The soul of a school is less tied to a physical place than it is to those with whom you share experiences in that space. An aerial shot of Proctor’s campus from the 1960s represents a skeleton of the physical plant supporting Proctor’s 370 students today. But the soul of Proctor? The soul of a school does not live in buildings, it lives in those connections made in dormitories, on athletic teams, with advisors, teachers, coaches, dorm parents. Ask any alum who attended Reunion 2018 this weekend, whether from the Class of 1953 or the Class of 2013, and they will tell you unequivocally the soul of Proctor and its faculty and staff (past and present) is alive and well.
Stewarding a community like Proctor is never the task of an individual, but rather the responsibility of every person whose life has intersected the school. Whether you consider yourself an alum, a student, a parent, a faculty or staff member, a grandparent, or a parent of an alum, your stewardship of the Proctor community matters. Today’s celebration of the Class of 2018 at Proctor’s 170th Commencement was a reminder of how the collective work of everyone in the Proctor community, past and present, has shaped Proctor into the perfectly imperfect place it is today.
The role of parents within a boarding school community has changed dramatically over time. Until the 1970s, parents “sent” a child to an independent school, entrusting the educational, moral and spiritual development of their son or daughter to the masters. A report card documenting progress and disappointments arrived by mail at the end of a term.
Our Admissions materials encourage students to choose their own path. While this customized approach to education is central to our model, the benefit to the Proctor community is not a bunch of individuals blazing their own trails. Instead, when students join the Proctor, they simultaneously contribute to, and are supported by, the community surrounding them. Through connections to others, students find themselves and are empowered to grow in ways they never thought possible. Weekends like this one are testament to the efficacy of Proctor's educational model as we enjoy the richness this type of diversity of talents and passions brings to our community.
There is always this week. Garry George shows up outside of Maxwell Savage with a pallet of bricks, a saw to cut through asphalt, a shovel and some fine grit fill. On each brick is the name of a member of the class of 2018. The ground is prepared, the bricks are set, the tamping is done, and by the end of the day the new section of walk is complete. Seniors start to drift by and pause to look for their name and the names of friends. It’s one of the rituals in the final week.
This past weekend was the fourth and final meeting of Proctor’s Board of Trustees for the fiscal year. In addition to approving the budget, discussing upcoming Campaign for Proctor initiatives, understanding the ever-changing dynamics of the boarding school admissions market, ensuring they are meeting their fiduciary responsibility with regard to financial decisions the school makes, the Board has a responsibility to ensure Head of School Mike Henriques and Proctor’s faculty and staff are best serving each of our students. It’s a remarkable leadership responsibility, and despite the frequent laughter from the Proctor Room over the weekend, is not a responsibility this group takes lightly.
April flood waters from the Blackwater River have gradually receded in response to this week's sunshine as spring peepers scream “pick me pick me” from the wetlands surrounding campus. As I jogged across Carr Field toward the nearly full moon cresting the eastern horizon behind Gannett House during a post dinner run last night, an uncharacteristic summer-like humidity hung in the air. The peepers' relentless calls drowned out U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" playing on my headphones. I strained to hear Bono’s lyrical spiritual journey as I reflected on the dichotomy of the lack of isolation I feel in my existence at Proctor and that which is clearly felt by the vast majority of individuals in our society.
As we prepare for another 60 families to arrive on campus tomorrow morning for our second Admissions Revisit Day, we can’t help but pause to consider: What attracts a family to a school like Proctor? We shared THIS POST earlier this winter as we looked at the different “pain points” we solve for families, but we also need to think on a grander scale in order to truly answer this question. Families are flocking to Proctor in record numbers because the intangibles of a Proctor education align with what our world needs most right now: good people.