5 questions with Rebecca Rogers, Head of Boarding

Rebecca Rogers, Head of Boarding at The McDonald College, knows how to look after young people. With a wealth of experience as a registered nurse, a childcare worker, a swimming instructor and a mother of three teenagers, Rebecca ensures that the well-being and progress of The McDonald College students are always top priorities.

Here, she talks about the highlights and challenges of her role.

What makes The McDonald College Boarding House special?

We are a small boarding house of around 45 girl and boy boarders, with a mix of full-time and casual boarders, and because of our smaller numbers, there is a family feel about us. We pride ourselves on treating each other with kindness and tolerance and we look out for each other. The McDonald College is a performance-centred school, so we have a mix of performing artists and elite tennis players among our boarders, and the support they show each other is very special. We also have both male and female supervisors, so every boarder has a great role model to turn to and look up to. 

How is The McDonald College Boarding House different to other schools’ boarding houses?

Something that makes us different from many boarding houses is that we are a co-ed boarding house. We started out as a girls-only boarding house and introduced boys in 2021. We have a unique set-up where the boys are on level one, and the girls are on levels two and three. There are co-ed spaces that require certain systems to be put in place, but the overall environment sees boys and girls socialising, studying and having a great time together. 

What are the skills that boarders learn in the boarding house?

One of the most important skills they learn is tolerance. Sometimes you might not see eye to eye, but we learn ways of living with each other even with differences. Another skill is to learn to live away from home. I’ve had many boarders who have gone to continue their ballet education in England tell me that their boarding experience helped them prepare for life after school.  And, of course, there are the very practical skills such as learning how to iron a shirt, how to sew a button, the benefits of a daily routine, time management, honesty, trust and balance between studying hard and being able to relax. 

What have been some of the highlights of your role?

It has been an absolute privilege to nurture and share the highs and the lows of all the young people in my care. When I started this role, I had no idea of the rollercoaster it would be. You’re the first one they turn to when they reach a developmental milestone or when they feel lost or struggling at school. But also when they win an important performing arts competition or a tennis tournament. As head of a boarding school, you get to see it all. I can say with certainty, though, that this has been the most rewarding role I’ve ever had in my career. Knowing that I am helping shape the lives of these young people is very fulfilling. Having great relationships with the parents and a sense of co-nurturing their kids is another highlight for me.

What are the challenges of your role and how do you deal with them?

Sharing their heartache. It may be a pet that dies at home or a grandparent. Knowing they are away from their immediate family is always tough. Mental health challenges are another one, as some young people feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Although small in numbers compared to other boarding houses, there are still a lot of very special people in my care. Having a great team of supervisors is essential, and I am very fortunate to have built one. 

As The McDonald College students navigate the ups and downs of boarding life, Rebecca’s leadership shines brightly, leading the way with empathy and kindness. With Rebecca at the helm, The McDonald College Boarding House is not just a place to live – it’s a home away from home, where every student is valued, supported and cherished.

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