Erik Niel: Houseparent

Their Future is Our Present

The new school year begins, but for some of the girls in student home Bethune, this is the beginning of the end. Of our nine students this year, seven are fourth graders. Life at the top is good, and our girls are loving that peer respect from the underclassmen at Memorial Hall. But at the same time, the idea of Middle School is raising some nervousness and uneasiness as they prepare for their future in their next steps at MHS. Even though we are molding some great leaders here, the pressures and responsibilities of growing up are real for them, so we are working with them to get them ready for those challenges.

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Having a mostly “older” home involves a lot of activities like early morning performing arts classes, and after-school sports and clubs. We also have weekly swim time, instrument practice, holiday events and the list goes on. And somewhere in the midst of all of that, we will prepare our girls for middle division.

It will be difficult at the end of the year seeing them move on, but we are hoping that what we’ve been able to share with our students will make a lasting impression. “The Power of One,” right?

We were placed at student home Bethune in August of 2012; some of our fourth-graders were just starting first grade that year. So we have a good bit of history with these kids. What we get most from MHS’s motivation through “The Power of One” is that it works both ways. We have seen how our students progress throughout the year, even during their entire career at MHS. But at the same time, each one of those students has something to bring to the table. They are not only learning from us, but we also are learning from them.

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People will say to us, “The kids are so lucky to have you.” We quickly turn that around, and know that we are the lucky ones.

Our fourth-graders that we have watched grow up in the student home have definitely contributed positively to our MHS family. We are excited for them, that this year they will get to shine in their activities and learn to juggle their responsibilities so that they can continue to be in groups and clubs as they move up to Catherine Hall. We are looking forward to sharing their adventures and how we are using this year to fullest, doing what we can to the make the most of every opportunity with our students. This year will be the best yet! #ThePowerOfOne


Erik Niel and his wife Jacqui are houseparents of Student Home Bethune in the Elementary Division. They also have two children, Sophia and Parker.

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