2012 will be my twelfth summer as a Centre Manager and my seventh with Summer Boarding Courses. I have managed at three of SBC’s four schools and every summer brings new challenges, new experiences and new friends. But what exactly does the Centre Manager do?
A lot of our work begins before anyone arrives at the school. Planning the bedroom arrangements, double-checking all of the arrival information and putting the final touches on our activity programme. There is a lot of preparation work that means that when the first student comes out into the Heathrow arrivals hall with a beaming smile on their face, you know you are in for a great summer.
Once they have been transferred from the airport by our arrivals team, new students are greeted on site by our staff team, made to feel at home, are shown their rooms and get to meet their new roommates for the next few weeks. On the first morning new arrivals need inducting on the rules of the school, health and safety information and then testing for their English level by the academic team. They have a tour of the school and get to see all of the incredible facilities that it has to offer. As soon as lunch is over, everyone is raring to go with the first activity session. By now students are getting into the swing of the school and are already making new friends and forgetting any nervousness they may have had about speaking English! The first evening disco is always a great moment and brings the first hectic day to a close. Having relaxed back at the houses with juice and biscuits, it’s time for a welcome night’s sleep.
Every day throws up new challenges – there is always something to do. This could include organising prizes for a competition or a cake for a student’s birthday, managing the laundry service, consulting weather forecasts, refereeing World Cup football, checking departure flight times and airport transfers, presenting certificates to leavers, judging a talent night or simply chatting and having fun with students and getting to know them better.
Aside from running the day to day life of the school, the management team also plans the excursion programme down to the finest detail. At SBC the excursions are a real plus as students get to see some of the most exciting and beautiful places that the UK has to offer. It’s great to be able to get out and about with the students yourself and see them grow, not only in terms of their English, but as young individuals as they take in their new surroundings.
Welcoming young people from all over the world, many of them abroad without their families for the first time, brings great responsibility but also an incredible sense of satisfaction that would be hard to beat in any job. Watching the students get to know each other, learning about each other’s cultures and backgrounds and forging life-long friendships is an incredible experience for everyone on the staff team.
It is always an emotional moment when we finally have to say goodbye to students that have been with us, sometimes for several weeks. But behind the scenes the departure day is a clockwork operation ensuring students are transferred to airports and checked-in smoothly, whilst back at school staff prepare for new arrivals and a new chapter in the life of the school.
As with any job at the summer school, being Centre Manager requires a lot of energy. The pace of the school and the students keeps you going – you just don’t have time to stop. It is six weeks of your life that brings with it memories and friendships that last forever. The hardest part is when it’s all over.