Next level learning

Charlie Humphreys’ parents wanted their son to experience the world beyond Mudgee and grasp the opportunities only a college of St Joseph’s calibre can offer.

Luke Humphreys calls it “small town syndrome”, the narrow range of experiences and opportunities that can disadvantage people who grow up outside of the big cities. He didn’t want it happening to his son, Charlie. He wanted him to become an independent young man exposed to a diversity of friendships and ideas and capable of making his own way in the world.

That’s why Joeys was on Charlie’s parents’ radar as a secondary school option.

It helped that Luke was an Old Boy (1995) – he’d boarded in Year 11 and 12 from Bathurst – and had experienced first-hand the many benefits of a Joeys education.

Charlie’s mum Claudia Wythes was also keen for him to spread his wings and grow as a learner. Their plan was to enrol Charlie in Year 9 at Hunters Hill, but the pressures
of the pandemic forced them to fast-track their decision.

They felt there had to be a more productive way to experience home learning – their son was not getting the stimulus he needed. When lockdown happened again, the decision to send Charlie to Joeys in Year 8 was fully vindicated.

Rural connection: Charlie’s family in their home town of Mudgee.

“The way Joeys dealt with Covid was brilliant,” Claudia says.

She appreciated the clear and detailed communication between the school and her family, and the extensive support network put in place to ensure Charlie was knuckling down.

“He could talk to teachers after class if there were problems, and there was a strict timetable of classes on Zoom so that he was never left to his own devices,” Claudia says. “Despite only having the first two terms on site, it was clear the teachers knew his strengths and weaknesses.”

When Luke and Claudia were worried that Charlie wasn’t applying himself, they contacted his academic coordinator. The response blew them away.

“Within 24 hours there was a summary of how he was doing from every teacher emailed to us,” Luke says. “That really impressed me.”

“Charlie’s confidence has improved out of sight since he’s been at Joeys, he’s expanded his horizons and is becoming more self-reliant – we can’t recommend it enough.”

Mr Luke Humphreys, Charlie’s dad

Charlie’s parents have discovered that care and devotion to students’ welfare and learning is not an isolated event; it happens all-year-round at Joeys. The result has been an uptick in Charlie’s academic performance and growth in his maturity.

“He is being helped to reach his potential,” Claudia says. “He is learning effective study techniques from his coordinators, and the supervised study periods mean he is gaining good habits he will be able to use later on.”

The Humphreys live in Mudgee, 260 kilometres from Hunters Hill. Luke is a builder and Claudia works with Landcare. They also have a younger son, Lachlan. They are a busy family. Before deciding on St Joseph’s College, they had to be sure that as a boarder Charlie would be well looked after so they could rest easy. Claudia met with Head of Boarding John Reading for a tour of the College and was reassured by the pastoral care and support offered to all boys.

“I was excited for Charlie to go away but I was also sad to lose my person who did the ironing!” she laughs. Having experienced boarding school herself, she knew first-hand how beneficial it would be for Charlie and the lifelong friendships he would make.

“Like Luke, I’ve always wanted my children to be raised as independent young men,” she says. “At Joeys, there’s a balance between nurturing and independence. And Charlie is absolutely thriving; his academic results are good and he has so many friends from different backgrounds.”

The College is renowned for its home-away-from-home, family atmosphere and sense of community.

Reaping the rewards: Charlie is revelling in Joeys’ supportive environment.

Although community events were limited last year because of Covid, Luke and Claudia have enjoyed the form dinners and the Joeys parents they’ve met. They have been particularly impressed by the generosity of spirit and willingness to help.

“Because we’re three-and-a-half hours away, there have been offers from the parents of day boys to get things Charlie needs and even for him to stay with them for a weekend if he wants a break from the College. It’s really nice.”

They’ve also appreciated the warmth and convenience of the nearby Country Club, where parents and relatives can stay overnight while visiting their sons.

“It’s unique and so handy for people from country areas,” Claudia says. “My parents and Luke’s Dad stayed there when they attended Grandparents Day.”

Luke and Claudia feel the College creates the right environment for boys to flourish in and become young men of character who contribute positively to society.

“Charlie’s confidence has improved out of sight since he’s been there,” Luke says. “He’s expanded his horizons and is becoming more self-reliant.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of parents up here in Mudgee who are thinking about sending their boys to Joeys. We cannot recommend it enough.”