Meet Henry White, our new Head of Corfe House

  • Tell us about yourself

My background, at least that associated with boarding and teaching, is long and varied with a number of different aspects leading to this chosen career path. For the most part, I was schooled in Canberra but had extended periods in Lesotho, Norfolk Island, and Samoa as a result of my father’s work in foreign aid. My schooling was quite disruptive, and I wasn’t a model student! I was always passionate about English; often distracting myself (amongst other things) immersed in a book. I graduated from Lake Ginninderra College, Canberra, in 2010 to pursue a military career in the Royal Australian Navy and was commissioned as a Warfare Officer in 2011. I valued the discipline and character strengths I built when in the Navy, but for the most part, the communal environment within which I had been a part of. Once concluding my time in the Navy, I hoped to pursue a more intrinsically motivating career path and felt that English teaching – and modelling the stable academic support figure that I never really had – would be a worthy cause.

  • What do you enjoy about boarding?

I first became involved with boarding in 2016 during my third year of university, while studying Education and English at the University of Sydney. Believe it or not, I met the Head of Boarding at Riverview, Sydney, at a Wallabies Bledisloe Test. He spruiked the Resident Master role in their Year 10 Boarding House, suggesting it would be a brilliant fit for a young pre-service teacher to sink their teeth into. He wasn’t lying! I spent the next two years there and feel that particular experience was perhaps the most formative in shaping my boarding ideology; I’ve come a long way since then, but cutting my teeth in those early years was invaluable.

From there, I’ve seen boarding as an integral part of my teaching career as it provides a unique experience to connect with, and understand students holistically. It is my core belief that pastoral wellbeing is fundamental to not just academic success, but the shaping of good character. By tapping into boarding as a career path I feel that I can impart a profound impact on youth, particularly the impressionable Middle Years (Years 7 to 8) where students are not just discovering who they are, but what they can and who they should be. Beyond this, I really enjoy it!

  • What will your fiancée, Samantha bring to Corfe House?

Once Samantha joins our ranks here in Corfe, she looks forward to bringing a great deal of energy to the role. She is excited to be an active presence in the House, assisting the boys by driving a supported reading program a few evenings each week, joining us on Corfe runs as part of the Corfe House Running Club – a new initiative I intend to roll out in Term 4 – and being a consistent presence and support figure to the young men of Corfe. Having grown up as a boarder from Years 7 to 12 at Pymble Ladies College, Sydney, Samantha is well-versed in boarding and understands the dual states of challenge and excitement that comes with boarding as a student. I think she will make a cracking addition to our team and a brilliant surrogate auntie!

  • Why do you believe an all-boys' education is important?

I believe single-sex education gives boys an opportunity to step outside gender stereotypes without fear of censure from their peers. In a single-sex environment, boys are encouraged to perceive and enact a varied understanding of what it is to be a good man and a good character. Single-sex education for boys has the potential to bring a wider view to the concept of what it is to be a man; it is my goal in Corfe to open the boys’ eyes to that view, that there isn’t a singular definition of ‘manliness’.

  • What is your boarding philosophy?

As touched on previously, as an educator and as a Head of House, it is my firm belief that close pastoral support and guidance are the cornerstones of student wellbeing and academic achievement, and that the impact of this is most profound within these formative and impressionable middle years. Moreover, from a boarding perspective, enabling young boys to flourish is only achieved within a community that is safe, welcoming, and joyous. These three aspects are at the core of my boarding philosophy and are closely aligned with my fundamental values as a Head of House – acceptance, resilience, and fun.

  • How crucial is this ‘Corfe House’ experience for our younger boarders, setting up their boarding platform for the next few years?

In my eyes, a positive experience in Corfe is vital. Corfe House serves as the entry point for TGS boarding and the skills, relationships, and perspectives they develop during this year will be the bedrock for their following experiences. As a result, I feel I have an important responsibility to guide students into positive and constructive habits and ways of living and interacting with others to ensure that they thrive as they continue their journey.

  • It’s obvious boys will experience home sickness, in all year levels, but particularly these younger boys. How do you deal with that?

Home sickness is a natural thing; I’d be more worried if the boys didn’t get homesick! I don’t think there is a single, hard and fast way to deal with homesickness as boys are so varied in their emotions. However, what remains consistent is ensuring that, independent of circumstance, a boy must be treated with empathy and compassion and must feel supported in their transition away from home. Furthermore, opening and consolidating lines of communication with Mum and Dad at home is vital – from my experience homesickness isn’t a one-way street; if the boys are feeling it in the house, you can expect that Mum and Dad aren’t at 100% either. Care needs to go both ways and I’m only a phone call away.

  • What role do you want families to play in the boys' boarding experience?

I believe a family’s role in the boarding process is incredibly important and equally challenging. For boys to flourish in a boarding environment, they need to feel connected and supported from home, and likewise, for parents to gain trust and confidence in the boarding program, connection and support needs to be reciprocated. Ultimately, this can be funnelled into effective lines of communication between parents and the House. I wish to enact a mantra of 80/20 communication – put simply, my intention is to establish and initiate 80% of communication via weekly newsletters, phone call check-ins at least once a term, and regular upkeep of House communication platforms. In doing so, I would hope and expect that only 20% of communication is initiated by parents due to inevitable and natural concerns.

In playing their role in the student’s boarding experience, I encourage parents to trust our processes and judgement and understand that nobody knows their son better than they do, but that we know boys and we know boarding; their son’s best interest is in our safe hands.

Henry White
Head of House - Corfe Boarding

Mr Henry White

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