The boarding houses’ tutors and matrons each play their own roles in helping the boys of today become the exceptional men of tomorrow.
Words: David Ashton
Irene Giollo, John Duck and Erica Steel Mark Williams with his wife, Jodie
Tutors and matrons are the unsung heroes of the Scotch boarding houses, going about their business quietly and efficiently – yet performing critical roles in the lives of our more than 160 boarders.
They are important roles, filled by people who understand the boys’ educational and ‘life’ needs.
At the start of the School year, Scotch welcomed two new tutors – Nick Adgemis and Old Boy John Duck (’96) – to its boarding house staff, and new matrons joined the Arthur Robinson House and McMeckan House staff: Erica Steel (Arthur Robinson) and Irene Giollo (McMeckan).
As well, this year senior mathematics teacher Mark Williams is tutoring in maths in School House; Tim Byrnes (Head of Commerce), returning after a year on exchange in England, is Deputy Head of School House and tutoring in commerce; and Jamie Kane is Deputy Head of Arthur Robinson House to Chris Braithwaite, and is tutoring there in media studies.
The tutors are on hand during the boarders’ evening study times, for specialised help and advice in their fields of expertise.
Arthur Robinson Housemaster Chris Braithwaite says having the tutors present during study times is a most important asset for the boarders.
‘The boys can refer problems or queries to the tutors, and receive on-the-spot guidance during their study time,’ Chris said. ‘It’s a vital resource for our boarders, and they appreciate the opportunity they have for this expert help.’
Work life for the boarding house matrons is really a 24-hour, seven days a week occupation. It involves organising, nurturing, counselling, comforting, providing friendship, overcoming loneliness and administering first aid.
Previously a teacher for more than 30 years, and with three university degrees to her credit, Irene Giollo now has a job that no amount of study or experience can totally fit her for: looking after the day-to-day needs of 62 boys of widely varying temperaments, personalities and needs.
Her job is all about sewing on buttons, distributing laundry, making sure a boy isn’t wearing the same shirt on five consecutive days, taking personal care if a boy is sick, and never forgetting to cook a cake for a boy’s birthday. Irene must also have a sixth sense to detect if a boy needs a shoulder to cry on. She should know how boys think – she has three sons of her own.
‘I don’t want to be a disciplinarian,’ she says. ‘If that’s necessary I’ll leave it to the housemasters. I want to be a person who makes life easier for the boys. I am a mum away from their real mums.’
Erica Steel, with a background in counselling naturopathy, and work with young people – not to mention degrees in health science and arts (psychology) – says the matron’s role is to be a ‘nurturer’ – to ‘make sure the boys are happy, not homesick, and they are able to tackle their schoolwork without the burden of emotional stress’.
Her initial impressions of boarding house life were that it ‘surpassed my expectations’. She described Arthur Robinson House as ‘a real family environment’, and said the boys ‘keep me laughing; it’s like having a big family, and they’re very special to me’.
Scotch College: ABN 86 852 826 445 ACN 005 650 395 CRICOS 00624A (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students)