It’s a good time of year to re-read the Robert Frost poem Two Tramps In Mud Time. You know the one. The narrator splitting wood in his yard, the blocks of straight grained beech falling “spinterless as a cloven rock.” The tramps walk by, not too long from having spent time in a logger’s camp, having slept who knows where, and they squint and measure the man by the way he wields the axe. You know the poem.
Over the past few months, prospective families have navigated the admissions process at a number of independent schools. While each stage of the admissions process sparks important questions, the most difficult decision for each prospective student occurs during these last days before we ask families to submit contracts for the 2019-2020 school year.
Over the past couple of weeks several students received their second “major” violation, resulting in dismissal from school. It’s been disruptive. Disruptive for the students, their families, and the community. Students who have been dismissed find themselves on the outside of Proctor looking in, and for many it is a particularly clarifying moment: invulnerability dissipates, self reflection kicks in, relationships are reassessed. Students who are dismissed can access a process that allows them to “appeal” the decision, to request that the door to the community be reopened one last time. Not all request an appeal, but most do. Is it too lenient to let students request what is essentially a third chance?
We live in fast-forward, running from one activity to the next, checking email and notifications on our phone constantly. Immersed in ourselves, our own needs, we often slip into the unfortunate pattern of comparing our own life to those around us, asking “what if” questions rather than embracing “what is”. Revisit Days help us lift out of this self-absorbed pattern as we reflect on who we are within the the context of our lives at Proctor and the imperfection that surrounds us. We become ultra-focused on the moment, a beautiful gift of self-reflection and authenticity we are rarely granted in this fast paced, image conscious world society has created.
Tomorrow, 62 accepted students and their parents will attend the first of our two Admissions Revisit Days. It will be an incredibly busy day as families attend assembly, visitors shadow classes, parents attend breakout workshops, and our current students share about their Proctor experience through panel discussions. Our unabashed goal is to present the best of Proctor, and at the same time we have the deepest desire for each visiting family to experience the authentic Proctor. This blog is for those visiting parents. It is a message as their family makes the very, very difficult decision about where they want to spend their high school years.
A week ago, a group of prospective students received notification of their acceptance to Proctor. Dozens of families have already submitted their contracts for next year; Proctor was their #1 choice and the fit between their son or daughter and our school was perfect. For the vast majority of our accepted students, the decision is not that easy. Proctor is one of a number of schools to which they were accepted, each offering amazing programs and filled with talented educators who care deeply about their work and their school. So how does Proctor stand out from the crowd? How do we ensure prospective families fully appreciate and understand the depth of the Proctor experience when weighing their options?
In this age of technology, we are processing the constant flow of information, the next notification, the next piece of news to break, soaking up the dopamine of the never-ending scroll our social media provides. Within this world of insatiable, ever present content, we forget the feeling of excitement and anticipation that accompanies awaiting. Delayed gratification is a good thing! For the roughly 175 students who have been admitted, the waiting is over!
We all deserve to experience what it is like to be a part of a great team at some point in our lives. Great teams know themselves. They understand who they are. They know their strengths, their weaknesses. Each member understands individual roles within the group, and the coach knows how to optimize the performance of the group. It really is magical to watch a team firing on all cylinders. We had a chance to watch a few of those teams this winter including the girls’ varsity basketball team as they made a run to the NEPSAC Championship game over the weekend.