College – Issue 34

A fresh approach

A smooth transition

Throughout his career, wherever he has worked – whether in New Zealand or overseas – History teacher and Flower’s Housemaster Ben Vink has always had a keen interest in pastoral care. “You have to deal with a lot of different issues and you never know what’s going to happen next. But that’s what’s so great about it. I like having real conversations with the kids about who they are and where they see themselves in a few years, and helping them through what, for some, can be very difficult times.” After several years away, Ben returned to College in 2007 and was appointed Deputy Housemaster of Richards House, before becoming Housemaster of Julius House in 2009. In 2016, Ben – along with his wife, English teacher Melissa Campbell – went on sabbatical, visiting schools in the UK and Finland. “We saw some great schools, particularly in Turku, Finland, because of where they are with education and research. We wanted to see if there was substance behind the myth and were really impressed. “Sabbatical was a game-changer for me, it kick-started the next phase of my career. I felt ready to take on new challenges at the next level, so when the Flower’s Housemaster role came up, I knew I wanted it.” Ben believes in open communication, setting firm but fair boundaries, using positive reinforcement and creating a culture of respect. He enjoys bouncing ideas around with other House staff – and Melissa, although currently on maternity leave after the birth of baby Archie in February, is very much part of the team. “It’s been easier than I expected, I think because everyone knows us. I came in with a plan and have been very open about my expectations. The boys have really come on board. They knew there was going to be change and they’re ready for it.”

Housemaster Kevin Harris started working in Richards House as deputy to long-standing former Housemaster Chris Sellars, so when the time came for Chris to hand over the reins, Kevin was ready to take on the role and make it his own. “Chris left an amazing legacy. He was an excellent mentor. I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead Richards House.” One of Kevin’s first tasks was to oversee an extensive programme of renovations, with Richards House now having more beds, modernised bathrooms and extra showers, as well as new carpet, curtains and paintwork. “It’s a boys’ hostel, so it has to be boy proof,” says Kevin. “The improvements are perhaps more functional than aesthetic, but they’ve made a welcome difference to the look and feel of the House.” Kevin relinquished the Head of Technology role when he was appointed Richards Housemaster, wanting to be able to fully focus on his new responsibilities. He describes being a boarding Housemaster as the “total package”, and enjoys working closely with House staff to ensure the boys have the best possible boarding experience. He is very mindful of the responsibility he has in loco parentis , is passionate about pastoral care, and aims to foster an environment where the boys respect and accept one another and are inspired to do their best. “Our boys represent a huge cross section of people from an eclectic mix of backgrounds. Thankfully, they’re accepting of their differences and supportive of each other. They’re a great group of boys, which on the whole makes for a very happy House.”

Christ’s College Canterbury


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