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Finding the balance

26 May 2020

From “Casa Cortesi”, his “country estate” in Lincoln, Harper Housemaster and Physical Education teacher Matt Cortesi kept all his (foot)balls in the air, managing Housemaster and teaching responsibilities, helping to organise the upcoming football season in his role as Canterbury representative on the New Zealand secondary schools’ football committee, and sharing the load of home schooling his two daughters with his wife.

“I’m very lucky. I have a very understanding wife and the girls were really good, they knew the situation and helped make it work. It was about finding time where we could work and get what we needed to do done, plus give them time. Our approach to home schooling was to divide and conquer; we took one each. Thankfully, the girls are very task oriented and their school had provided some good learning materials. Overall, it was about finding the balance.”

Matt chose to focus on House work in the morning, trying to keep as many things as normal as possible, even maintaining the weekly Harper House chocolate draw. He made regular videos, sharing inspirational messages and ideas, checking engagement and giving tips on how to manage remote learning and make the best use of Schoolbox, was available to talk to parents and boys as needed, and managed his own teaching load.

“All Housemasters did a really good job of keeping in touch with their Houses and everybody did it in their own way. Plus the teachers did a great job of monitoring and identifying boys who were falling behind. A lot of my day was following up teachers’ requests – seeing whether boys were keeping up and tracking their progress.”

Matt is acutely aware of the importance of health and wellbeing, and encouraged his boys to stay active and look after themselves, suggesting “isolation breakers” and setting challenges to inspire them to think of others and help out at home.

“Of course it was a bit of a grind at times, and I talked to the boys about that, but it’s been great to see how well they all coped and got through.”

Although Harper House is temporarily housed in the Chapel while waiting for physical distancing requirements to relax the return to school has gone well and Matt says it is good to be back – and, as well as getting the House and lessons on track, he is busy contacting all the boys who are keen to play football and looking forward to the season ahead.

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