It’s Not Just a Job, It’s My Way of Life7th July 2021
It’s a challenge for most parents dealing with two or three of their children daily, let alone more than 50 teenage boys, but Jim and Libby Noble wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Living in an on-campus community isn’t everybody’s idea of a great life, but for Libby, our kids and me, it’s all we’ve ever known,” states Toowoomba Grammar School’s Director of Boarding, Mr Jim Noble.
“I like the notion that where I live is also where the boarders live. I can share that experience with them,” said Jim.
“I like them to see that this is my home too, and I love it. Hopefully, they feed off that and understand we’re all heading in one direction. We’re all custodians of this great School, and the fact that we live here around the clock is pretty special.”
Jim started his first teaching job at Toowoomba Grammar School in 1994, fresh out of university. He lived on-site in Mackintosh House for three years before becoming the Director of Senior School Students at Nudgee College in 1997, where he also ran a boarding house.
In 2008, Jim returned to his beloved TGS as Head of Mackintosh House before being appointed Director of Boarding, which he has held for just over a decade. He has been entrenched in boarding his entire career. It’s not just a job but his passion and his way of life. He is deeply committed to both TGS and the boys entrusted to his care.
“The connections we develop with families are wonderful,” smiled Jim.
“Country parents are some of the warmest and friendliest people. To have the opportunity to work with them and help them raise their son is a privilege.”
Jim has found most boarding families to be highly supportive. Those who send their sons to TGS mirror the School’s values – instilling respect, humility, the importance of giving back to the community and supporting others.
Jim’s role as Director of Boarding is to ensure that the TGS boarding program is run efficiently and is constantly improving. Jim believes the boy’s values, instilled by their families before they arrive at TGS, help when challenges arise. Interpersonal conflict is inevitable when there are so many different personalities. However, the understanding and compassionate way the Heads of House deal with these situations makes all the difference.
“I’m always looking for new ways and ideas to create the absolute best environment for the boys,” Jim said emphatically.
“There’s no way I could do this without the commitment and support of the other Heads of House and boarding staff, such as the kitchen and laundry staff. I need to develop, motivate and support the team so that we all provide the best level of care for our boys.”
Jim also credits Libby for her support and willingness to readily accept that Jim’s time would be shared between their family and their boarding family.
“There is no way I could do this without Libby understanding and embracing the experience,” Jim said adamantly.
“That’s what has kept me in it and is part of the reason I love it so much. This is very much a joint venture, and my energy and positivity are because I have such a supportive family. Libby has considerable involvement and is always there when there are special occasions for the boys like birthdays, formals or the occasional sad moment. She’s called on to assist with ‘mum’ duties often, and she does an amazing job.”
The Noble family love that almost twenty boarding families live on the grounds as Heads of House, Assistant Heads of House, or boarding residents.
“It’s been a wonderful place for our family and our kids to grow up,” Jim reflected.
“There is always someone around, the kids all play together, we have BBQs, it’s like any friendly neighbourhood but in a safer environment.”
That was one of the reasons Jim and Libby wanted to return to Toowoomba Grammar School. They believed that growing up in a regional environment is a positive experience for young people.
“There are fewer distractions than what might come with a big city, but our boys don’t miss out on anything,” Jim said.
“We do great excursions to Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, but come home to the security and steadiness of Toowoomba. If we’re not going away on the weekend, we have plenty of activities right here in town,”
“TGS offers everything that a large city school offers, but we have the safety and security of a regional town. Toowoomba is a very grounded place where people are friendly. It’s big enough without being too big.”
One of the other joys for Jim is developing special bonds with the boys. Most of them keep in touch years after they have graduated, and they reach out to share news and milestones in their lives.
Jim passionately believes that teaching is one of the best jobs in the world because you see the reward for your work. With boarding, the fruits of your labours are even more apparent.
“You work closely with these boys’ parents. They rely so heavily on us to provide structure, boundaries, love and encouragement; it’s so much more than just a classroom education,” stated Jim.
“We see them transform from young boys, some with challenges, to fine young men. You reflect on that and think about how far they’ve come,”
“It’s a rewarding role because you’re driven by the opportunity to actually help a boy grow into a better person.”