Bourofaye Christian School aims to offer a home-from-home for the children of missionaries in west Africa. The school’s dorm parents are a vital part of that; instrumental in helping the students feel welcome and settled. So what exactly does a dorm parent do? Rachel talks us through a typical day:
“My day starts early, tackling the mountain of laundry 13 active teenagers create. My husband and I are dorm parents for ten 11-14 year old boys and three girls, and there’s always lots to do to look after them. At 6.45, we wake the students up, in plenty of time for them to get to breakfast and do their duties. There’s a rota for setting the tables, washing up and all sorts of other things, and all of them take turns.
“Next, we’ll double-check the kids have done their homework, before we have devotionals together. We’ll read the Bible, talk, pray and worship, or even play a game. There are two devotional times in the day – a short one in the morning and a longer one in the evening. I really enjoy the spiritual aspect of my job.
“At the weekend, we’ll often head to the beach or do something else fun now, but on weekdays, it’s off to classes! Each year group has a different timetable, so there’s some work to be done in making sure everyone has the right books and kit. After a bit of a scramble, the kids disappear and it suddenly gets quiet!
“It can feel a bit strange having this time free while the rest of the school is busy, but we can easily use the time fruitfully. This is our chance to plan and prepare, to touch base with our dorm helpers, or just to rest. Dorm parents often have other responsibilities during the day, too: maybe covering a few lessons, or even some maintenance work.
“Everyone comes together again for lunch. The kids move tables for different meals, which means we get to know lots of them, not just the members of our dorm, which I appreciate. When they’ve eaten, the kids take a siesta. There’s time to check in with the students – if anyone’s had a really bad morning, it’s good to talk now – before afternoon lessons start.
This is the life of a dorm parent. It’s full-on but I wouldn’t change any of this for the world!”
“When the teachers have done their work for the day, the dorm parents take over. There are practical things to do, like making sure everyone gets a snack and takes a shower, a number of clubs run at this point, and the kids often take the opportunity to get some screen time as well. But of course, there’s homework to be done first!
“It’s valuable pastoral time, too. The dorm parent’s role is largely pastoral – getting to know the children and helping them through difficulties – and the break after classes is useful for catching up with anyone who’s struggling at all.
“After dinner, there’s more time for the children to relax or finish their homework, then it’s devotionals before lights out. But that’s not the end of the day for me! There’s still planning and prep to be done before we meet as a team to pray. Each member of staff has a prayer partner and a fellowship group, too, which offer hugely valuable support, and these usually meet in the evenings. Finally, I lock up the building before I head to bed.
“And there you have it. This is the life of a dorm parent. It’s fairly full-on but I really enjoy the complete mix of things you get to do. You get deeply involved in the kids’ lives, invest in them and make a difference. And you can make the role your own, depending on your own personality and gifts. I wouldn’t change any of this for the world!”
Picture: BCS school kitchen