The Impact of Community on Learning

Posted by Scott Allenby


There is something about a beautiful fall day that brings out the best in a place. Smiling faces walking around campus, sun-filled classrooms, lunch outside on the lawn, and a host of athletic contests certainly showed well to the visiting families on tour yesterday.

Proctor Academy power of community

Proctor Academy English Class

Unfortunately, not every day feels like yesterday did. Sometimes it rains here. The burnt orange leaves of late September fade and fall to the ground and the days gradually get darker. Then it snows. There are days when smiles between classes are far harder to come by and when energy is low. These are the realities of a school year.

Proctor Academy Arts

Proctor Academy

What makes Proctor special is not the smiles on our faces during quintessential fall days, but rather the intangibles of community that sustain us through all types of weather, personal struggles, academic challenges, and school-wide crises. It is Proctor’s ability to encourage students to evolve who they are as students that keeps this community vibrant, constantly challenging itself to grow, change course, and adapt to a changing world.

Proctor Academy English Class

Proctor’s culture mirrors the type of school culture New York Times’ Frank Bruni writes about in his op ed, Demanding More from College. “Now more than ever, college needs to be an expansive adventure, yanking students toward unfamiliar horizons and untested identities rather than indulging and flattering who and where they already are. And students need to insist on that, taking control of all facets of their college experience and making it as eclectic as possible.”

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Bruni argues a college culture focused on expanding student experiences not only better prepares students for life after college, but enhances the on-campus culture as well. “And college is the perfect chapter for diversifying friends and influences, rummaging around in fresh perspectives, bridging divides...It gives them more agency over their calendars and their allegiances. They can better construct their world from scratch. And the clay hasn’t dried on who they are. They’re not yet set in their ways.”

Proctor Academy English Class

Proctor Academy Arts

It is Bruni’s above statement that we hold fundamental to the Proctor experience. Course grades, athletic participation, and art portfolios populate a graduate’s transcript, but we believe the most valuable attribute a Proctor graduate brings to his or her college is obtained simply by living in this community: an ability to explore new passions, embrace new challenges, interact with new people and become engaged citizens of the world.

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