Family Boarding Enhances Student Experience

As you are no doubt aware, Family Boarding at GNS has developed significantly in the past two years. The school has long maintained a small group of international students, but under the guidance of Deputy Head, Chad Holtum, that group has steadily grown, both in number and in diversity. More than 60 students from almost two dozen countries now participate in Family Boarding, and nearly 80 international students in total attend classes at one of our two campuses. This group broadens the cultural perspective and awareness of all students and enhances the experiences of everyone at GNS. At this point, we feel we have reached the optimal size of our international student body.

GNS has always strived to create a rich global lens through which students engage in our curricula. Indeed, as both an IB Continuum school and a member of the Round Square organization, we have long championed the value of students experiencing first-hand that the world they inhabit is becoming ever more inter-connected. Communication skills, the willingness to build consensus and the ability to demonstrate acceptance and understanding are virtues that tomorrow's leaders will need to embody and employ, and interactions between young minds with differing viewpoints offer first-hand opportunities to foster empathy and respect.

While the student experience remains at the forefront of decision-making at GNS, there were, of course, more practical considerations at play when we expanded the Family Boarding footprint. When it was first introduced, my predecessor, Mr. Simon Bruce-Lockhart, recognized the need to expand the pool of potential GNS students and families in order to remain strong during times of domestic market uncertainty. Although we were fortunate to escape the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 relatively unscathed, the Board and senior management determined that it continues to be important to act proactively in order to be prepared for potential future challenges.

Family Boarding Enhances Student Experience

Prospective international students and families are expected to contribute to life at GNS in ways that benefit our entire community. With the number of applicants for Family Boarding far exceeding the space available, the Admissions Office is in an ideal position to identify the students whose interests and aptitudes best fit with the GNS mission, vision and values.

I am confident that the Family Boarding Program will continue to serve GNS students well in the coming years as we embrace our new sense of internationalism while at the same time staying true to our Canadian heritage and the long-standing traditions that shape the GNS identity.

Family Boarding allows us to promote GNS and our unique brand of education to every corner of the globe. Because the program is quite literally the first of its kind, it has required a near-Herculean effort to implement, with Mr. Holtum and Admissions, spreading our school's message, and Family Boarding Coordinator, Sarah Harvey, ensuring that the needs of both students and Host Families are met. As with every new program, there are wrinkles that need ironing, but if you speak with the students or their hosts, you'll find that the experience for both has been profoundly positive.

If you are interested in learning more about being a Family Boarding host family, please feel welcome to connect with Mr. Holtum in the Advancement Office.

by Glenn Zedrayko, Head of School