When asked by old friends or new acquaintances what I do for a living, I usually state, “I work at a prep school in New Hampshire.” Most have a general sense of what a prep school is, and I am able to navigate the confusion accompanying my explanation that a boarding school like Proctor is far different than the image they have in their heads from Dead Poets Society or Hogwarts. Unintentionally, the ambiguity of my answer understates the complexity of the "prep" that takes place with our students here.
On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared a national celebration of Armistice Day, a day Calvin Coolidge would describe in 1926 as, "A day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." President Eisenhower would later change the name Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 recognizing all those who had served in the US Armed Forces. For the 99th year, we will observe Veterans Day as a country tomorrow, but like many federal holidays, Proctor does not cancel classes, and business continues as usual. In the midst of our busyness, we want to pause and recognize those who have served our country.
Earlier this week, we published the 2017-2018 Greenbook (Proctor’s Student Handbook) and sent a series of permission forms to parents to complete in advance of the upcoming school year. This process takes place each summer, both for returning and new families, and serves as an important acknowledgement of the rules, expectations, and boundaries essential to sustaining the Proctor community. The temptation for some might be to glance over the forms, identify where to sign or initial, and click submit. To check the box and move on with summer plans. Our hope is this process is a bit more intentional because we recognize joining a community, especially a community like Proctor, is not something you should take lightly.
Flying over the South of France only 9 days ago was the first glimpse I got of the mountains and the surrounding water of the Mediterranean Sea. Was I really here? When I was offered the spot on this wonderful program only a little over a month ago I had many things running through my mind. Excitement. Disbelief. Fear. Could I make this possible? Could I go?
The Profile of a Proctor Graduate describes the traits we hope each graduate possesses as they leave Proctor and move into other communities. In order to take these characteristics with them, students must first be exposed to how they are put into action here. Today was a day driven by core values as the effort of students, faculty, and staff allowed Proctor to serve as the host to the 2nd Annual Rail Trail Rally.
Perhaps the most critical task any organization undergoes is regular self-reflection. While some may avoid this process because they are afraid of what they will see, Proctor has chosen to embrace self-reflection because we know how much better we might be able to be. Over the past five years, we have developed a Profile of a Proctor graduate, agreed upon a set of characteristics of good teaching to which we strive, conducted a NEASC self-study, undergone a faculty/trustee retreat, and developed a strategic plan that reaffirms our deep commitment to experiential education, off-campus programs, and brain-based learning.
I am thrilled to be the one that gets to write about our final week on European Art Classroom. As the term comes to a close, there is sadness but also cheerfulness around the house. I think I speak for everyone that we are all excited to be going home, but we are also sad that this great adventure whipped by and has come to an end. Secretly, deep down we know that after a few days of being at home, we will start to miss our second home in Aix.