The 4th of July in the town of Andover, New Hampshire looked a little different this year. Not just because COVID-19 canceled festivities on the Town Green, the parade through campus filled with local fire departments and scout troops, or fireworks over Carr Field, but because of a much needed reframing of our understanding of Independence Day in America.
We enter a new year (and decade) with resolutions to be better. More exercise, less sugar. More time with family, less on technology. I have mixed feelings about the concept of New Year’s resolutions. While I appreciate the opportunity for reflection and the notion of self-improvement, I also recognize real self-improvement happens incrementally and is a far more complex process than a simple declaration as the calendar flips to a new year.
In the midst of the daily grind of teaching adolescents, we risk drifting away from our “why”. Why have we dedicated our life to education? Why have we chosen Proctor as the fertile ground into which we will sow our seeds of hope for the next generation? In order to best serve our students, we must nurture daily habits of centering around our “why” as individual educators and as a community.
Proctor's winter Mountain Classroom group continues their journey westward, spending the past week in West Texas and visiting Annunciation House. Proctor's relationship with Annunciation House dates back over a decade as students meet with and hear the stories of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. In this week's blog post, Lulu '19 and Sean '20 share remarkable insights into their experience at the border, offering each of us a human window into what has become a largely dehumanized struggle in our Nation.
When asked by old friends or new acquaintances what I do for a living, I usually state, “I work at a prep school in New Hampshire.” Most have a general sense of what a prep school is, and I am able to navigate the confusion accompanying my explanation that a boarding school like Proctor is far different than the image they have in their heads from Dead Poets Society or Hogwarts. Unintentionally, the ambiguity of my answer understates the complexity of the "prep" that takes place with our students here.
On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared a national celebration of Armistice Day, a day Calvin Coolidge would describe in 1926 as, "A day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." President Eisenhower would later change the name Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 recognizing all those who had served in the US Armed Forces. For the 99th year, we will observe Veterans Day as a country tomorrow, but like many federal holidays, Proctor does not cancel classes, and business continues as usual. In the midst of our busyness, we want to pause and recognize those who have served our country.
Earlier this week, we published the 2017-2018 Greenbook (Proctor’s Student Handbook) and sent a series of permission forms to parents to complete in advance of the upcoming school year. This process takes place each summer, both for returning and new families, and serves as an important acknowledgement of the rules, expectations, and boundaries essential to sustaining the Proctor community. The temptation for some might be to glance over the forms, identify where to sign or initial, and click submit. To check the box and move on with summer plans. Our hope is this process is a bit more intentional because we recognize joining a community, especially a community like Proctor, is not something you should take lightly.