Campus is quiet, for the moment. No bikes or skateboards or scooters zooming down pathways. No laughter or chatter as students pass between classes. No rushing off to our next class, meeting, assembly, or practice. Faculty have plenty of grading to do as we wrap up Fall Term assessments, but we take a collective deep breath this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.
The power of Proctor’s academic model lies in both the breadth and depth of academic pursuits. A single student’s path through Proctor may take them on multiple off-campus programs, summer internships, AP courses, Project Periods, and a summer service trip. They will customize their journey by taking a minimum of three art courses and three technology courses in addition to English, Social Science, Science, Math, and World Language classes, all while benefiting from the nation’s leading integrated academic support program - Learning Skills. Despite over 135 course offerings, individual classes do not differentiate Proctor from other independent schools. Instead, the entirety of the Proctor experience, and the collective opportunities available to students, set us apart.
At the heart of Proctor’s educational model is the belief adolescents learn most deeply when they engage hands-on with their learning. Five years ago, Proctor launched a biannual Innovation Night to elevate the great work happening in our classrooms. Each fall and spring, we gather as a community to not only celebrate the work of our students, but to learn about the important issues they are wrestling with in their classes.
After more than ten days on the open ocean, Proctor's Ocean Classroom program aboard Schooner Roseway spotted land! While this post contains Ship's Logs that are now more than a week old, we are playing catch-up from the group's transit and will include one final blog post next Tuesday with the remainder of ship's logs from the journey as the group finishes out their term at sea with a final stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday, November 22.
The average population density of the United States is roughly 87 people per square mile, but in New York City that number jumps to an astonishing 27,012 people per square mile. A rapidly changing climate will impact the 82% of US population living in cities more acutely than those living in suburban and rural areas as the urban heat island effect raises average annual temperatures by as much as 5°F in cities. For Charles Callaway ‘85, a native New Yorker, he saw an opportunity to work at WE ACT for Environmental Justice as a way to address multiple needs in his neighborhood: climate education, environmental health, and the production of good jobs to meet changing demand in the workforce.
We are a relatively small school, 370 students and 90 teachers, where we call each other by our first name. We always say hi as we pass on walkways between classes. We think we know each other. But how often do we merely assign an identity to others based on a first impression of their outward projection of self? He’s a soccer player. She’s a hockey girl. Oh, he’s a drama guy. A gamer. A skier.
Thursday morning we began our long journey to the province of Andalucía in Southern Spain. A bus, metro, and train ride later we got to the city of Granada. We had just enough time to shower and change before being thrown into the Andalucían culture in one of the most traditional ways, a flamenco performance.
I am traveling this week, criss-crossing the country from Atlanta to San Francisco, which is where I am today near Union Square. I can’t help but wander over to the Apple Store at times, venturing in to ogle the newest products. How could I not? There, on the front of the store, a huge photograph advertises the AirPod noise cancelling headphones, the newest iteration of a wildly popular little knobby white knuckles people are popping in their ears all over the world to listen to music and podcasts and to talk on the phone. I had to try them out, and I have to admit to being impressed. But this got me thinking about whether education is simply a product that goes through iterative phases. It made me a little uneasy.
Today’s blog post from Ocean Classroom serves as an account of the first half of a nearly two week transit from Charleston, South Carolina to St. Croix. Proctor’s crew of 21 students has arrived in St. Croix and we will soon post the remainder of their Ship’s Logs and more photos/video, but for now, enjoy this window into life at sea.
Ten weeks ago, preseason athletes were arriving for Sports Camp. Temperatures flirted with 80 degrees and the hopes and dreams of a season lay in the hearts and minds of Proctor’s athletic teams. Over the past two and a half months, students and coaches have worked together to form powerful relationships, goals were set and pursued, individual skill improved, and the bonds of team forged.
Usually the assembly before Holderness Day serves as a pep rally. Loud cheering and chanting, building school spirit as we prepare to make the drive north and conquer our foes. But Friday’s assembly was not that. It was far more powerful, far better preparation for what Holderness Day is really about: being vulnerable, supporting each other regardless of outcome, and daring greatly.
“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.
Each season we split into our teams and afternoon activities. We work hard to cultivate a culture within that group. We often sit with our teams in the dining hall for meals, share laughs through our group chats, and spend more hours with this group of individuals than any other. For the past eleven weeks, we have operated in our own sphere, cognizant of that which orbits around us, but largely focused on our team.
Proctor’s Ocean Classroom program has departed Charleston, South Carolina and is currently in transit to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. The nearly two-week voyage across the open sea is by far the longest of the term, and while the ship is in daily contact with the school via satellite phone, we will not be receiving Ship’s Logs updates until their arrival in St. Croix. To view their progress across the Atlantic, click HERE. In the meantime, check out a few additional entries from Savannah and Charleston below!
Sharing a meal with people you care about is an event as ancient as you can get. Breaking bread together is a symbol of forgiveness, togetherness, and a shared understanding of our humanity. It is a signal of coming together, sharing resources, and forging friendships. It is especially important in our fast paced world, where a sit down dinner can be elusive at a school like Proctor where we are all going in a hundred different directions, all good directions, but different. This past weekend we carved out time for Advisory dinners. Some had to play field hockey at New Hampton, or soccer against Bridgton, but we did our best to share a meal together, and it was a powerful experience.
I am not a social media user, but I like to stay somewhat connected to that nether world, and this week I have become more aware of a phenomena that I had only been vaguely aware of: the cancel culture. A couple of articles in the New York Times sharpened awareness of a trend that plays out from middle school to college and beyond, the act of severing ties to an individual as a result of what are perceived to be irreconcilable differences or offenses. In an age of hypersensitivity, the cancel culture has taken off. In an age of fractured communities, I find it worrisome.