In a small community like ours, we assume we know each other. We mistakenly tie an individual's identity to that which we see on a daily basis: their personality in the dorm, in the classroom, their smile as they walk to lunch or assembly, their athletic talents, their style based on how they dress. We assume we understand and appreciate the entirety of each other's contribution to the Proctor community, and yet during this final week of each trimester, we are left with a powerful reminder of the depth of being that exists within each member of our Proctor family.
We can talk about moral victories (I’ve been a part of plenty of those…) all we want, but each time we step foot on the field, we seek to defeat our opponent. And yet there are times our opponent is superior; he or she simply scores more goals, runs faster, and hits harder. When the scoreboard favors the opponent, as it did this past weekend, have we failed? The implicit goal of any athletic competition is winning, but the way in which we compete must always remain our true measure of success. With that framework in mind, Holderness Weekend 2018 was a smashing success.
Over the past ten weeks, athletes and coaches have worked tirelessly to help their teams become the best version of themselves. They have battled through the rainiest fall we can remember, keeping in clear focus the core understanding at Proctor that athletics merely one means through which we pursue our mission as a school. It is the journey, not just the results, that effects change at Proctor. While we are thrilled with the post-season potential for our girls' and boys' soccer teams, as well as the outstanding finishes in league competition for our mountain bikers, cross country runners, and crew team, we are most proud of the effort and commitment our students and coaches demonstrated each afternoon.
The Wise Center was packed Thursday evening for Proctor’s fourth annual Fall Term Innovation Night. Social Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Culture and Conflict students shared their research, business plans, and progress on their robots with the community. Whether the subject matter was programming a robot to gather and distribute orbs into a specific location, researching the care of pregnant women in the prison system, or developing a business plan to sell and distribute imperfect produce to food deserts, this culminating celebration provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to take the uncomfortable role of teacher.
For the past eleven weeks, we have operated in our own sphere, working incredibly hard to do our best work in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the studio. Focused on our individual work, individual needs, deadlines, demands. Periodically, we come together for community moments, but too often it seems these moments center around tragedy: processing the loss of a loved one, supporting each other through unthinkable violence, discussing the hard truths around inequality in our lives. As we walk through this final week of classes of the Fall Term, our focus shifts to coming together as a community to celebrate all the good that surrounds us.
Early in his career former Proctor Academy Head of School Lyle Farrell (1952-1971) worked alongside Dr. Samuel T. Orton to pioneer the psychometrics and pedagogy of reading disabilities. Farrell would take what he learned from Orton and establish the nation's leading tutorial support system for college-bound, dyslexic students in the early 1950s at Proctor. Through intentional programming aimed at helping young dyslexic boys, the predecessor to Proctor’s Learning Skills program changed countless young people’s lives.
I was met by pigtail braids bouncing up and down as my daughter sprinted to the door asking me through her gap toothed, kindergarten smile to guess what she learned at school today. Before I could formulate a witty response, she blurted out, “Fair is not the same as equal!” I’ve always known this to be true, but how often do we fully appreciate our privilege relative to those around us? How often do we really wrestle with the difference between fairness and equality as it applies to our own lives? Living and working at a private boarding school in a quintessential New England town, I would submit it is not often enough.