Getting To Know Our Boarding Supervisors: Bertrand House


Why did you become a boarding supervisor and how long have you been one?
I have been a boarding supervisor since the start of Term 4 last year. I replaced Julie King who retired after 16 years. I retired from being a Home Economics and Art Teacher at Collie SHS in 2015. After knowing several people who had enjoyed working as a boarding supervisor, I thought it would be a fabulous job for me and I consider myself very lucky to be able to work at Santa.  I am enjoying working here very much, it is a very interesting, varied job and I am able to go home to the country every second week. I am very happy to be working with so many self-motivated and interesting girls.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a boarding supervisor?
Getting up at 5.40 am every morning at the start of winter and the late nights are not easy.

What makes you smile in the boarding house?
The kindness and friendships that form as the girls help and support each other every single day. The dedication and energy girls put into their sporting, co-curricular and school work.

What is your favourite movie?
My favourite movie is Hidden Figures.FRANCES PRESTON

Why did you become a boarding supervisor and how long have you been one?
I was packed up ready to go and live overseas and find work with an NGO as my only child had left home. One of my closest friend’s an Old Girl, Jenny Baker, rang and said “Frances I think I have found the perfect job for you.” She had received an email from the school with regard to the position of boarding supervisor.  We got together and she had printed out the job description, when I read it I said, “I think you have”.  I applied for the job, had an interview with Helen Chaffer and was offered the position. I have been here just over 8 years.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at boarding?
One of my girls who started at Santa Maria in Year 10, was barely passing an English assessment, but doing well in most of her other subjects.  This was holding her back as she wanted to get into university to study nursing.  I would work with her on assignments, but we still weren’t doing very well.  I asked my same friend Jenny Baker, who is a speech pathologist and specialises in literacy, if she could help.  Jenny would ring me when she had a cancellation; with permission from her parents, and Linda Bulloch, I would pick our student up from school and take her to the random appointments.  That year she did so well with her English and other WACE exams that Notre Dame offered her a position to study medicine.

What makes the boarding girls special?
Predominantly the girls are from country towns and many the daughters of farming families.  These girls arrive many of them coming from small strong communities with a real sense of who they are and where they come from.  They have a wonderful sense of family and a heart full of fun and laughter.  Whilst they work hard, they don’t take life too seriously and the most important thing for them in the holidays is to go home and be in their country towns or back on the farm. But don’t be fooled when it comes time to glam up they can mix it with the very best of them.  They share their clothes, makeup and everything they have to offer each other.

What is your Favourite quote?
I don’t have a favourite quote, there are too many beautiful and authentic quotes out there that bring solace, amusement and joy at different stages of my life.   I do love this though from Oscar Wilde — ‘Every woman becomes their mother. That’s their tragedy. And no man becomes his. That’s his tragedy.’

Working with teenage girls if you told them at 15 they are going to become just like their mother’s that may not bring joy to their life.

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