Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in our Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Head of Boarding Yvonne Ginnelly about her time in Alex.
How did you get interested in working in a boarding school?
Initially, I worked as a manager in assisted living, and we took in adults from age 30 to around 70 or 80. Then we began bringing in some third level students who needed a bit of support, and they brought a new dimension to the job that I found really interesting. I later saw an ad for a job in a girl's boarding school and thought that it would be an interesting new direction for my career, and I stayed there for a number of years before moving to Alex.
What does a typical day for you look like?
Well it begins shortly after 6 am when we get the house ready, turn on the lights, open up the place. Then at 7 am I walk the corridors and ring the famous bell, knocking on doors and getting the girls up for the day. By around 8:30 am, I’m just making sure that everyone has gotten on the bus or walked to school before starting in on taking care of the boarding house. It’s a lot of laundry, taking post, answering the phone, and just generally running a house.
Then the girls come back at 4 pm, and it’s very busy here because there’s a lot of different people going different places for extracurricular activities and things. Dinner starts for the girls at 5:30 pm, and at 6:20 pm the girls head out to prep for the rest of the evening, and after that is lights out. Saturday and Sunday are a little different since there’s no bell, and we’re often out of Res doing different activities. We’ll be headed to Tayto Park this Saturday!
Why did you choose to join the Alex community? What do you like best about Alex?
I was working in another boarding school when I saw the advertisement, and I was really drawn to the ethos of the school. I loved that Alex doesn’t just concentrate on academics, or sports, but really educates across disciplines with music, arts and drama, sport and academics all valued. It gives people who haven’t had the opportunity to experience those subjects a chance to try them, and maybe at some stage follow on with that in their career. We have alumnae playing hockey at a very senior level, performing music internationally, and so much more.
How have you adapted your work for Covid-19?
Well when Covid-19 first came to Ireland, our students were still here in the boarding house, so in some ways, classes went on as normal. Everyone was very mindful that we had to protect each other, and we moved along and got through it. Since then, the girls have been incredibly resilient through the pandemic, even as some of our students have not been able to go home and visit their families since it began and we’re incredibly proud of them.
What has been the highlight of your time in Alex so far?
I love seeing girls come into the school in Junior School or 1st Year, and staying in the school all the way through 6th Year; it’s wonderful to see how much they change and grow over the years. Of course, it’s also exciting to see the new Hermione building nearly completed for next year!