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21 August 2022 / Category : School

National Award for Rangi Ruru Boarding

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An innovative approach to knowing and caring for each student in Rangi Ruru’s boarding house has earned Director of Boarding Kyleigh Lyth the top boarding award in New Zealand.

Mrs Lyth was awarded the New Zealand Boarding School Association Award for Innovation in 21st Century New Zealand Boarding at this year’s conference.

The award recognises Mrs Lyth’s incredibly comprehensive approach to student wellbeing that she has implemented since joining Rangi Ruru in 2017.

“Being a director of boarding is a unique position,” says Mrs Lyth. “You wear many hats across pastoral care, business, finance, staffing, HR and then there are the complexities of the general health and wellbeing of students, and at times of their families’, too. So the recognition means a lot to me, it is recognition that the things I have done here have had an impact.”

Since taking up the role, Mrs Lyth has introduced a range of new programmes, events and ways of communication to induct students and families into boarding, monitor their wellbeing and create connection.

Mrs Lyth visits nearly every new student and their families at home before they join the boarding house and ensures that on arrival each student meets with the boarding house nurses to talk about their holistic physical and mental health.

The term before each new student is due to start at Rangi Ruru, they are sent a welcome card from a Year 12. By the time the junior student arrives, they have been in communication with and already started forming a relationship with their now Year 13 mentor. The students complete a formal mentor-mentee programme, which culminates in a much-anticipated dessert night celebration at the end of Term 1.

“I want the students to all feel they are part of our community, that they all have a place and that they can be themselves and they don’t have to be someone else to fit in,” says Mrs Lyth.

“One of the biggest things I have tried to do is break down the barrier between seniors and juniors; making sure each junior knows everything they need to know about life in the boarding house and has connections across many year groups.”

A new student council under Mrs Lyth sees representation from all year levels, which further embeds relationships across year groups and sees to the organisation of regular social events like themed dinners and the end of year chapel service.

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Mrs Lyth knows each of the 136 Rangi Ruru boarders personally, and employs a positive psychology approach to her leadership; often bringing in external agencies to provide individual strengths-based sessions with students.

“It’s a massive step for students to come into a new school, a new home and often a very different environment to where they have come from. I love seeing how much they grow, how they gain confidence and discover who they are as people,” she says.

As well as the overnight lock-up of devices, Mrs Lyth has also introduced tech-free afternoons and evenings to encourage face-to-face relationships. Clan activities allow for healthy competition and boarders can earn Clan points for their peers in the wider school.

Mrs Lyth ensures families are contacted regularly by newsletters and video updates, as well as sending an annual survey to provide feedback and suggestions for life in the boarding house. They are also invited to regular events in and outside of the boarding house.

Beyond her care of the students, Mrs Lyth is a respected and well-liked leader who has built a happy team culture.

Rangi Ruru Principal Dr Sandra Hastie says Kyleigh’s work in the boarding house has cultivated an outstanding culture where students feel cared for and connected to each other and the school.

“Kyleigh has turned the boarding house into a home where everyone belongs and is valued. She has an X-factor and her positivity and ability to form a team where everyone feels respected and cared for is one of the many strengths that she exhibits.

“She is so deserving of this award and I so thrilled for her that so many of her strengths and talents are being recognised at a national level.”

Learn more about boarding at Rangi Ruru here.