As the latest academic year draws to a close, pupils – and staff – share their secrets on successfully settling in their new surroundings. We hear from Regan Schreiber, who joined Hazlegrove as Head of Boarding in September 2016 and, together with his wife Gail, is house parent to around 30 senior boys…
How have you found your first year at the school?
Exhilarating. We feel re-energized and our enthusiasm and love for teaching has been rekindled. Schools promise to create places where children can be happy. The children at Hazlegrove are not just happy but are flourishing. We have seen that a school can offer an environment where children can be both happy whilst continuing to strive for excellence.
As teachers, we have witnessed a degree of professionalism, creativity, accountability and dedication that is awe-inspiring. Each and every adult working at Hazlegrove realises and embraces the enormous responsibility to be both role models to the children and custodians of their childhood. What strikes us most, is the depth of the children’s values developed and their ability to create meaningful relationships with both children and adults.
What have you enjoyed the most?
We have enjoyed the positive energy in the school. The staff feel valued and appreciated and thrive in a school in which they feel secure and supported. During our time here, we have felt valued and part of an amazing family of like-minded staff. Children, parents and indeed the staff all need people who are deeply committed to their roles and who are constantly reminded that all we do is for the children’s well-being.
The children only have one chance to make the best of their childhood and at Hazlegrove, everyone embraces that challenge. We feel very blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to work with such special people.
Children are lovely no matter where you work. But finding a school where each and every adult is lovely, be that from the domestic staff to the Headmaster, is rare. Our own commitment and dedication to the children is fuelled by working with these talented and special individuals.
What new skills or hobbies have you picked up?
We have improved our existing skills more than picked up new ones. After having been involved in boarding for 17 years, we now find ourselves in a position where we have enhanced the way in which we care for children and our boarding staff. The school encourages (and allows) time for communication.
We have thoroughly enjoyed these opportunities to meet with all involved in boarding matters. We have learnt to listen more attentively and be more acutely aware of the needs of others – be that the children or the staff.
What did you find was the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge was rising to the expectations of the school. In our minds, Hazlegrove doesn’t accept average. This is not the place for a teacher who is happy to coast. Complacency has no place here.
The staff are a highly motivated and highly dedicated bunch and everyone, without exception, works incredibly hard. Everyone is so helpful and supportive and no-one wants to let the side down. We knew that we needed to be at our best from the word go and the school, staff and parents have been incredibly supportive of us and have helped us to settle in really well.
We are working with someone’s most precious cargo in the world – we owe it to the parents, the children, each other and ourselves to give them, the very best account of ourselves.
There is no room for idleness and mediocrity. And the collected energy of the school, if you are willing to climb aboard, will take you along a most rewarding, fulfilling and exhilarating teaching experience. We are thrilled to be on-board!
What advice would you give to someone starting at the school in the next academic year?
Give yourself time to experience the pulse of the school. Feel the energy, feel the love and feel the direction of the school’s ethos and philosophy. Allow yourself time enjoy the wonderful, rich experience that this school offers. The children are sweet, the facilities incredible, the setting is idyllic and the staff… my old school’s motto sums it up: “nec pluribus impar” – Second to None!
And once you have done all this, you need to work hard and be fully committed, knowing that everyone is working just as hard as you and that it is all for the children. After two terms, we agree whole-heartedly with our Headmaster Richard Fenwick’s belief that Hazlegrove is the best prep school in the country.
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