A theme seems to be developing in our blog posts this summer. Two weeks ago we shared thoughts on the balance of disruption and vision at independent schools, and this post from last week discussed our personal investment in student growth. Regularly exploring the bigger, existential “why” of our educational model challenges us to recommit to what we believe and why we believe it.
Each fall, the ten students studying abroad on Proctor en Segovia embark on a portion of the Camino de Santiago. Historically a nearly 500 mile pilgrimage to the temple of St. James in Galicia, the Camino de Santiago was first traveled in 812 AD and now is frequented by over 300,000 pilgrims a year. As our students discover each fall during their forty miles of camino hiking, a pilgrimage is less about the destination and more about the journey.
While the Camino de Santiago is unique to the Catholic faith, a quick survey of every major culture around the globe reveals similar pilgrimages - quests to leave behind the comfortable in search of something more. That something more, regardless of faith or culture, centers around a connection: a spiritual connection, a connection to nature, a connection to passions, a connection to those by your side on the journey.
As we pause in the midst of Independent Day preparations in the metropolis of Andover, we circle back to the existential question “why does our work matter?”. How is our mission at Proctor relevant to the greater educational landscape in which we operate? What is it about Proctor's educational model that attracts and retains students and teachers from around the globe year after year?
High school, for adolescents, serves as an extended pilgrimage, a camino toward identity. Teenagers are searching for themselves, connection, and their role in this crazy world, and families choose Proctor because, quite simply, they believe in an education that prioritizes the journey, not the destination.
In two short months from tomorrow, 130 new students and their families will arrive on campus. They will embark on their own camino through their high school years at Proctor. They will study abroad, participate in the arts and perform on the athletic fields. They will study new subjects, explore Proctor's woodlands, and learn more about themselves than they ever thought possible. There are unknowns that await them - roommates, advisors, teachers, Wilderness Orientation - but there is also a promise of connection. It is this promise, fulfilled year after year by students and faculty alike, that sustains us as a school and gives us each the confidence to step into the unknown in our lives.