August is knocking on the door. Tomorrow we will have to answer. And we all know that when August arrives, our focus shifts to the start of the school year: advisor letters, roommate assignments for new students, start of year faculty meetings, Wilderness Orientation prep, firming up syllabi. We cling to the hot, humid days of July, anticipating the busyness and energy that accompanies each new school year.
For the past 76 years, Andover has served as a gathering place for residents from the surrounding region as the town green in front of the Stone Chapel, Fowler House, and Gannett House are flooded with flea-market booths, games, and food vendors before the action halts for a community parade down North Street and Main Street. Roughly 10,000 visitors line the streets as we celebrate America’s independence and remind ourselves of the freedoms promised to all citizens in the U.S. Constitution.
Each fall and spring, students have the opportunity to showcase projects from classes across disciplines at Proctor’s Innovation Night. Now in its fifth iteration, the event has become an embedded part of our academic calendar and serves as a celebration and culmination of the hard work our students have been doing all term. Academic Dean Derek Nussbaum-Wagler reflected, “It provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the rich, valuable work that they have produced through our experiential learning opportunities”.
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.
I’m a planner; always have been, and despite the constant encouragement of colleagues to embrace spontaneity, probably always will be. I like to know ahead of time what is on the day’s agenda (and may or may not have a compulsion to lay my clothes out for the following day each night before falling asleep). It’s, as chemistry teacher Ian Hamlet says, “Just how my operating system works.” As such, Sunday evenings are spent looking at the week ahead and planning what Proctor narratives will emerge given scheduled events. Off-campus program blogs, Mike’s Notes, Team Spotlights, guest posts by faculty or staff all laid out in a nice orderly fashion so our team can see what gaps may exist as we try to help share the Proctor story with others.
The temperamental weather of this past week has called into question our expectations for seasonal predictability, and with Mother Nature's authority in mind, the snow, sleet, and rain held off for a few hours to allow us to make the most of Proctor's annual observance of Earth Day. Each year, students and faculty allocate a full academic day to exploring diverse and creative ways to interact with and greater appreciate the natural world around us.
Teaching can be a seriously humbling life. I can’t speak for other teachers as to why they started teaching but I assume inspiring students fits somewhere on the list for many of us. I’d love to think of myself leading the charge for my students as they learn about the world and find a path that inspires them. Many schools espouse the idea that we need to be learning for the world beyond the classroom; that part isn’t something that is unique to Proctor. The difference for us is that we have built a school that doesn’t only talk about it but makes it happen and has made it the norm for our students.