November 12, 2020 | Huddle Staff
Thinking about sending your child to study and live away from home is a big decision. Are they ready? Who will not only teach them but care for them? What will their classrooms, and bedroom, be like? Can you picture them in their surroundings, with faculty and friends? For independent schools around the world, inviting students and families for a campus tour is a key selling tool for recruitment.
In the new, COVID-19 reality, travel restrictions and social distancing measures make in-person tours a challenge. With safety top of mind, and by leaning on technology and its tight-knit community, Rothesay Netherwood School (RNS) has turned to immersive virtual tours that not only put potential families on-site remotely but also put their minds at ease.
“We’re able to showcase situations ‘in real life’, like live-streaming a class that’s in session, or an athletic practice or our dining hall or gymnasium in use,” says Marie Jo Thibault, Senior Director of Strategic Operations at RNS.
“This gives our tour guests an opportunity to witness things they wouldn’t necessarily see during an in-person Open House, for instance. And our Head of School, teachers, students and program leaders all participate. So, these students and families may be miles, or even continents away, but they’re able to see and experience what we have to offer.”
RNS virtual tours are being held weekly beginning November 2020 until February 2021, when prospective parents can book a time for an individual tour. A silver lining of the pandemic has been more familiarity and an increased comfort level with video-conferencing technology and the need for it.
In October, RNS gave tours to 15 students and families from places such as Montreal, Osaka and Berlin.
“Connecting virtually and showing what life is really like on our 125-acre campus and in our school community has really piqued interest levels,” says Paul McLellan, Head of School at RNS. “We’ve adapted and embraced technology so we can communicate in a way that’s safe and effective. That’s important for empowering parents to make choices that are right for their families. These tours help them make informed decisions during a unique time in our global history.”Live Around the World From Rothesay, N.B.
It isn’t just the recruitment team that’s taking advantage of virtual technology – the fine arts department at RNS is making good use of it too. Instead of being held live in the theatre, this year’s musical performance, High School Musical Jr., will be streamed to families all around the world.
“We’re working with a mixture of recorded video and live streaming to present this year’s show,” says Dayna Ellis, the RNS Musical Director. “The kids are excited to participate in something that feels normal and fun, with a little twist, and are really looking forward to sharing their talents on screens big and small.”
This kind of innovation and creativity is at the heart of RNS. “Our core values are character, courage, creativity and community. The staging of our musical this year is evidence of a group of staff and students embracing change, including the community, and creating a highly entertaining show in a safe and responsible manner, during a pandemic,” says McLellan.Virtual Parent-Teacher Interviews
When RNS decided to hold its parent-teacher interviews virtually this year – doubling the scheduled interview hours – international families signed up in droves.
“The increased time together opened the door to understanding just how easy it is for parents and teachers to stay connected, and the student is the person who wins when that’s the case,” says McLellan.Interactive, 3D Tours
RNS will be offering 3D virtual tours by mid-November, featuring key areas of its campus.
“Wondering what the art studio looks like? Want to take a stroll through campus? Can you see yourself here? The 3D tours are a lively, engaging representation of our space,” said Thibault. “Families tell us all the time that their visit was the deciding factor in applying for admission. We’re still offering that special experience, which is a truly meaningful first step on the journey to becoming part of the RNS family, just now from the comfort of home.”
The school’s upcoming virtual Open Houses will be held on November 20 and December 4. Sign-up can be found on the school’s website at www.rns.cc/openhouse
While events may not be the same as before the pandemic, Rothesay Netherwood School is committed to providing a unique and exceptional experience.
“We’re embracing change and moving forward because as a school with a history of more than 140 years, it’s our obligation to educate, adapt and excel – teaching and learning is what we do,” said McLellan.