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Bangkok Faces: Laura Axtell, Ruamrudee International School

Your Name: Laura Axtell, aka Mama Two
Your Title: Resident Coordinator – Ruamrudee International School

What is your nationality and background?
I’m an American who has lived in Bangkok for three years. My first career was as a social worker and I transitioned to education after working with teenagers. I served as a teacher and Principal in a high school while obtaining a second masters degree in counseling. I also owned an assessment and tutoring center for six years. I have been working in schools and programs for adolescents for almost 25 years.

What is your profession?
I am currently the Resident Coordinator at The Residence @ Ruamrudee International School. Although RIS is the second oldest international school in Bangkok, founded in 1957, it did not have a boarding program. Three years ago, we developed The Residence so that international students could live on campus while attending RIS.

What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
I think that there are two sets of skills and responsibilities. The first and most important is that of a parent. I am responsible for the safety and security of 32 teenagers as well as their emotional well-being. The second set of skills is that of a teacher: assisting students with homework, developing life skills, applying for university, and everything in between.

How did you get involved in your profession?
I worked as a camp counselor for 5 years during college and knew that I loved working with young people. I was also a foster parent for two girls who are now in their thirties. In my role as an administrator with youth programs, I gained experience in residential programs. My role at RIS combines all of my experiences as mother, teacher and counsellor.

How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
My nickname is “Mama Two” because I am the students’ guardian while they are away from home. I would like to think that everything we do at The Residence enhances our students’ lives. We have the very important role of assisting with physical, social, academic, and emotional development during a critical time period. It is essential to listen to students and help them to find their way to a balanced and meaningful life.

What challenges do your face in this role?
Young adults have a lot going on in their lives and it is challenging to make sure that every student gets what they need. I think the greatest challenge is finding enough time to accommodate everyone’s requests and still have time for fun. My role is 24 hours a day, just like a parent, so when a child is not feeling well or is upset about something I, along with my team, are there to help.

What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
I think that most teachers and counselors want to provide the most positive experiences for students as they grow up. I hope to achieve a very successful and sustainable program that will serve as a model for boarding at international schools.

Who or what inspires you?
My mom has always been my biggest inspiration; my work ethic and capacity for nurturing comes from her. I am also inspired by the hundreds of young adults who I have been fortunate to work with over the years.

Only a Bangkok local would know…
I love all the restaurants along Sukumvit Soi 11 and the Alley. There is everything from an American diner to Australian, Irish, Italian. There is also a Peruvian sky bar at Above 11 which offers a great view.

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