Spotlight On: Boarding at Wesley
At Wesley, we offer our boarders (Years 7 to 12) a vibrant, nurturing, family-style environment. We cater for each boy’s well-being, encourage growth and uniqueness, and support them to become happy, responsible individuals. To delve further into boarding at Wesley we talked to Head of Boarding David Bourne and this year’s Captain of Boarding Ben White.
David Bourne joined Wesley in 2013. As Head of Boarding, David is an integral member of the College community, a teacher and a role model for students, particularly the 160 boarders in his care.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I have always been a people person and enjoy the social interaction with others. However, my main inspiration for becoming a teacher was my mother, who herself was a teacher. I saw firsthand her ability to have a lasting impact on others, which had a great effect on me. I believe that great teachers can significantly influence the lives of others to their benefit, and that is what I hope to achieve.
What attracted you to the role of Head of Boarding at Wesley?
I have a genuine passion for leading and mentoring young men, so that they can become the best that they can be. I grew up in regional WA and understand the challenges that boarders undertake leaving home for the first time – I am very aware that they need to feel supported and encouraged during this transition.
I have been to, and know people, from a vast array of communities which many of our boarders come from and it is the down-to-earth attitude and balanced approach to life that attracted me to the Head of Boarding role at Wesley. As Head of Boarding I endeavour to adhere to this approach and make sure that I focus on community and inclusiveness.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the Boarders at Wesley College?
I want our boarders to be safe in an environment that is based on trust and respect for others. An understanding of the College core values (Respect, Compassion, Courage and Integrity) and the ability to put these into our everyday actions is central to the creation of this environment. I want the students to understand the importance of community and know that every interaction they have with another person is an opportunity to have a positive and lasting impact. Boarders should leave Wesley College having accessed a quality and breadth of education that enables these students to become the best person they can be and this involves developing learning habits that contribute to academic success.
What do you enjoy most as Head of Boarding at Wesley?
It would have to be working with outstanding staff who are all committed to seeing our students and their families have the best experience possible whilst at Wesley. I also enjoy meeting new students and families who add so much to the fabric and spirit of the College community.
Significant highlights for me over the years are the positive changes I have witnessed in Boarding – senior students taking on mentor roles for our younger students and the greater academic success and focus from our boarders. It also gives me great pleasure to hear from past students and families who retell stories of their time at Wesley with a genuine passion for the College –testament to this is the rising numbers of boarders each year!
On a personal note, watching my own family grow up and interact within this community gives me tremendous pride.
How do you engage with the Wesley boarding community?
I regularly attend functions and Field Days in the communities where our boarding families live. It is very important to make the time to maintain strong relationships with our current and future families. I also really enjoy connecting with our past students and families. Another way we engage with communities more broadly is by undertaking community trips with our younger students to compete in sport with students in other regions. These trips often give us a chance to spend time with our current families too, who generously invite us to stay on their properties.
We have a strong Parent Support Group who meet to discuss boarding life and ways in which it can continually be improved. We also hold events at the beginning of each term to allow our families to stay connected with each other and staff members; these are great social occasions that continue to support a sense of community and generate community spirit.
Outside of school life, what are your favourite things to do?
I have a young family with my wife Shannon, and spending time with Maddison (eight), Daniel (five) and Lachlan (three) outside of work is my favourite thing to do. We like to visit the South-West, in particular Walpole, and I love fishing and the outdoors so this is a focus when term time finishes. I also work as a part-time recruiter for the West Coast Eagles and have a strong passion for AFL Football. Reading before bed is something else I enjoy, it allows me to turn off from the day-to-day business and improves my sleep.
Ben White joined Wesley in 2013 as a Year 8 boarder from Badgingarra, WA. Last year Ben was elected by his peers and school leaders to be the Captain of Boarding for 2017, a responsibility that he is incredibly proud of. After graduating from Wesley this year, Ben intends to study medicine at Curtin University.
What made your family decide for you to start boarding at Wesley?
It was actually quite out the of ordinary for me to come to Wesley as my brother, dad and grandad all attended Scotch College. However, after attending the Tour Morning at Wesley we decided as a family that the positive academic attitudes and environment here, particularly in the Boarding House, were a lot better suited to me.
What was the scariest part of becoming a boarder at Wesley?
I think it was without a doubt leaving my comfort zone. The list of changes was huge: I was leaving my parents for long periods of time, I was living with other boys 24/7 and I was dealing with an increased workload. But, the breadth of the opportunities at Wesley counteracted all of this for me.
What advice would you give to a new boarder at Wesley?
I would tell them how coming to Wesley may seem scary at first, and I have little doubt that many of them will feel homesick, but it will take no time at all until that turns around and you will see all the positives from being in a unique environment and the community spirit of boarding at Wesley.
Which member of staff at Wesley has made the most impact on you and why?
Our Head of Boarding Mr Bourne has easily had the biggest impact on me. Throughout my time here he has always supported me with any issues I’ve had and consistently encourages me to be my best. He knows how to get the best out of me. He is one of the main reasons I have been able to thrive at Wesley, take on a leadership position in my final year and apply to study medicine.
Tell us about some highlights from your time as Captain of Boarding at Wesley
How do I choose? The highlights for me include getting to know all the new students as soon as they begin their Wesley journey. Each and every one of them has their own stories that are unique and interesting. But deeper than that I know I’m helping them feel more at home by showing an inclusive spirit.
Outside of school life, what are your favourite things to do?
Easily one of my favourite things to do is to play sport, especially hockey as a lot of my mates are on the same team – it’s my favourite way to get out all my energy. I also enjoy just hanging out around the Boarding House, whether that’s watching TV, kicking the footy or having a hit of tennis.