We have officially surpassed the midpoint of summer. Sadly, just five weeks stand between us and the start of new faculty orientation, faculty meetings, and the slow build up to the start of the year. Between now and then, we will enjoy sunshine, warm temperatures, and regular swims in Elbow Pond. We will read, journal, and listen to all the podcasts we don’t have time for during the school year. We will take time to reflect on our work as educators and our role in influencing young people’s lives at Proctor.
Spend an hour during the summer months sitting in one of the hundred green Adirondack chairs sprinkled throughout Proctor’s campus and simply listen. Of course you’ll hear the sounds of birds singing their songs and frogs croaking their own tune from the pond. Listen a bit more closely and you’ll hear the steady sound of hard work: lawn mowing, weed wacking, building, constructing, fixing, and mending. While many of us enjoy a slower pace to summer, our Maintenance Team is operating at full throttle working on campus improvement projects that are unable to take place during the school year.
Spending the 4th of July in Andover, New Hampshire should be a prerequisite to understanding the value of small town living. Our little town of 2,000 people bursts at the seams as thousands of visitors flock to the village green in the heart of Proctor’s campus for a flea market and carnival-like atmosphere. At noon, local elementary students who had perfect attendance this year toll the bell in Maxwell Savage Hall to signal the start of the parade. Local fire companies, floats, and bands weave their way through campus along North Street before looping back down Main Street. The day ends as thousands more people gather on Carr Field to watch fireworks over the Proctor Ski Area.
A theme seems to be developing in our blog posts this summer. Two weeks ago we shared thoughts on the balance of disruption and vision at independent schools, and this post from last week discussed our personal investment in student growth. Regularly exploring the bigger, existential “why” of our educational model challenges us to recommit to what we believe and why we believe it.
For teachers, the rhythm of the calendar year is inextricably tied to the cycle of the academic calendar. Boarding school life amplifies those rhythms: when we are on, we are ON, and when we are off, we try to unplug and recharge. As we prepare to turn the calendar to July, we are still in the early phases of recharging, but cannot help but feel the emptiness of campus this time of year.
Each Tuesday throughout the school year, Proctor’s Development team welcomes advisory groups to their office to share information about the Proctor Fund and The Campaign for Proctor. Proctor’s financial model is complex, and while our primary perception of ourself is as a school, we are also a business that has thousands of customers and a $22,000,000 a year budget. Operating on a June 30 fiscal year, the month of June is one of the busiest of the year for our Development Office.
Irrational fears are often rooted in an experience, a moment in time when our innocence is lost or our perspective shifts drastically. I’m terrified of sailing. It is an irrational fear born of a family sail aboard our 17 foot day sailer as a young child. I don’t remember the specifics, but simply recall the sensation of lost control, of tipping on edge, of feeling helpless. For years after my father worked to help me overcome this fear, attempting to teach me how to sail, how to manage gusts of wind, explaining ad nauseam there is always an escape plan in an emergency as long as you are prepared for it.
Today it is raining (again), the mosquitos in the woods are unbearable, and the high temperature will not crack 60 degrees. Not the idyllic mid-June days we dream of during the depths of winter, but the last week has graced us with exceptional weather. Even in the rain, there is such beauty surrounding us. We need to get outside and enjoy that beauty. We need to prioritize our connection to nature, and in doing so, we will find ourselves trending toward happier, healthier, more balanced individuals.