A Day in the Life: Managing a Boarding School in Dubai

Embark on a journey to witness a typical day in the life of Ashley Fitzgibbons, Head of Boarding at Swiss International School Dubai (SISD).

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A Glimpse into a Day in the Life of a Boarding Head at Swiss International School Dubai

Responsible for overseeing 100 children's daily routines, she takes charge of ensuring their well-being, studies, activities, and meals are well-managed. As the 35-year-old Irish-born educator shares, her weekdays are packed with various tasks, and she provides an inside look into her bustling schedule.

6am: Start of a Productive Day

Ms. Fitzgibbons begins her day early, reviewing the calendar to prepare for the day's events, such as birthdays, scheduled tournaments, or planned flights. Simultaneously, she checks if the children have completed their chores, and the housekeeping team commences cleaning the common areas in the boarding houses. The vibrant atmosphere of over 20 nationalities adds to the lively atmosphere at SISD.

6.40am: Waking Up to Music

To rouse the youngsters, Ms. Fitzgibbons turns on the radio for a quick 20-minute wake-up call in Geneva House (boys) and Zurich House (girls), where each floor is supervised by one of the 14 boarding staff members living alongside them. After breakfast in the canteen, the students scan into an attendance system, and any absentees are noted. Clothes left behind by former boarders are washed and donated as part of the curriculum's community service element.

8am: Ensuring Smooth Operations and Teaching Life Skills

As the boarders head to school, Ms. Fitzgibbons reviews the canteen report for popular food options and feedback. She also attends to any students with sniffles, making sure that the clinic is ready to assist. The matron coordinates with cleaners, reporting to Ms. Fitzgibbons if any bedroom checks are required. Addressing concerns and teaching essential life skills like ironing shirts or reading clothes labels are part of her responsibilities.

8.30am: Admissions Meeting and Team Talks

Ms. Fitzgibbons participates in an admissions meeting to plan for the upcoming academic year, handling rooming arrangements and welcoming newcomers. Subsequent team talks with support staff and laundry personnel ensure smooth operations. She also oversees the boarding Instagram account, sharing updates and photos with parents.

10-2pm: Balancing Work and Relaxation

During this period, Ms. Fitzgibbons attends to administrative tasks, fitting in a quick "grab and go" lunch around noon. Her secretary ensures she has time to relax during the middle of the day, enabling her to take a walk or enjoy a coffee. Besides her boarding responsibilities, she also teaches business management and conducts meetings and interviews.

3.30pm: After-School Activities and Enrichment

After school, roll call takes place before various after-school activities like swimming, debate club, and jiu-jitsu. Ms. Fitzgibbons emphasizes the importance of a well-rounded education, encouraging students to participate in enrichment activities and offering academic support as needed.

5-6pm: Sports and Learning

Students participate in sports like badminton or basketball, while others receive academic support from teachers who drop in to assist. The strong relationships Ms. Fitzgibbons builds with the students allow her to witness their personal growth and journeys.

7pm: Dinner Time and Evening Activities

Dinner is served in the dining hall, followed by relaxing evenings in the houses. Working on weekends occasionally, takeaway nights, like ordering Shake Shack for 70, become a fun and lively experience.

9-10pm: Favourite Time of the Day

Final roll call ensures everyone is accounted for before Ms. Fitzgibbons enjoys her favorite time of the day. Students gather in the foyer, sharing stories and plans, fostering a warm and caring atmosphere.

11.30pm: Time to Rest and Prepare for the Next Day

Before going to bed, Ms. Fitzgibbons performs a final email check, ensuring that all tasks are managed. As the holidays approach, she anticipates busy days overseeing flights home and room moves. The rewarding nature of her role at SISD keeps her dedicated to providing the best experience for the students and staff alike.

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