The boarding experience at Woodford House opens a world of opportunities for our girls. An invaluable part of this is the ability to deeply connect with peers who are sharing a similar experience of learning and living together in a family environment away from home.
As Director of Boarding, I feel extremely privileged to be leading an inspirational, nurturing and amazing team of boarding staff who are all passionate about making our boarding girls feel happy, safe, secure and ‘at home’.
It’s all about family, and not only the connections our girls make in the local community, but also the global opportunities available to our students. School exchanges, short stay international visiting students and welcoming international students and their families into our Woodford House whānau all add to our sense of family.
As part of an annual school exchange programme, two of our Year 10 students visit Wilderness School in Adelaide, Australia and two Wilderness School students come and stay at Woodford House, which is always a fun experience for the Year 10 students. The girls enjoy the chance to meet others from overseas; to swap notes and ideas around living and studying in a boarding school, and ultimately to make and cherish lifelong friendships.
Human connection brings complex values to our lives and relationships give us a sense of belonging in a group including:
- a sense of identity in contrast to others in a group
- an almost therapeutic support system
- a reason not to feel lonely
Year 10 students, Mackenzie Grant and Felicity Dawson were chosen to represent Woodford House in Adelaide and their time at the Wilderness school was a life experience they will never forget. Mackenzie and Felicity talk about the most memorable moments from their trip below:
“The Wilderness exchange was a very good experience which I really enjoyed. Shopping, eating in the city, going to the country and meeting new people were just some highlights. We experienced the Australian culture by going to two football games which was very entertaining. Overall, this experience has left me with new opportunities to consider, a new understanding of boarding life in another country and also Aussie friends!”
Felicity Dawson, Year 10
“The Wilderness exchange was life changing for me as I was meeting new people and making friends who live in a different country.
I went to two AFL games (Australian Rugby League) and it was amazing to see the games and experience a part of their culture. Every three weeks or so the boarders go home for the weekend because the boarding house gets closed and I went to a day girl’s house, called Mary.
I made many friends there that I still keep in contact with. Overall, the exchange was a once in a lifetime experience and if I was offered it again I would go. You make so many friends.”
Mackenzie Grant, Year 10
Isabella Hawkins and Imogen Rivaz joined us from Wilderness School earlier in Term 2. Our students welcomed them with open arms, both into boarding and the day school. The girls from Australia were with us for less than two days before they headed on down to the capital city of Wellington, for the Social Sciences trip. This is an annual event on the calendar that the whole of Year 10 look forward to and it is nice to share some of New Zealand’s culture and history with our visitors.
Isabella and Imojien were at Woodford House for three weeks which flew by and before we knew it it was time to say goodbye. Before the girls departed, some of the Nelson House boarders and I took them on a scenic trip around our beautiful Hawke’s Bay. First stop was Te Mata Peak. Gorgeously scenic and the best view of the Bay. Second stop Ocean Beach. We could not have enjoyed more spectacular weather. The girls even got their feet wet and wanted to go swimming! A lovely day was enjoyed by all, finished with an ice cream.
When I asked the two exchange students what they will remember most fondly of their time at Woodford House they talked about the people and the fact that everyone is super friendly, especially the teachers who genuinely care for the students and the subjects they are teaching them.
I would tend to agree. It is most definitely about the people at Woodford House. Collectively, across our whole school community we deeply and authentically care for our students. Our pastoral structure is comprehensive but authentic, none more so than in boarding. Each girl is unique and the focus on the ‘whole individual’ is genuine and sincere. Every girl’s wellbeing is at the heart of what we do.
These precious connections with other young human beings from around the world, will stay with our students for life. A true example of connectedness and having a sense of belonging.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brené Brown
Mrs Kelly Ives, Director of Boarding