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.
In a recent conversation with Ethney McMahon P'16, '20, our videographer, she mentioned the following that struck me. "I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to float into classrooms and onto athletic fields at any time. It’s a free pass to observe this community, up close, in its continual making. I see teachers and students in their element as much as I see them out of their element."
I was sitting today...processing January...yes processing January. When you have -18 degrees one day, 52 degrees and 2" of rain with flooding a week later, challenges with discipline, challenges with relationships, and challenges in class, yet simultaneously seeing students produce beautiful writing, art, music, comedy, (even a yo-yo master), and then celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. while tackling the challenges we still face as a nation when it comes to freedom and equity, you must process January.
In the fall of 1968, Dick Bellefeuille arrived on campus with his wife, Helen, and his young family. Along with serving as the dorm parent in Mary Lowell Stone, Mr. Bellefeuille (as he was always known by students) taught Spanish and coached reserve football, skating club, and lacrosse. Over the next thirty-two years (1968-1999), he would expand his teaching role to the science and math departments and become Proctor’s first athletic trainer in the 1980s. Through these varied roles, his career impacted thousands of students’ lives and left an indelible mark on the Proctor community. On December 28, Dick passed away at home in Concord, New Hampshire under the care of hospice.
The past twelve months have reminded us, once again, of the power of a school community like Proctor. We have felt the purest of joy and deepest of sadness as we have, together, navigated the rollercoaster of life. As we prepare to usher in 2018 with open arms, we take a few minutes to look back at a few of the most powerful moments of 2017 via Instagram. Enjoy!
On Monday night of this week, I leaned against the door frame in the gym to watch the boys’ varsity basketball team run through shooting drills, conditioning drills, passing drills, defensive drills. I watched the coaches - Gregor and Scott - wave, whistle, and encourage. On Wednesday I sat at a lunch table while the girls’ varsity hockey coaches - Maggie and Doug - discussed the line strategy they would employ against Middlesex, which resulted in a thrilling win in the last seconds of the game. I chatted with Buz about his upcoming trip to Quebec with Nordic skiers and he talked about waxing (always waxing). In mid-afternoon, I watched Junior and Lindsay coach their team to victory against a strong KUA squad. At dinner I saw David Salathé with a radio still clipped in to bib ski pants in the Brown Dining Commons after spending the day with USSA/FIS skiers up at Bretton Woods.
Too often, we navigate this life of ours assuming we will be given tomorrow. We make plans for ourselves, for our families, set goals for the future. We, as we should, approach our daily life through a lens of hope, allowing ourselves to be inspired by what is possible as we push aside ‘worst case scenarios’ because we don’t want to let ourselves live in fear. And then tragedy enters our world. Optimism is dashed. The layered weight of grief consumes us. Today, we share with heavy hearts the passing of Lindsey Degon: a faculty member, sister, daughter, girl friend, mentor, friend, and fierce advocate for many of our students.
As students settle into a rhythm within their academic classes, our hope is they become increasingly willing to take risks, to speak out, pursue a line of thinking, and embrace failure as a step in the right direction. This desired academic vulnerability take times to emerge as its foundation rests in a mutual trust among students and teacher, but as we approach the mid-point in the Fall Term, we look to the collaborative work being done within our English and Social Science departments as an example of what risk taking should look like in the classroom.