There’s no real easy way to do this, to make this announcement. I have wrestled it, spent time journaling, talked with a few folks in a very tight circle, but it simply comes down to this: the 2020-21 school year will be my last as Head of School at Proctor Academy. It is a decision that I have come to in consultation with the Board of Trustees, and it is a decision that I have moved towards over the last six months. It is not an easy decision, but I have made it with a full measure of pride in the accomplishments of this community and complete confidence that the school has the leadership and the wisdom to continue on with its current success.
The nature of the academic year sometimes causes us to forget all that has happened in the last calendar year. A look back chronologically at the past calendar year through highlighted blog posts from each month allows us to relive some of the best moments from the second half of the 2018-2019 school year and the most memorable events of the 2019-2020 academic year to date. Sit down and scroll through the images, click on the links, and read the stories below to remind yourself of all the good you have been part of as a member of the Proctor family during 2019. Here's to an equally powerful 2020!
Our family’s favorite holiday movie is the 2018 version of Dr. Suess’ The Grinch. This animated film, more than any other we have watched, speaks to reason we celebrate this season. Unlike other versions of the story, the writers offer a more complex look at the trials of Donna Who as a struggling single mom raising three young children, the loneliness of the Grinch rooted in his complicated past, the persistent optimism of Mr. Bicklebaum, the selfless love and mischievous grit of Cindy-Lou. It reminds us that while we are each imperfect and our existence messy, we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. We are more capable than we believe.
I am up early on Friday morning, 4:30ish, thinking about the start of the break, listening to the wind push down from the north. It’s cold, seven degrees outside. Some students have left already, the majority are leaving today, and a few will be around for holiday tournaments, finding their way home this weekend. In the early dark, with coffee and the dog on the sofa next to me, I look at the tree.
It was a breakfast joint that will remain nameless, but I can still see the coffee maker over Matt’s shoulder, and the way the waiter slipped it easily off the hot plate and filled mugs, replenished hot water for tea, scribbled an order on a small pad of paper; scrambled eggs with jack cheese, corn, hash browns and cilantro. Heaped plates, a pile of fresh fruit, toast. The tables shouldered up against one another. The kitchen about the size of a generous baker’s table. It wasn’t an airy place, but it was a comfortable place, a good cafe, an excellent breakfast spot. It was the perfect classroom.
Natural learning requires the transfer and construction of knowledge. Spend time with toddlers as they explore the world around them. They touch, feel, taste, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, evaluate their findings, and then explore again. Over the last two days, faculty have engaged in professional development conversations exploring the learning cycle and how we can deepen our own understanding of how to create classroom experiences that encourage students to ask questions and pursue understanding. How do we give our students the autonomy to act, to actively question the world around them? How do we pursue our best selves?
“Voice can take a long time to come all the way out, brother.” Bobby said. “Be patient.” These words jumped off the page of Tommy Orange’s There There as John Around Him discussed the book with Proctor’s American Literature students. This notion of voice, of who has the courage (and privilege) to share their voice, and who will listen when they finally do, cuts through an American Literature curriculum to the core of how we empower students to live lives that matter.