Working at a boarding school can be more challenging than we’d like to admit. I chose to work in a school because I knew that students’ lives are made better by spending time with passionate, dedicated educators. But it wasn’t long before I was drowning in tasks with no time to give my students the focus and attention they deserved. I was always worried about the students, constantly trying to meet their parents’ expectations, and rarely had time to meet my own needs. Work-life balance was non-existent, and I was constantly being pulled in too many directions with never enough planning time. I felt like I was never getting it right. Yet, I always felt like I had to appear “fine” and “on top of it” even when I wasn’t.
When I became a Dean and a mother in the same year, I was working what felt like endless hours. I knew I was on a path that was not sustainable, but it felt like a choice between the school and my family. My colleagues on the leadership team tried their best to be supportive, but we were all burning the same double-ended candle and were accustomed to early mornings, late nights, and “duties as assigned”. I knew something needed to change.
That same year, I began working as a summer faculty for the Association of Boarding Schools. It was here that my eyes were truly opened to possibility. I could have conversations with peers and colleagues outside of my school to learn what they were doing (or not doing) at their schools and discover what kind of support structures were needed to reduce burnout. That’s when it really hit. It wasn’t just me or my school struggling with these issues; it was a systemic issue. Change was an option, and I was learning exactly how to implement it.
I knew that if I was going to make it better for anyone, I couldn’t stay at one school. I had to go bigger. I spent seven summers working in professional development with boarding school staff and leaders running new faculty on-boarding and teaching residential life workshops. Now, I work as a coach and consultant with educators from boarding schools throughout North America. My job is to give educators a partner in the process who understands their experiences. Together, I guide boarding school leaders and their staff toward new habits that will protect them from burning out and get them back to working with kids in a positive and impactful way.
I had to quit boarding school—but you shouldn’t have to. Structural changes and support are not only possible but necessary. Personal and professional work-life balance, clearly defined job roles and boundaries, and meeting students’ needs are all within reach. If your school is ready for meaningful support and an end to overwhelm, I’d love to invite you to book a free call with me below.