2020 marked the beginning of a new decade but with this exciting milestone came new and old challenges for regional communities. Some familiar, such as drought and bushfire, and others new, COVID-19, remote learning and social distancing.
The Scots School Albury has been facing these adversities together with its students and their families.
Head of Boarding, Mr Neale Poole says, “Our boarding community is a place where our students feel a strong sense of belonging. Maintaining a close connection with where they come from is also something we strongly promote.”
Support is a key pillar of boarding culture
Boarding students and their families throughout Australia have been impacted by drought as well as bushfire within the past 12 months. Life events such as these have ongoing impacts in a range of different ways and support is vital for students.
Its important for the boarding environment to provide strong support onsite with specialised staff such as counsellors, psychologists and nurses. Workshops from local mental health services can also be helpful when supporting those affected.
Year 10 student Lana Martin speaks about the support she feels from the Scots boarding environment.
“The boarding staff check in with us and our family often to make sure we are all travelling okay, and they are always asking if there is anything further they can do to support us.
“They’re very aware of our individual issues. We feel like the staff and our friends in boarding are behind us whatever is going on in our lives, good or bad. It’s a great feeling”.
To thrive, students need to adapt and be agile in their thinking
New experiences and challenges present regularly inside and outside the classroom. These situations allow students to develop their skills and resilience. Students’ ability to adapt was crucial earlier this year when facing the challenges of COVID-19. Boarding students returned home to their families and commenced online learning.
Mitchell Russell, a Year 10 student says, “Scots provided a well laid out way to continue to access schooling. With well organised and constantly adapting classes, we are able keep learning.
“No generations before have gone through what we are battling today. We will come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever”.
Clear, open communication is an important way to remain connected
Being able to speak with students, parents and teachers is important in the education and wellbeing aspects of a boarding environment. The Head of Boarding acts as a leadership figure for each boarding student and liaises with key staff members such as section leaders, learning mentors, teachers and wellbeing staff to share information and offer further support to students and their families when the need arises.
Communication between boarders is also a big part of day to day life in the Boarding House. It is encouraged that boarding students establish strong connections with one another and stay in touch with each other over school holidays and during times apart. The boarding environment often creates lifelong friendships.
Bradley Luff, Year 12, explains what it’s mean to him.
“In my experience boarding at Scots, I have learnt to take many steps towards maturity. I’ve become aware that both my teachers and friends want me to achieve academically, athletically and socially.
“Healthy communication between boarders provides an opportunity to share what you believe in and learn what others feel is right, helping to grow a better appreciation for your peers.”
Opportunity to grow and build resilience
Even though it has been a difficult start to the year for many regional communities and families, it has been an opportunity to grow and a chance to build resilience. This time has also highlighted the benefit of communities coming together to achieve common goals and the advantage of having a community surrounding you.