At the Heart of It All - Relationships

Posted by Scott Allenby


More than two-thirds of our population is in the midst of either Sports Camp or Wilderness Orientation. At the heart of each of these programs is the formation of relationships: relationships with faculty and fellow new students on Wilderness Orientation, relationships with teammates and coaches in pre-season sports camp, and a budding relationship with Proctor as a community.


We talk often about the importance of relationships in education, but it is perhaps the most difficult quality of a school to truly understand from afar. Sure, we can post pictures of students arm in arm with smiles on their faces. We can show you video of teachers working closely with students to further their learning of a subject. But it is impossible to understand a school’s ‘culture’ unless you live it.

For the 125 new students embarking on their Proctor journey, they will quickly realize how deep the relationships are that they have formed, and will continue to form, with faculty, staff, and peers. These relationships are what alumni talk about at reunions and are foundational to effective learning.


While driving back from Heide and Eric ‘88 Johnson’s house after helping raise a timber frame ramp Saturday (a strong reminder of the power of relationships and community), this Ted Radio Hour was playing on NHPR. Clips from Rita Pierson’s powerful Ted Talk “Every Kid Needs a Champion” played as experts discussed the need for trusting relationships to exist in order for students to learn. In Pierson’s talk she noted one of her colleagues saying, “I am not paid to like kids, I’m paid to teach them,” to which she replied, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

At the heart of Pierson’s talk is the role trust plays in forming the relationships in learning she champions. Faculty discussed the foundational neuroscience behind relational learning at faculty meetings a few weeks ago. We know every student arrives at Proctor with a unique background, however, each hopefully receives a similar reception; one of welcoming individual learning styles into a highly diverse, challenging educational environment. For many students, the transition into classes and life at Proctor is seamless, for others it can be a longer process.  A trust based on the knowledge  each teacher is looking out for your best interest as a student and  your peers will allow you to travel along your own individual educational journey evolves over time as a byproduct of school culture. It does not just happen.


Trust is a complex thing. It must be built over time, yet it can be broken in an instant. No one can tell someone that trusting relationships exist at a school, they must live it themselves. We are excited our new students have started to live those relationships this week!


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