Each Registration Day, you can feel the rollercoaster of emotion as families arrive on campus and their Proctor experience begins in earnest. The theoretical idea of having a child attend boarding school becomes reality, and while much of everyone’s energy centers around excitement for what lies ahead, we acknowledge there is just enough anxiety and sense of loss to make the emotions of the day challenging.
Today, 97 new students officially began their Proctor journey, joining 20 others coming out of the woods from Early Orientation. Tomorrow, we will welcome roughly the same number of returning students to campus for pre-season Sports Camp, and we will hit full throttle on the 2021-2022 school year soon after. As campus comes alive, we feel the familiar energy of adolescents coalescing around something they have been missing all summer: community.
If you ask a student to define Proctor’s culture with words, they may have a hard time. But, just as we can feel it when we step into it as adults, so, too, can our students. It is tangible, real, a culture created and built upon over the past half century. Proctor has become a first-choice school for kids. They want to be here because it feels right. They looked around at other options and opted into this community when they saw how students bucked the notion of social cliques, opting instead for a constant social regrouping as off-campus programs come and go and athletic teams reshuffled friend groups each season. They saw experiences like Project Period and advisory bring together seemingly random groups of students and new friendships and appreciation for each other emerge. They saw a stronger student community than they had ever seen before.
Proctor is also a first choice school for educators. We are a community filled with people who believe so deeply in this educational model that they immerse themselves and their families into the beautiful chaos of boarding school life. The intergenerational learning that takes place professionally among colleagues inspires even our most seasoned teachers to keep growing, stretching, and learning. We teach and coach each other’s kids, walk each other’s dogs, and, over time, our lives become knit together in a way that solidifies the foundation of the community our students experience.
While headlines focus on what a challenging time it is to be an educator, we believe it is the most important time to be an educator. Our students need us more now than any other generation of teenagers have needed their teachers. They are hungry for connection, desperate to be pushed out of their comfort zone and to find deeper meaning in their work than any textbook can provide. They want to get proximate to their learning, and at Proctor we have the ability to do just that.
By prioritizing relationships with our students, we help them know they belong, are known, and are understood. When our teenagers know they are supported and have trusting adults in their lives, they learn that a real education is about so much more than what you learn in the classroom. Research continues to show us how adolescents develop and grow, and how to best construct a productive learning environment for them, the environment we have created at Proctor.
As parents, you are our partners in making this magic happen. There will be challenges and moments of discomfort this year - the rollercoaster of parenting an adolescent doesn’t stop just because your child is at boarding school - but you are partnered with a group of educators who care just as much about your child as you do. Together - parents and teachers - we have important work to do to teach our students how to fly. Let’s get going.