Normally my winters are spent in the gym coaching one of Proctor’s basketball teams or one of my three kid’s local rec teams. But with youth basketball programs on hiatus until later this winter due to COVID-19 and Proctor on an extended break, I decided this winter would be a great time to dust off the Nordic skis that usually get one or two uses a year.
A glance through old yearbooks and even photos from last winter reminds us just how much the world has changed over the past nine months. We yearn for the normalcy of assemblies in the Wilkins Meetinghouse, a packed Brown Dining Commons, hosting basketball and hockey games, and the impromptu dance party in the Wise Center. A return to normal may still be a distant dream, but the release of two successful vaccines has lit a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel through which we have all been stumbling through this year.
One of the challenges of working in school communications is the inability to disconnect from the world of social media. There is always something to post, someone to follow, a comment to which we must reply, and, inevitably, comparisons to others to be made. We know the perils of social media and the damage it can do in the lives of children, and recognize we can fall victim to these dangers as adults as well.
As year-end reflections from 2020 start filling our social media feeds, we are reminded of just how much has transpired during the past 365 days. At Proctor, we experienced an amazing pre-Covid-19 winter term, the announcement of a Head of School transition, the rapid shift to remote learning in March, and our first virtual graduation, before a summer of social unrest, return to school planning, and the launch of a successful Fall Term on-campus in the midst of a global pandemic. Through it all, we have shared blog posts, videos, and updates of life on campus with the greater Proctor Family.
Nine months ago (March 6, 2020) we loaded busses, cleaned out dorm rooms, and bid farewell to students for Spring Break. We knew COVID-19 was becoming “a thing” that might impact our return to campus for the Spring Term, but we had no idea how much our world would be turned upside down. While this global pandemic is far from over, we pause today to reflect on five lessons we have learned (so far) as a school community from COVID-19.
A few evenings ago, I opened the Netflix app on my phone and browsed “recommended” movies as I spun on the stationary bike in Proctor’s fitness center. I clicked on Moneyball (for the third or fourth time), and as I mindlessly listened to the dialogue, I thought little of the Hollywood dramatization of Billy Bean’s experiment to use data to measure the intangibles that would allow him to build a winning team out of the small market Oakland A’s in 2002.
We enter exam week with our noses pressed to the ground, focused intently on helping guide our students through final assessments, studying, and, our favorite, dorm cleaning and packing. This head-down, tirelessly-support-our students mindset has dominated our lives since Registration Day on September 7. As we cautiously lift our heads and see glimpses of the end of the term, we need to acknowledge the good, good work that has been done by so many over the past ten weeks to allow us to remain in-person.
On the cusp of exam week, students will be looking back to reflect and collect the knowledge accrued over the term. There will be final projects, final fall performances, and final exams. The library will bustle. Review sessions will be packed. The stairs to Learning Skills will continually creak as students transit up and down. All of this is part of a normal term, part of an opportunity for students to put forth their best work, to celebrate excellence. These are the expected takeaways from a term. But what about the unexpected?