SPOTLIGHT – JANINE KNAPMAN
Janine was born in Wakefield, but spent most of her life in the West Country. Janine met her husband, Geoff, when they were teenagers and have been happily married for 42 years. She had dreams of becoming an airhostess, but living in North Devon could see that that was never going to happen. She has enjoyed a varied career and has tried her hand at, amongst other things, a farmer's wife, banking, catering, librarian and a school photographer! Janine and Geoff discovered boarding life when an old friend, who was Headmaster of a school in Essex, asked them if they would like to become Houseparents’ to his boy’s boarding house. A move to Haberdashers Monmouth School for Girls followed, then Bruton School for girls and finally, Housemistress of Stratton at Warminster.
How long have you worked at Warminster?
I came to Warminster in September 2006. Eleven years – I cannot think where all those years have gone!
What’s the best thing about your role?
I have always regarded my role as a privilege; spending so much time with young people (out of the classroom) at such an impressionable time in their lives. It is also a daunting thought as the things you say and do, may stay with an individual for the rest of their lives and this is a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. So I have always tried to treat those in my care with the same respect and care as I try to give my own family. So far, so good!
Describe a typical day?
The thing I love about my job is that no two days are the same! It can start with waking up the House at 7.00am to working in the office, meeting parents, praising girls, cooking Geoff and myself a meal (always has to be something quick!) counselling girls, making sure the House is running as smoothly as possible and hopefully in bed by 11:30pm.
What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?
There is a warm sense of community at Warminster and a respect for each other. This is something that is not always present in every school and therefore should be cherished.
The Prefects of Stratton House organised a surprise black tie leaving dinner for you. What did you enjoy the most, once you had recovered from the shock?
The feeling of being 'at home' with good friends, colleagues and my girls around me. The kind words that I am really not sure I deserve were lovely and it makes the long hours and difficult times worth it.
Any words of advice for Barbara Mitterrutzner, who is taking over the running of Stratton House in January?
Always show you care first, listen and get to know the girls and staff. Use your common sense and have fun, it is a great job!
What would surprise us about you?
I have kept pigs, have milked cows and driven tractors! Also, I have danced in Swan Lake for a TV production.
What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?
Headmistress. As I would like to meet new and prospective parents and be able to give everyone longer holidays!
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Being an airhostess was top of the list, but also nursing was an ambition. However, probably the most import thing and sadly not always given the high priority it deserves, was just wanting to be a mother of a large family and bringing up my children in the best possible way. I guess you could say I have achieved my greatest ambition, except the children are not all mine! Over the years I must have helped to look after hundreds of children of all ages and boys as well as girls. It has been challenging, there have been sad issues to deal with as well as happy ones, but overall, I have really enjoyed every moment.
What did your school reports say about you?
In the ‘good old days’ school reports were not much more than one word per subject and mine said mostly ‘good’. I never really enjoyed many academic subjects and if I compare the teaching and opportunities I had to those the pupils receive here, my education was very different.
Your note/advice to teenage self?
To be more confident with who I was.
To practice the piano more often!
To be less critical of myself.
Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can get done today.
Treat others as you would wish them to treat you.
Hidden ambitions still to achieve?
To do the zip wires of Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada. And learn to paddle board.
A favourite possession you would save from a fire?
Of course I would save Geoff, but after that, family photos especially those of family members who are no longer with us.
People who are insincere or pretentious. And speed cameras!
I do not have a favourite as I enjoy classical, choral, as well as more modern. However, I dislike jazz!
I love shopping for new clothes and a nice glass of wine.
MasterChef signature dish?
Sunday roast – I love nice crispy roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings with any roast!
Favourite TV programme?
EastEnders – sorry! I also love to hate it. When we had a boy’s boarding house, they were avid watchers and I got dragged into watching it, so unfortunately got hooked.
I also really like any cookery shows as I love cooking. Something I look forward to returning to once I retire as I am very out of practice!
Last book you read?
I am afraid to admit I do not enjoy reading as I cannot sit still long enough. So the last books I read were probably the Janet and John series I learned to read in primary school!
Last movie watched?
James Bond. When you are a Housemistress and work unsociable hours you never get the chance. Plus the best films are always screened during term time. This is something else I am looking forward to being able to do again.
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
I think Julie Walters or Meryl Streep as they are good at playing women who are slightly batty!
Favorite place/city in the world and why?
Vancouver, Canada mainly because my son and his family live there but it is such a beautiful place and so many things to do and see.
Twitter or Facebook?
I have no time for social media and I don’t really think I miss much. It is good for keeping in touch with friends who live a long distance away, but otherwise, as far as I can tell it means yet more time glued to a screen and not taking enough notice of the people around you.