Each year, the Proctor community welcomes new faculty and staff to campus over the summer months. Wednesday evening, Head of School Mike Henriques and his wife, Betsy Paine, hosted a wonderful dinner for new faculty and staff at their home on campus. The energy among the new adults in the community this summer has been palpable and everyone is visibly excited for our first students to arrive on campus next week.
In a recent note to teachers, Dean of Faculty Karl Methven referenced Douglas Heath’s 1994 book Schools of Hope, in which Proctor’s approach to education is heralded as a model for others to follow. Each year, Proctor’s faculty recommits to our philosophical roots, with a renewed understanding of Proctor’s approach to education, and a deeper appreciation of why the Proctor Experience has been, and continues to be, the most effective way to educate teenagers.
Ask any of Proctor’s Social Science teachers about Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and they will eagerly offer an explanation of social contracts and the rationale for forming communities around agreed upon rules and structures in order to preserve life and liberty. Whenever we join a community (nation, state, town, school, church, service club, or otherwise), we voluntarily sacrifice some of our individual freedoms because we believe the benefits gained from living in community outweigh the cost of forgone individual rights. Each of us makes this same decision when we join the Proctor community.
Over the past few months, I’ve been listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, Revisionist History. Maybe it’s because of my love for basketball and fascination with the statistics Wilt Chamberlain was able to amass during his career, but Gladwell’s episode The Big Man Can’t Shoot struck a chord with me as we prepare for the upcoming school year and the work we will begin with our students in less than a month.
Prospective students and their families may be asking themselves why, after 45 years, does Proctor still conduct a Wilderness Orientation for every incoming student. The complexities of the operation are significant, as are the human and physical resources necessary to bring roughly 120 students and 30 faculty members into the White Mountains for five days and nights of hiking, backpacking, and camping. There must be a safer, easier, less stressful way to introduce students to a new school community, right?