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.
We never want to become a school where isolated pockets of academic novelty trump the whole of the work done in our classrooms. We simply want to be who we are, to be who we have always been, long before buzzwords like innovation, maker-spaces, and collaboration saturated our lexicon. We want to be a school where these buzzwords happen naturally through the work we do with our students.
Over the past decade, a shift toward competency based education (CBE) has flooded the world of higher education as universities look to become more efficient in developing a graduate’s skill set while ensuring each student possesses baseline proficiencies. Plenty of obstacles exist to implementing a competency-based educational model in higher education, however, Proctor’s World Language Department continues to pioneer a rethinking of the traditional approach to assessing and evaluating student development used by most high schools.
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?
Last evening I watched the late innings of a baseball game against St. Paul’s School. It was a tight one, the score see-sawing back and forth. We’re up, they’re up, then we’re catching up. The sun cut shadow from trees to the west, the outfield was a deep green, the chatter of the benches (and some rowdy fans from Carr House) peppered the evening. I could lean against the white fence near the right field foul pole, my favorite spot on a perfect evening. I could lean against that fence on evenings like that - baseball, no bugs, no wind, warm enough for just a light fleece - for hours.
Patches of grass have begun to emerge around campus where the persistent late-March sun has repeatedly beat away at layer upon layer of snow. Pathways are swept, sand recycled to be used again next winter, playing fields plowed for the spring season. Mother Nature probably has one more snow storm in her, but our sights are firmly set on spring. As we prepare to turn the calendar to April, we are reminded of the rebirth that takes place this time of year and the opportunity for a fresh start for each of our students.
Little by little the days are getting longer. This week’s sun and warmer temperatures have buoyed our spirits and put a noticeable bounce in everyone’s step. Overnight rain and ice reminded us how closely tied our emotional state can be to the barometric pressure. As we look toward the final three and a half weeks of the Winter Term, we lean into the scaffolding of support that surrounds each of us at Proctor.
In the midst of the daily grind of teaching adolescents, we risk drifting away from our “why”. Why have we dedicated our life to education? Why have we chosen Proctor as the fertile ground into which we will sow our seeds of hope for the next generation? In order to best serve our students, we must nurture daily habits of centering around our “why” as individual educators and as a community.