Advisory Dinners are some of the best evenings of the semester, though scheduling them is not easy. Last Wednesday night my advisees came over for a meal, but we had to balance a JV Girls Soccer game at 4:00 pm, Open Gym at 6:15 pm for a basketball player, extra-help for a math student, and the time I needed to clean up my house, bake a lasagna and frost a birthday cake. I try to do a dinner for each advisee’s birthdays, letting them choose the meal and the kind of cake they desire, a tradition left over from my childhood. (My brother always chose fish-sticks, my sister never failed to opt for spaghetti.)
With November 6 quickly approaching, the word ‘midterms’ sparks an immediate reaction: an opportunity to change course. Operating on a trimester system, Proctor has officially passed the midpoint in the Fall Term, and with that achievement, numeric and effort grades have been assigned in each course. Last weekend’s parent/teacher conferences afforded a valuable check-in on each student, and today’s release of mid-term grades should reinforce the larger dialogue around each student’s growth.
Today’s blue skies, warm sunshine, and clear pathways will soon give way to more than an inch of rain and unseasonably warm temperatures tomorrow and Friday. The weather patterns this winter have been changing at the same breakneck speed with which we navigate the Winter Term at Proctor. Sunrises, classes, assembly, afternoon programs, races, games, rehearsals, extra help sessions, study hall, college counseling meetings, sunsets blur into a life that is equal parts invigorating and exhausting. In order to set our eyes on the invigorating, and not solely on the exhausting, we must intentionally carve out time to press pause and connect with each other.
As we approach the end of September, students have navigated their first major assessments in their classes and have settled into a rhythm at Proctor. This week and into next, parents, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, and students will begin to receive the first Official Notes from classroom teachers reflecting on these first few weeks of class. The short, informative comments included in these notes provide insights to each student’s recent performance in class, but more importantly, serve as the foundation of an on-going narrative we use to engage students in reflection upon their own growth.
Comprehending the complexity of the role the advisor plays within Proctor’s educational model can only be fully understood once a family has experienced the relationship first hand. We fully recognize this is not the cliche` pitch of "You have to see it to believe it!" prospective families want to hear, but we feel strongly the only way to fully appreciate the role of the Proctor advisor in your life is to live it yourself. In the meantime, here is an open letter to incoming families from a Proctor advisor.
At Proctor, we care deeply about the relationship between the advisee and the advisor. We value the time we spend together each day in advisory, assembly, and at school events. Our advisory groups become safe havens where we talk about the issues on campus, the plans for the next trimester, or the upcoming dance. Sometimes we meet at the dining hall, at the Wise, or in a faculty home, and it is always good when there is food. Advisory provides a chance to slow down, have a conversation, or laugh together. For me, it is my favorite time of the day.
We talk often about the importance of relationships in education. It is perhaps the most difficult quality of a school to articulate through a website or blog. A school’s culture is something so wholly unique, students must be immersed in it to truly appreciate it. At Proctor Academy, we believe the boarding school relationships formed between faculty advisors and students are central to sustaining the school culture that makes Proctor so special.