07.03.18 - New Head of Boarding Outlines Vision for Provision

We’re delighted to welcome Mrs Gensmantel, or Mrs G as preferred, to Ockbrook School as our new Head of Boarding.

Mrs Gensmantel has almost 10 years’ experience in boarding, most recently at an independent school in Suffolk. She arrives with exciting plans to develop our boarding provision. We caught up with her to find out more about her work and home life, and an adorable pooch named Boris.

How long have you been involved in education; what made you enter this career?

I have been in ‘boarding’ for nearly 10 years. I have worked with children in different capacities within schools, such as sports coaching, teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) and a teaching assistant. I’m passionate about boarding and felt this was where I could make the biggest change and impact on students’ lives. I have a real interest in overseas students and ensuring they settle in quickly so that they can really make the most of their time at school. That’s all about providing them with the right support. I am a qualified Safeguarding Lead, EFL Teacher and Teaching Assistant and hope to put these skills to good use here at Ockbrook School.

Why did you move north to Derbyshire from Suffolk?

The move happened because I wanted to be closer to family and to finally live with my husband after nearly three years apart, due to our jobs. Family is very important to me.

Favourite things to do away from the classroom?

Reading; dog walking (my beautiful boy Boris); working out e.g. running/gym/fitness classes; spending time with my family; shopping; supporting local charities; working with the homeless; skiing; dancing salsa; and relaxing.

Favourite food?

I’m vegan, so it’s very difficult to have a favourite food, however I do love Italian and Moroccan dishes; vegan versions of course. Booja Booja Ice Cream is amazing too!

A fun fact about yourself?

I once auditioned on Pop Idol! I’m not saying how far I got as people may search for me. I love to sing Country, Blues and Pop and have often been told I could have gone professional. My husband is desperate for me to audition for The Voice!

I also once got on the wrong flight and had to be escorted off in a car with flashing lights! I thought I was being arrested… scary but very funny afterwards.

What are your plans for boarding at Ockbrook?

I have many plans in mind to develop the boarding provision at Ockbrook and nurture stronger links between our boarding community and our day students. I’m hoping these small steps will increase the demand for boarding so that we can welcome more international and UK students.

A few immediate plans that spring to mind are:

  • Introducing a ‘buy one get one free’ offer for our current day students.
  • Trial sleepovers for our boarders, allowing them to invite friends in to their home.
  • Plan more themed events that both our boarders and day students can enjoy.
  • Open the boarding houses to Year 5 and 6 students and invite the day students to attend some of our Saturday activities.
  • I have set up a ‘private’ Facebook group for the boarders and their parents. This will give them the opportunity to see exactly what our boarders are getting up to.