House Parent

Website Houghton Academy

Private Christian School in rural Western NY

General Description:

The Head of School hires the Houghton Academy Dorm Parent to engage in a highly significant, life-shaping role in the personal development of all resident life students.  The Dorm Parent is the heart of the Resident Life Leadership Team.  When fulfilled with the right attitude, motivation, and developed skill set, serving as a Dorm Parent should be a life-impacting experience for the Dorm Parent and all the students under his/her influence.

Ministry Description Summary:

The Houghton Academy employee has a calling to serve God as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is assured of personal worth and professional competence, both being in balance with the Scriptures; who leads a consecrated life before the Lord, co-workers, students, and parents, and is a committed follower of Jesus Christ. The employee shows high professionalism and responsibility in fulfilling their ministry as an employee of Houghton Academy.

Reports To:

Boarding Program Director


Based on this job description, the Boarding Program Director evaluates the Dorm Parent’s performance regularly and annually.


A Dorm Parent must:

Be a mature and vibrant believer with a growing personal faith in Jesus.
Have lifestyle patterns based on Biblical principles and practices.
Be a role model worthy of emulation by the students.
Be organized, timely, and capable of reliable follow-through.
Exhibit self-control and use good judgment.
Practice the “no surprises” rule. Be proactive, plan, and be prepared for multiple possible outcomes in your life with students.
Be emotionally stable and capable of working with inevitable student highs and lows.
Remain approachable and open to conversations initiated by students.
Be capable of ensuring students complete their dorm life (cleaning chores, lights out, curfew, etc..) and academic (homework, schedules, meetings, etc..) responsibilities without “nagging,” becoming a “pushover,” or becoming harsh. Instead, use “relational capital” and clear, understandable, and consistent communication to accomplish goals.
Be capable of being entrusted with critical responsibilities.
Be capable of showing empathy for students who are sick or struggling with issues.
Learn, understand, and implement the necessary steps when noticing warning signs.
Become CPR certified.
Be capable of supporting and monitoring school discipline on students.
Be capable of learning, understanding, and implementing proper procedures during emergency or life-threatening situations.
Be capable of always thinking safety first and leading student activities accordingly.
Have a servant’s heart and willingness to do whatever is necessary.
Be capable of teaching basic life skills (organization, prioritization, scheduling, etc.).
Gravitate towards students and tend to initiate conversations.
Be relational towards and seek to build healthy mentoring relationships with students.
Be transparent in sharing concerning interactions or valuable insights with supervisors.
Practice professional confidentiality by knowing how to handle information.
Retain a teachable spirit, always seeking advice from others who are more experienced.
Implement best practice student-adult interaction policies and procedures while staying above reproach within all relationships.
Make the HA school year and daily schedules work with personal and educational responsibilities.
Specific Responsibilities:

Dorm Parents have critical administrative, supervisory, and relational responsibilities.

It’s important to understand being a Dorm Parent within a residential life environment is much different than teaching or working a 40 hour a week staff job.  Dorm Parenting is parenting, and the time commitment is significant.
This means we start the second to last week in August, break for half of a Thanksgiving week, two and a half weeks for Christmas, approximately ten days for an early April Spring Break, and then finish the first week in June.  Because the Academy dorm serves international students, we continue to offer supervision during our school vacations, either in terms of staying in our Houghton dorms or traveling on school-sponsored trips (Disney in Orlando, California, Hawaii, etc.).
Depending on interest, Dorm Parents may be eligible to attend our vacation trips as a chaperone.
Dorm Parents are expected to work from late August to early June except for 20 vacation days.  These will be individually negotiated and scheduled in collaboration with the Program Director.
Generally speaking, Dorm Parents are on duty 24/7 unless the students are in school (M-F, 8 am to 3 pm). On duty does not mean being physically present with the students at all times, but it does mean being accessible in the building or off-site; we have an alternative supervisor in place.
Dorm Parents are encouraged to plan their 24/7 supervision responsibilities into degrees of accessibility.  Categories like physically in the lounge or with students, open door available, closed door and knock if something can’t wait or only in emergency status and communicate this clearly to students.
We recognize that “being on call” is a challenge for any family, and it requires careful planning to protect and maintain the Dorm Parent’s family.
Generally, you will be available to see students off to school and check on medical needs between 7:15 and 8 a.m. on school days. Let students know how to notify you of illness issues. Report as needed to the school office.
Implement a plan for school-time supervision of anyone sick and staying in the dorm.
Generally, be accessible or delegated and visible from 3-3:30 p.m. on school days when students return from classes.
Supervise or delegate daily curfews checks.  Ensure all students are checked in.
Have a visible presence at different times between 7 and 10 p.m. so students are reminded of adult presence and expectations during study time and before bed.
Supervise or delegate the bedtime and technology collection procedures for younger students.
Dorm Parents are welcome to attend and eat all meals with the Academy and University students, but they are not expected.
Dorm Parents are expected to attend at least one dinner or weekend lunch with students at the University per week.
Supervise the completion of chores on Saturday.
Supervise the plan for church attendance on Sunday.
Coordinate with your RA weekend coverage and supervisory presence from Friday pm to Sunday pm.
Take your one 3-8 pm duty evening off each week.
Plan and use your five getaway weekends throughout the year.
Within one’s overall schedule expectations outlined above, provide coverage during HA vacation times in collaboration with Dorm Parents and backups.
Participate in or lead outings (Walmart, Dollar General, Bowling, Ethnic Supermarkets, Ice Cream, etc..).  The school covers the costs of participation or food (for both self and family).
Accessibility:  Remain accessible to the Boarding Director and overall Resident Life Team by cell phone, email, and WeChat in case of emergencies or special needs.
Community:  Create a healthy, orderly, supportive, joyful, fun, and exciting environment for students in the dorm.
You should ensure a repeatable system of onboarding new students into your dorm life.  Personally, ensure your students are well cared for with great attention the first days and week.
You are responsible for celebrating successes and recognizing important events, holidays, and milestones.
You should make the dorm welcoming.
You must not tolerate any form of bullying or mistreatment of others,
You are not generally responsible for communicating with parents unless coordinated with the Boarding Director.  You do not communicate with agents.
You may not loan students money or allow the use of employee adult resources.
Academic:  Help ensure struggling students are getting connected to support.
It is critical that we all interject ourselves into the English improvement process of our Boarding Students.
Activities:  Ensure activities and programs are available to meet the holistic needs of students and that will contribute to a positive resident life.
Be a role model for enthusiastic participation.
Assist with chaperoning outings when schedules allow.
Spiritual: Be available for spiritual conversations when students show interest, and be sensitive to various spiritual backgrounds.
Dorm Parents are responsible for supervising church attendance but remember that our primary focus is not to turn church attendance into one more academic task.
Look for creative ways to create alternative and stimulating worship experiences.
Medical:  Dorm Parents are responsible:
To be CPR trained.
To know where available emergency resources are kept in the dorm.
For monitoring the overall medical health of the students in their care.
Maintaining and supervising access to medical forms, insurance cards, and approved medicines.
Overseeing students taking medicines approved by school nurses or physicians.
To do common “parenting diagnosing” of what is needed.
Use resources (school nurse, local medical facilities, Program Director, Med-help lines, local urgent care, etc.).
Consult with the Program Director as soon as possible on urgent medical situations.
Call 911 and use emergency services if the situation appears to require help.
Standards:  Orientate, educate, and hold students accountable to all dorm and school standards (behavioral, safety, cleaning, room maintenance, restroom routines, laundry, curfew, etc.).
Support and enforce the discipline implemented by the school.
You are required to report any serious violations of standards and are generally not responsible for establishing disciplinary responses.
Use careful judgment when granting exceptions to school standards.
Communication:  You must communicate, timely, reliably, and comprehensively all needed information to students.
Know and be able to use all emergency procedures and emergency contacts.
You are required to report any concerns about any form of abuse, unhealthy dependencies, depression or strong emotions, suicide concerns, unusual fears, eating disorders, sexual-related concerns or suspicions, etc., to the Program Director immediately.
You are obligated to know your legal requirements for reporting concerns.
Create and turn in written reports on any student behavior, conversations with students or any observations that cause concern to the Program Director.
Do not promise students confidentiality.  You are responsible to report/share anything of adult concern.
Meet weekly (regular time to be established) with other Dorm Parents, RA’s, and Resident Life Team.
Attend a day of orientation and training (to be mutually scheduled) before student arrivals.
Participate in pre-HA school orientation for boarding students.
Help plan and participate in our back-to-school Boarding Program Retreat.
Continually collaborate with all Student Life and Resident Life adults.
Administrative Tasks:
Ensure record keeping and building security.
Ensure cleaning supplies are stocked and available.
Ensure check-in / check-out processes at the beginning, end of the semester, and end of the year.
Ensure organization and cleanliness of lounges, kitchenette, entryway, laundry room, storage areas, and garbage removal areas using student workers.
Be actively advocate for HA and the Boarding Program and look for opportunities to share positives publicly.
Share any concerns about HA and the Boarding Program privately with the appropriate supervisors.
RAs will initiate a Quarterly Review Meeting with you to ask for feedback on their performance.  The Dorm Parents are responsible for giving the RA feedback in writing, copied to the Program Director, which includes commendations and areas of improvement.
Dorm Parents are also responsible for doing the same process with the Program Director once each semester.


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