Each spring, Proctor’s Allan S. Bursaw Chapter of the National Honor Society inducts a group of juniors, joining a cohort of graduating seniors as academic leaders in the community. Selected by a committee of faculty, members of the National Honor Society have demonstrated excellence in the organization’s four pillars of character, scholarship, leadership, and service.
This past weekend would have been Proctor's Spring Family Weekend. Teachers and advisors would have gathered with parents to discuss student growth. We would have played games Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, seen a sneak peak at the Spring Musical during assembly, and Head of School Mike Henriques would have shared his annual "State of Proctor" conversation with families.
Like all classes this spring, Peter Southworth’s Journalism students have shifted their approach to publishing their school newspaper, The Hornet’s Nest. The virtual interviews, polls, and storytelling required of this project paralleled the in person process honed by the class during the first two trimesters, however, the compilation of this digital version as an entirely remote team required a significant evolution of those skills. Check out the full edition at the link below, and read on to explore two feature stories.
It’s been the kind of weather week the poet Robert Frost captures in Two Tramps in Mud Time, the kind of week that brings bone chilling winds off the shoulder of Ragged Mountain followed by pockets of sunshine that carry the promise of jacketless days. Grass looks almost mower ready, then snow swirls and grabs hold of Carr Field as it did earlier this week. And now I am informed by the Weather Channel that tomorrow will be a gorgeous day with temperatures near 60, only to be followed by 3-5” of snow Sunday night. It’s been a this and that, two tramps week for sure.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Conceived in the midst of social, political, and racial upheaval of 1970 when 22 million Americans took to the street to voice their concern about the way our species was treating the natural world, this celebration continues to recenter us each year on our connection with our living earth.
Having collectively faced several weeks of adjusting to an entirely unanticipated and drastically different lifestyle here on campus, our counseling team shares thoughts on how we can best cope with our new circumstances and continue to maintain a strong connection to the Proctor community while being physically distant. This new narrative we are facing is far from the one we imagined. The “supposed-tos” and “should-haves”, “wanted tos” and all of the visuals that accompany the narrative are disrupted, and, for now, unattainable. We as counselors know that a shift in our personal narrative is emotionally disruptive…a term we call dissonance. How can we collectively as the Proctor community cope?
It’s not easy finding the community fix these days. It’s not easy for faculty, not easy for staff, not easy for students. The virtual get-together gets you maybe half way there, but there’s nothing quite like the face to face. So we find it where and when we can, and I am fortunate enough to be able to duck into the kitchen now and again.
Proctor’s hands-on, face-to-face centric educational model has created unique challenges for teachers as they shift their programs to an online format. How, for example, do you turn a metal engineering class into a distance learning program? Studio art? Woodworking? Ceramics? Theater? Proctor’s Arts Department has stepped up to the challenge of transforming their typically hands-on, in-person focused courses into powerful remote learning experiences. Enjoy the following windows into our arts classes, featured student work, and reflections from our art faculty on how they are thinking outside the box this spring!
We talk often about the culture of lifelong learning that exists at Proctor; faculty designing new courses based on their passions, engaging in professional development workshops and graduate courses to further explore their disciplines. This growth mindset permeates the student culture as students witness adults take the same academic risks and willingly embrace vulnerability necessary to deep learning. Our rapid shift to remote learning this spring has amplified our collective need to embrace an openness to failure and willingness to iterate.
Front and center in our conversations with prospective students is our belief in expanding our students’ identities during their Proctor journey. We encourage each prospective student to ask themselves “Who could you become?” They arrive with one perception of self and quickly realize their self-imposed, artificial confines of identity need not apply here. Institutionally, we are facing our own “Who could we become?” moment. What can we learn from this COVID-19 induced remote experience this spring? How can online or a hybrid learning model work at Proctor? What do we miss most about our community being together and how do we ensure that sustains in the future?
In this time of unbelievable uncertainty, the decisions, the big decisions can be hard to make. Do you make the move or not make the move? Education for a child is one of those big ones, particularly if you are considering investing in a new community. The tuition and room and board fees? Those are big numbers. How do you know if the school is going to be right, if it’s all going to click? If the faculty are going to understand your child, if the peer group is going to be right, if the whole thing is going to take? For those of us who may be a little ahead of you on the journey, perhaps there is some wisdom to share.
Life is unpredictable. If you told us that this spring we would not be in France teaching but instead writing this blog from our unheated shop, turned into quarantine home in western Washington State, it would be hard to believe. Our son and his wife live in the house and Jen and I are quarantining. We all have social distancing stories to share I'm sure - here's ours.
A version of this letter from Proctor's Director of College Counseling, E. Michael Koenig, was shared with parents and students of the Class of 2020 earlier in March. As the global situation related to COVID-19 continues to evolve and Proctor has made the decision to assess through Pass/Fail grades during the spring trimester, we share this message to the broader community in hopes it sparks a valuable conversation schools must be having related to how we assess, equity of assessment, and our priority needing to remain on the connection to and wellness of our students.