At this year's graduation, guest speaker Luke Wood shared his thoughts on lessons he's learned over the course of his successful music career. His first point was that magic exists; there are moments when creative genius is unlocked and the result is nothing short of pure magic. These moments exist in the studio, on the athletic field, in the classroom, or simply in conversation.
We have long known there is something called "Proctor magic". We can't define it. We can't even really describe it. But if you've spent considerable time on Proctor's campus, you know it well. There is something about this school that unlocks the best in students in a way no other place seems to be able to do. More accurately, though, the magic doesn't lie within this place, but within the people who make up this community. One of the most 'magical' members of this community is Patrice Martin.
Patrice and her husband, Jon Seigel, joined the Proctor community in 1980 as a dorm parent, advisor, photography and ceramics teacher, and yearbook editor. Over the course of the next 35 years, Patrice shaped the Proctor community like few others have done in the school's history. As the 2014-2015 school year ends, Patrice enters a well-earned retirement. She will be missed terribly, but has instilled in all of us a greater appreciation for the magic that can happen at the most unforseen moments in a student's journey.
A few of her closest friends and former students share a few words in this post about what Patrice has meant to Proctor and the thousands of students who have walked through Slobumb Hall's doors.
Patrice is a teacher who pays attention, not just in the way a student may form a bowl or print a photo, but she notices all the factors that make for healthy living and learning. Her high standards are matched with compassion, wisdom, and a light-spirited sense of humor. She helps students see in the broadest sense of the word, but also as artists who can move their work from good to excellent. Her brilliance as a teacher, sage, advisor, and colleague shines in every corner.
I am aware that no matter what I write, I will never do justice to the meaning that Patrice has given to my life. Her grace and strength and influence as a teacher are too immense to capture with words, but it is a treat that I get to try.
Patrice, I showed up to learn how to make a bowl, and in theory, you were there to teach me how. But it didn't take long to realize that this lopsided bowl was just a vehicle, through which you would offer me patience, creativity, and beauty. And I can't imagine it was easy. I remember my bitter impatience! My moods. My haste. My mess. And even the dust I made when trimming bowls that had dried a day too long. But alongside all of this, I remember you, as my perpetually inspiring teacher. You pushed me to be better and allowed me to be happier. This worked, in part, because I admire and respect you so much.
High school had it's share of dark days. But that space you made, it became my refuge. One day we might mix glaze, the next you might let me cry on your shoulder, and the next you would scold me for my mess. But always, in that studio, in your company, is exactly where I wanted to be. Your words, that dust, and the light through those windows settled deep in my being and generated the person I am today.
I feel so lucky that every morning, as I eat oatmeal from a bowl I made with you, I get to think of the outsized role you play in my life. I get to remember walking in, dropping my bag, giving you a hug, and taking clay to the table. Each morning I get to remember what you gave me through those bowls—the patience, the creativity, the beauty—and I am forever grateful for all of it.
Faculty play such an important role in the Proctor experience. Encouraging, ever-enthusiastic and constantly supportive is how I recall Patrice Martin from my Proctor days. As a student with an interest in the arts, her guidance and insight helped shape who I am today, and inspired me and those that followed. Today, as I run my own ceramics-based business, I fondly remember the time she first showed me how to write out a check from my first check book. Patrice and her husband Jon Siegel remain good friends 25 years later, and maintain a supportive presence in my life. Knowing she has bettered the lives of so many makes me proud to call her a friend. I am eternally grateful for their supportive presence, and for my time at Proctor.
Patrice is one of the many faces of Proctor that so many alumni and parents know. I was lucky enough to have ceramics and photography with her as a student in the early 1980s. I loved photography so much that my Senior Project was to put together the Spring Supplement for 1983. She is one of the most patient, loving teachers that I was lucky enough to have during my time at Proctor. As a result of her teaching, I still enjoy photography today.
I have had the opportunity to be close friends with her as well. She is the kindest person and is thinking of others before herself. I have been privileged enough to run Project Period groups alongside her, and have been fortunate to witness her interact with kids in such a patient and direct way. It is the way Patrice is with everyone.
~ Alex Estin '83
Patrice Martin is a dear friend of mine. I say this in light of the fact that if we are lucky enough to have several good friends in our lives, then we are fortunate indeed. Patrice is a kind, warm, selfless, incredibly positive human being... She is a gifted artist… Beyond this, Patrice is not the type of person to seek out acknowledgement. Rather, I get the sense that it is her nightmare to be recognized and praised in a public forum. So, isn't this tribute ironic in a strange, wonderful way!
Too bad Patrice! We love you. I love you! You have given so much to the Proctor community over your tenure here. We can never thank you enough! So, take time for yourself. Take time for you and Jon. But please save a bit of time for our continued breakfast dates!
If your Proctor journey was shaped by Patrice, we encourage you to leave a comment and share your most memborable moments where she sprinkled a little "Proctor Magic" into your life!