Core to any Mountain Classroom experience is teaching students to adapt, to embrace challenges, to be prepared for the unexpected and to work collaboratively to face each obstacle that arises. When COVID-19 threatened to cancel Proctor’s Mountain Classroom program this winter, instructors Quinn Harper and Erica Hample partnered with program director Patty Pond and Proctor’s Health Center staff to create a quarantine and testing protocol that would allow the program to function, with modifications, and allow ten lucky students to experience a term of place-based learning and expeditions in the American Southwest. Today, we share the group’s first blog post after ten days together.
Normally my winters are spent in the gym coaching one of Proctor’s basketball teams or one of my three kid’s local rec teams. But with youth basketball programs on hiatus until later this winter due to COVID-19 and Proctor on an extended break, I decided this winter would be a great time to dust off the Nordic skis that usually get one or two uses a year.
One of the challenges of working in school communications is the inability to disconnect from the world of social media. There is always something to post, someone to follow, a comment to which we must reply, and, inevitably, comparisons to others to be made. We know the perils of social media and the damage it can do in the lives of children, and recognize we can fall victim to these dangers as adults as well.
Campus has been incredibly quiet this week; even quieter than our remote December provided. Meetings related to our repopulation of campus in January and end of year fundraising projects fill some of our calendars, but an opportunity to disconnect allows us to reflect on our collective work at Proctor.
As year-end reflections from 2020 start filling our social media feeds, we are reminded of just how much has transpired during the past 365 days. At Proctor, we experienced an amazing pre-Covid-19 winter term, the announcement of a Head of School transition, the rapid shift to remote learning in March, and our first virtual graduation, before a summer of social unrest, return to school planning, and the launch of a successful Fall Term on-campus in the midst of a global pandemic. Through it all, we have shared blog posts, videos, and updates of life on campus with the greater Proctor Family.
Yesterday was the darkest day of the year. The sun rose at 7:16 am and set at 4:12 pm offering less than nine hours of sunlight to the village of Andover. Living in northern New England we are used to this physical darkness, and learn to cope with it by embracing the outdoors (read more about that here). But this year is different as the emotional darkness of a global pandemic matches the physical darkness of the Winter Solstice.
Temperatures will plummet overnight as we bid farewell to a mild first half of December and anxiously await what Winter Storm Gail will bring Wednesday evening into Thursday. As the winter winds shift, we each have a choice to make: retreat indoors and curse the cold, snowy winter ahead or embrace the amazing outdoor recreation opportunities available to us in rural New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. At Proctor, we choose the latter.
Nine months ago (March 6, 2020) we loaded busses, cleaned out dorm rooms, and bid farewell to students for Spring Break. We knew COVID-19 was becoming “a thing” that might impact our return to campus for the Spring Term, but we had no idea how much our world would be turned upside down. While this global pandemic is far from over, we pause today to reflect on five lessons we have learned (so far) as a school community from COVID-19.