Boarding Life Series: The Decock Family

Faculty family at IMS

Me, my wife Tracy, my son Tyler, and my daughter Annie.
In our time living at IMS, one thing has become evident, my family and I are happier for the time that we have spent calling IMS home. To better illustrate, here are three reasons why I could not imagine raising my family anywhere other than IMS:

1. My family’s happiness is directly connected to the IMS students we support.

When friends hear that we oversee a dorm of sixth and seventh grade girls, the reactions usually fall within two camps. The first goes something like, “People send kids that young to boarding school?!” The other response is more of shock and concern for our sanity as a young couple with our own two kids. I love these reactions, as does my wife, because it allows us to highlight why we love this life that we have carved out for ourselves.
Girls making pasta necklaces at IMS

My son making pasta necklaces with a couple of our girls.
There is no greater feeling for a parent than watching your child succeed and grow as an individual. Along with supporting and nurturing our own kids, we are accountable for eight or nine girls each year living right outside our door. Whether helping them study for a test, sharing a laugh over the viral video of the moment, or simply being there in a time of need, these moments can be inherently rewarding. They are made that much better by the successes that follow, and sometimes the lessons learned from failure. All we can hope to do is create a safe environment where these ups and downs are managed, accepted, and celebrated. It is within this miniature community that our family feels far larger and more purposeful. These connections represent something deeply important to me as a parent and member of this community.
Hair cuts in an IMS dorm

My wife giving a few hair cuts before lights out.

2. LEGOs are always more fun with your siblings.

On a typical night, my wife is in and out of the dorm with baked goodies, UNO cards, or a movie to watch after study hall. There are long nights of sewing buttons back on clothes, making weekend plans, and talking through challenges typical of the age. With these trips in and out of the dorm comes the excitement of my son, Tyler, as each trip represents an opportunity to spend time with his “big sisters.” From playing LEGO castles (and destroying them) to them feeding him inordinate amounts of candy, they care for him like big sisters and he is unquestionably a happier child for it. Each day, he wakes up knowing that right outside our door is a group of girls that cares a great deal about him and makes him happy. These connections are so important in securing a feeling of being “home” for our girls.
Girl and boy using see saw at IMS

My son, Tyler, playing with one of our girls.

3. Happiness is in the journey.

Over the past few years, the responsibility that we feel towards these girls is that of parents looking after their own children. My wife can certainly attest to the longevity of these connections, as she is constantly getting babysitting requests from girls who were once in our dorm. They are willing to give up their free time to watch our children. There is something deeply comforting about that. While each year represents an important journey for each girl, there is much joy to be found in looking at how far they have come. In our case, both the journey and destination (the end of their time in our dorm) are equally important.
It is in these moments that the benefit of living in the IMS community is found. It is hard to imagine our life without the presence of the dorm right outside our door and the IMS community beyond that. The connections that my wife and I have made with the students we work with are priceless, but the happiness that these same connections have brought my family and our dorm go beyond words.
An IMS dorm out for dinner

Our dorm from out for dinner.
Our story is far from the only one that demonstrates how important this community is to the people living in it. In posts to come, we will continue to highlight these stories, as they are a tremendous measurement of the importance IMS holds for both faculty and students, and the comfort and safety it provides them.