Clarendon House - Girls

Clarendon HouseOur hope for Clarendon is for it to be a home away from home, both for boarders and day girls, and time and again, it seems that is how the girls feel. Over their time at Clarendon we want the girls to discover passions and abilities they didn’t know they had, to develop an inner strength and courage in dealing with life’s challenges and difficulties, to learn to laugh at themselves, but learn from the things that go wrong, and most of all we want to have fun together, to learn to love each other as a community, and eat a lot of food!

Becoming houseparents wasn’t necessarily something we saw coming! True, James has been a Maths teacher for nearly 20 years, following his Maths degree at Oxford, and is an OM, so Monkton was always there in the background. (He was actually at Monkton when Clarendon opened). We used to talk about maybe working there one day, but in a “castle in the sky” way. Mairion’s previous life was being an Anglican vicar, and working with teenagers for much of that time. Then, suddenly, moving to Monkton became a possibility, and swiftly after that we became houseparents at Clarendon in 2015.  And without fully knowing it, we had found our perfect job. It even came with the responsibility of holding a large Bonfire night party each year, which has been one of Mairion’s long-time secret ambitions!

When we are not chatting with girls, or organising a spa night in the common room, James loves coaching hockey, playing and watching sport or gardening, while Mairion loves reading, movies and chocolate. We all love camping, especially by the sea. Our three children love Clarendon and Monkton life.

The Goodman family

The Goodman family

What we love most about being houseparents is that you just never know what will happen next, whether it is a shoe stuck up a tree, a deep crisis or celebrating many triumphs with the girls, on the sports field, in the classroom, in music, drama or just them pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and their delight when that pays off and they grow in themselves.

Mairion and James Goodman
Clarendon House Houseparents

What 3 things would you recommend girls should bring with them to get the most out of their time in Clarendon house?

Willingness to give things a go, whether or not you turn out to be good at it, something to make your space feel like home and a desire to contribute to our community in some way.

What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?

There are so many hilarious moments, which is one of the great things about being a houseparent, but the most unexpected is possibly, “There is a squirrel in our kitchen!”. What made it even odder was that the kitchen was on the third floor! It was humanely returned to the wild. A close contender was the phone call saying, “Miss, I am in the TV room (ground floor of 3) and it is raining on me!

Describe your job as houseparent?

It’s almost impossible, as there are so many, in some cases, very random things you do as a houseparent. As well as organising lots of practical details about the house, I think there are three things we see as key, all of them flowing from our own Christian faith. The first is being able to be there for girls who are having a hard time for whatever reason. The second is trying to find ways to help each girl discover who she is and what she is passionate about, and the third is having fun with them and helping them have fun with each other. We’ve never had a job like it!

What is the unofficial motto of Clarendon House?

We have an official motto: Not to be Served But to Serve, which is embodied over and over by the girls, from walking back to the house to get something for someone, to making them a toastie and a cuppa when they are upset, and in the older girls being “big sisters” to the younger ones.  

We also have two unofficial mottos:
Be a lion not a sheep - We want the girls to be strong in themselves, to know the right path and choose it, rather than following everyone else, and Clarendon has a long association with lions, going back to Clarendon School.

The second is:
#unapologetically fabulous! Which makes us laugh, but also says what we hope for the girls - that they will know who they are, that they are unique and amazing, and not feel the need to apologise for who they are.