During the busyness of the academic year, we crave the pause offered during Winter Break where campus is quiet and we can refocus on the 30,000 foot perspective of why we exist as a school. We know our daily work is valuable, we see incremental progress toward our goals, and we see tangible student growth, but without moments of reflection, the context and "why" of this work can too easily be lost.
The nature of the academic year sometimes causes us to forget all that has happened in the last calendar year. A look back chronologically at the past calendar year through highlighted blog posts from each month allows us to relive some of the best moments from the second half of the 2018-2019 school year and the most memorable events of the 2019-2020 academic year to date. Sit down and scroll through the images, click on the links, and read the stories below to remind yourself of all the good you have been part of as a member of the Proctor family during 2019. Here's to an equally powerful 2020!
Our family’s favorite holiday movie is the 2018 version of Dr. Suess’ The Grinch. This animated film, more than any other we have watched, speaks to reason we celebrate this season. Unlike other versions of the story, the writers offer a more complex look at the trials of Donna Who as a struggling single mom raising three young children, the loneliness of the Grinch rooted in his complicated past, the persistent optimism of Mr. Bicklebaum, the selfless love and mischievous grit of Cindy-Lou. It reminds us that while we are each imperfect and our existence messy, we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. We are more capable than we believe.
I am up early on Friday morning, 4:30ish, thinking about the start of the break, listening to the wind push down from the north. It’s cold, seven degrees outside. Some students have left already, the majority are leaving today, and a few will be around for holiday tournaments, finding their way home this weekend. In the early dark, with coffee and the dog on the sofa next to me, I look at the tree.
Students depart for Winter Break on Friday, December 20, however, many skiers and the varsity boys' and girls' hockey and basketball teams will be in action over the weekend and into the break. Be sure to follow Proctor Athletics on Twitter for game scores and highlights, and if you happen to be in the vicinity of any games or races, our Hornets could always use your support!
Proctor Academy's Mountain Classroom program began their ten-week cross country immersion learning experience in New Hampshire. After three days of driving, four days backpacking on Cumberland Island, and three days canoeing and camping in the Okefenokee Swamp, the group departs for winter break. Read more about the group's first three weeks on the road below.
Three years ago, Proctor art curator Molly Leith connected with renowned sound artist, Spencer Topel, about designing an installation for the atrium of the Fowler Learning Center. Originally planned as a student collaboration during Project Period 2019 last March, the complexity of the project postponed the installation until the first week of December. After a week of ropes, rigging, and detailed construction alongside Brad Hardie of Fireside Design Works, Time Lines now graces the Fowler Learning Center.
The holiday shopping experience has changed over the past decade. The days of wandering through shopping malls have been replaced with the ease of adding items to your Amazon cart, the promise of two-day shipping, and a purely transactional nature of consumption. In this transition, we have lost much of the meaningfulness associated with giving a gift to a loved one.
My default these days is to wish everyone a happy holiday. I want to be circumspect, want to honor the various celebrations that coincide with this time of year - Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa - I want to tread lightly. It happened last night at the holiday celebration in New London. There were close to 130 alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Proctor at the event at the Lake Sunapee Country Club, and amidst the good cheer and laughter and Proctor stories, holiday greetings rang out. “Happy Holidays” dominated.“Merry Christmas!” could be heard as well, but the preponderance were holiday greetings, and that’s got me thinking: to Christmas or not to Christmas?
Proximate learning does not occur without risk, but it is in those moments where students are living their education alongside the issues they are studying where world views are transformed. Tomorrow at noon, more than a third of Proctor's student body will submit applications to study abroad on one of our five term-long off-campus programs next year. Many will apply to study off-campus for the first time, while others will look to cap their Proctor experience with a second or third trimester abroad. So why is it that more than 80% of our students choose to study off-campus?
The boys’ varsity hockey team takes to the ice this season with high hopes and much enthusiasm. Under the leadership of head coach Mike Walsh and assistant coach Ian Hamlet, this year’s squad looks to continue the winning ways of the past few years under the leadership of the eight members of the Class of 2020. As the team begins the new season, they eye the difficult schedule that has them on the road for much of December and January, and they look forward to the upcoming challenges from Lakes Region opponents.
It was a breakfast joint that will remain nameless, but I can still see the coffee maker over Matt’s shoulder, and the way the waiter slipped it easily off the hot plate and filled mugs, replenished hot water for tea, scribbled an order on a small pad of paper; scrambled eggs with jack cheese, corn, hash browns and cilantro. Heaped plates, a pile of fresh fruit, toast. The tables shouldered up against one another. The kitchen about the size of a generous baker’s table. It wasn’t an airy place, but it was a comfortable place, a good cafe, an excellent breakfast spot. It was the perfect classroom.
As a coach, momentum is either your best friend or your worst enemy. If it’s your team making a run, you hear fans cheering, watch as players dial in their focus, adrenaline rushing. If your team is on the unfortunate end of momentum, you pray for a referee’s call to go in your favor, search for any stoppage of play, and then desperately call a timeout in hopes of allowing your team to regroup.
Natural learning requires the transfer and construction of knowledge. Spend time with toddlers as they explore the world around them. They touch, feel, taste, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, evaluate their findings, and then explore again. Over the last two days, faculty have engaged in professional development conversations exploring the learning cycle and how we can deepen our own understanding of how to create classroom experiences that encourage students to ask questions and pursue understanding. How do we give our students the autonomy to act, to actively question the world around them? How do we pursue our best selves?
Ocean Classroom 2019 is complete, but the memories and friendships will carry on. While the crew of 21 Proctor students has now been home for just over a week, and will be welcomed by a fresh foot of snow on campus when they return Tuesday evening for the Winter Term, they will have these blog posts, Ship's Logs, and thousands of photos to bring them back to the Caribbean waters of Puerto Rico, St. John, and St. Croix. A big thank you to Ocean Classroom educators Matthew Ecklund, Claire Callahan, and Holly Buresh for capturing photos, student writing and video along the way.