our worries. There is a lot of laughing. There is a lot of lip gloss. But mostly, there is an incredible atmosphere of friendship, support and love, and what more could you ask from your job?