We write often about the importance of community, about how we each must play a role in stewarding this place so it is here for future generations. While we do not explicitly reference Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s notion of a Beloved Community, it is precisely that toward which we are striving at Proctor.
We are ‘educators’ by profession, but our responsibility to our students extends well beyond the walls of our classrooms. We serve as examples for our students: in the dining hall, in assembly, when we play with our own children, when we interact with our peers, and when we volunteer our time in the local community. Students arrive at Proctor having been shaped and molded by their own parents, and our role as a boarding school is to build upon the foundation their parents provided.
Later this afternoon we will welcome students back from break for the heart of the winter term. The dining hall will gradually come to life, dorms will fill with hugs, stories from the past two weeks, and anticipation of what lies ahead. Moments like tonight, when we see our students joyously reconnecting with each other, stand in stark contrast to the realities of disconnect and mental health struggles facing so many.
If we are honest with ourselves, teenagers are equal parts frustrating and equal parts energizing. We have moments in our classes, with our teams, or in our advisories where our students make us laugh, inspire us to dig deeper, think more critically, and do our best work. And then we have moments where we want to pull our hair out and question our career choice.
Each time campus empties for a vacation, we are reminded that our students’ presence in our lives fuels our work as educators. This place is just not the same without their energy and enthusiasm pulsing through the community. We are teachers and coaches and advisors and dorm parents only because they are our students, players, advisees, and dorm residents. We are because they are.
Campus is quiet, for the moment. No bikes or skateboards zooming down pathways. No laughter or chatter as students pass between classes. No rushing off to our next meeting, assembly, or practice. Faculty have plenty of grading to do as we wrap up Fall Term assessments, but we take a collective deep breath this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.