Rothesay Netherwood School

Learning the Rothesay way

New Brunswick’s Rothesay Netherwood School is more than a school—it’s a lifestyle.

That was the message parlayed by Paul Kitchen, Head of School, when speaking with The Canadian Business Journal earlier this month. Based in Rothesay, N.B., Rothesay Netherwood School accentuates not only academic excellence to its student body, but teaches these same students to develop as better individuals as a whole.

An Atlantic Canadian boarding, university preparatory school, Rothesay Netherwood School began in 1877 as a co-ed school. Over time, the school shifted to its present-day campus in 1891, rebranding as an all boys’ school. Years later, Rothesay Netherwood School would no longer operate as a single-gender school, but rather it would merge with a nearby all girls’ school, beginning the co-gender education campus that still exists today. In 2011, enrollment numbers have pushed to more than 250 students, with just more than half of that number being boarding students.

Its 200-acre campus is utilized by both staff and students for both educational and recreational purposes. At Rothesay Netherwood School, the passion of teaching is even more so apparent among the school’s cultural diversity. According to the Rothesay Netherwood’s website, the diversity of cultures represented at the school creates a sense of understanding for each student of his or her place in the global community.

“Rothesay Netherwood School is a vibrant and dynamic community. We encourage our students, faculty, and parents to involve themselves in all aspects of school life. Our school community becomes stronger through our interaction and contributions, and we all benefit as the school continues to improve,” reads the website.

Embracing the Rothesay lifestyle

Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood since 1987, Kitchen leads by example, clearly believing that Rothesay Netherwood School and its Atlantic Canadian atmosphere provides plenty of advantages to students. A former student of boarding school himself, Kitchen understands and appreciates the value of such an educational atmosphere. Away from the classroom, Kitchen also emphasizes the importance of one’s character, full believing Rothesay Netherwood School has embodied this extracurricular spirit.

“Mutual support and dignity is a crucial issue, so we’ve focused on that with a consistent philosophy over 25 years,” Kitchen stated.

“No one has a program quite like us. There is a warmth and atmosphere and that creates that sense of community. I hope we’re more successful than most, but I also think we put a disproportional amount of effort into it,” Kitchen said, adding that about 80 per cent of the school’s faculty lives on campus, a sign of the total commitment to both education and lifestyle provided at Rothesay Netherwood School. As such, the high ratio of faculty to students at Rothesay Netherwood School creates a system of interaction and support. The faculty at Rothesay Netherwood School commits to more than teaching, but rather a way of life.

“This isn’t a job you drive into. Any human being who chooses to live with 250 teenagers is probably nuts,” Kitchen joked, “but we’re all committed to that same sense of wellbeing and helping the students in our school to grow.”

Rothesay Netherwood School lives and breathes its core values, embracing both lifestyle and community.

“We are a school that works very hard. Every student is involved in the international baccalaureate program, which creates an extraordinary academic commitment,” Kitchen summarized. “There is a huge commitment from everyone involved to make it all work.”

International exposure and extracurricular commitment

Today, about 25 per cent of the students at Rothesay Netherwood School are international, making up 10 per cent of the student population.

“I think it’s healthy and it contributes to what our students see as the world, having someone from Germany, or Korea, or China as your neighbour is a pretty healthy and positive thing. We’re fortunate to have this flavour, but it doesn’t dominate our Atlantic Canadian atmosphere,” Kitchen said. “We hope we are very much exclusive of everyone, embracing the community.”

Additionally, Rothesay Netherwood School is a member of the Round Square, an organization of international schools from around the world which arranges many trips and exchanges with Rothesay Netherwood’s global partners. This serves as a primary example of the difference between a typical boarding school and Rothesay Netherwood School, illustrating its commitment to its extracurricular programs, involving daily participation, whether it is in an athletic form, or a musical form, or more.

Rothesay’s golden rule

Understandably the golden rule at Rothesay Netherwood School is that each and every student must treat his or her peers with dignity and respect.

“I don’t care if it’s the person who serves French fries, or the person who cuts grass, or the person who teaches, you still treat them with dignity and respect, and if you can’t do that, you can’t be part of this community,” Kitchen said.

The second golden rule is that students must perform their best, with all effort, at whatever they do.

“If you’re not willing to work hard and do the best you can at math or chemistry or singing in the choir, then again, you can’t be part of this school.”

According to Kitchen, Rothesay Netherwood School defines excellence as a student who makes the most of his or her ability.

“My classic thing to parents is that if you’re an 85 per cent student in math, and you get 75 per cent, then that’s a failure to me. But if you’re a 65 per cent student, and you get 70 per cent, that’s excellence; that is the very definition. That’s the way we operate. All the awards at are school are designed through effort, never through academic marks. These are the cornerstone values we operate with on a day-to-day basis.”

Next year, Rothesay Netherwood School will celebrate its 135th anniversary. With such a celebration, the school recognizes its growth and plans to continue moving forward, believing that Rothesay Netherwood School of 2015 needs to be different than its present day version. The school must adapt to the student of 2015.

“A successful boarding school has to continually revamp its programs to be relevant for the students of today and that is one of the remarkable things about Rothesay Netherwood School,” Kitchen said. “We hope people can attend Rothesay and get that opportunity to grow. We hope the school is here for another 135 years to serve Atlantic Canadians and teach those young people the values. Our plan is to keep the school in this mode of continuous improvement.”