Love Walks: Finding Purpose in Little Moments

Posted by Scott Allenby


Late last night, Head of School Brian Thomas announced that today would be Head’s Day, an unplanned, surprise day off from school commitments for students. Students get to sleep in, lounge around, go skiing, head to a local restaurant with faculty, or take their time with an extra long workout in the gym. 


This year, Head’s Day just happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, and while we will spare you a sappy narrative of Proctor couples who have gone on to share lives together, we do pause on this “day off” to consider how our work and lives at Proctor seek to put love out into the world. 


Between each class block, assembly, and lunch, the pathways around campus fill as we transition from one activity to the next. We capture these moments, often with posed smiles for students looking for Lindsey’s camera, on Instagram. These photos, kids arm in arm with each other, genuinely happy to share a moment with the camera, certainly bring smiles to parents’ faces around the country, but it is only when we pause on a day without passing time that we realize how this simple act of walking alongside each other between classes benefits us. 


The fresh air, the movement of our bodies, and the physical transitioning from one space to another certainly helps our brains become more receptive to learning. But the real benefit we experience lies in the social interactions that buoy our spirits even during the coldest of winter days. 


We are social creatures, craving human interaction and validation. Even if just a quick hello using a person’s name, nod of the head, or brief eye contact and a smile, it is these brief moments that we help others feel seen, known, and appreciated for who they are. 


Dean of Faculty Karl Methven shared THIS article with a group of us who coach boys athletic teams and have been in an ongoing conversation around accountability with this group of our population. The author David French, discusses the importance of purpose in young men’s lives, but his words really should be expanded to embrace the role of purpose in all of our lives regardless of our identified gender. French writes, “There are few better purposes than helping the people you love walk through life…Virtuous purpose is worth more than any other person’s conditional and unreliable respect. It is rooted in service and sacrifice, not entitlement. What we do for others is infinitely more rewarding than what we ask them to do for us.” 


There are many things we hope our students take with them from their Proctor experience - independence, self-advocacy skills, intellectual curiosity, an appreciation for the environment, a sense of adventure - but there is perhaps no greater hope we have for our students than to understand they have a purpose to fulfill in their lives. When we see them helping the people they love walk through life at Proctor, and beyond, we know we are doing something right. 


On this Valentine’s Day, and Head’s Day, may we do just that: find those around us who need someone to help them walk through life. To us, that is what love looks like.

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