Proctor in Costa Rica affords a language and cultural immersion experience to Proctor sophomores every winter and spring. Studying at the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde, Costa Rica and living with local host families, students not only learn an incredible amount of Spanish and continue their regular sophomore level courses, but immerse themselves in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world.
I could not have come close to anticipating the level of beauty we encountered this weekend. After spending two days exploring the city of Barcelona, we left for our lovely rental house nestled away in the Catalonian countryside. Although I was reluctant to leave Barcelona behind, this new location would prove to be one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited.
We have a choice as an independent school:
- Create a facade that we are a perfect school community in order to attract prospective families and hope they don’t see our flaws too soon. OR
- Present openly the challenges that accompany educating 370 adolescents in a boarding school setting within an incredibly competitive boarding school market.
It happens all the time. I am walking from my house to the office, maybe one of the shortest commutes in New England, and in the brief stroll from house to Maxwell Savage, inevitably there are scraps of litter, refuse tossed up on asphalt shore lines from the window of a passing car. The rolling, casual wave of a hand (that I never see) leaves behind beer cans, cigarette stubs, water bottles, candy wrappers, plastic bags. The colored bits of trash sprout like a 21st century algae bloom amidst Route 11’s shoulder grit. Wasn’t there yesterday, but there today.
A few summers ago, I had the privilege of building dry stone walls with fellow faculty members Josh Norris '92 and Peter Southworth. It was hard work. Really hard work. But the results of that work were tangible. Each day, we would walk away from the job site seeing what we had built; the perfectly placed foundation rocks, tetris-like fits locking the wall into place, flat tops and square corners that made you appreciate the miles and miles of centuries-old stone walls lining New Hampshire’s woods. There was an immediate gratification with this summer job, a satisfaction that provided a welcomed contrast to the feedback mechanisms associated with teaching adolescents.
Few moments in life will match the excitement of being eight years old and diving into the imaginary world of Hogwarts alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As I read The Sorting Hat chapter aloud to my son last night, I thought about what it would be like if we tried to categorize each student into a dorm or group based on their personality, ambitions, and character upon their arrival at Proctor. How would that classification define their Proctor experience? Would it enhance or detract from their journey through high school? Do we subconsciously do this at Proctor?