The Importance of Boarding

Mark Turner

Last week I was involved in a casual conversation during which I was asked “how important is boarding to SMUS?” I was initially slightly shocked by the question because I have always, from my earliest association with SMUS, believed that everyone shared a similar view: that boarding and boarders are absolutely integral to the very core of SMUS life. “We are the beating heart,” as one boarder proudly told me.

So with time for some reflection and consideration, this is a rather better answer than the one I initially gave.

We know that with record enrolment this year (1001 students), we have our most diverse boarding community ever. 258 students, representing 30 countries and 55 nationalities. Boarding students make up 44% of the Senior School roll.

The Canadian mosaic has always celebrated strength through diversity. On this basis SMUS is much stronger for the fresh perspectives, values and skills that our boarders bring. A recent survey of leading multinational corporations and global brands indicated that cultural empathy – the ability to get along with people from all nations – was ranked the number one skill in their highly competitive recruiting programs. In short, all SMUS students have a great advantage in the fast moving, global employment market they will entering.

The rhythm and cadence of the boarding routine means that the school is busy and accessible 24/7. Much of our rich diet of extra-curricular societies, sports and activities comes from the holistic vision of education encouraged by boarders. Over the last few years, many of our top performers in all areas of school life have been boarders, who have won places at many Ivy League and other top institutions around the world. Many would say the boarding environment is perfect for developing emotional intellect and, of course, ‘Leadership through Service’. Anyone who has been associated with boarding will know it helps to foster independence, responsibility and resilience. No surprise then that for many it is the perfect stepping stone from home to university.

I believe that the concept of ‘urban boarding’ with access to the resources of Victoria and the opportunity to build meaningful lifelong friendships with day students will become increasingly popular. The old-fashioned, rural ‘full boarding’ model is declining in almost every country around the world.

So here at SMUS we remain deeply indebted to our boarders for the diversity, vitality and humanity that they generate week-in week-out for our school. Oh! and I almost forgot to mention the significant financial contribution that they make to allow our school to aim for excellence!

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Mark Turner
Mr. Mark Turner is Head of School at St. Michaels University School.

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