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.
We each have a story that led us to work at Proctor: we went to school here, grew up in the region, were attracted to a specific program or the school’s educational philosophy. For Proctor’s newest member of the community, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator Will Wamaru, his journey began as a nine year old on his first mountaineering adventure with NOLS on a summit attempt of Mount Kenya’s Lenana Peak (16,355 feet), just twenty minutes from his family’s rural farm. This early exposure to the philosophy of NOLS and the notion that learning, relationships, and the outdoors could be inextricably woven together through a formal program, and not just in his daily life in his village, planted a seed that led to his continued involvement in NOLS as a student, and eventually, a teacher over the next two decades.
We talk often about how it is the people that make Proctor such a kind, supportive, loving community. As we rapidly approach June 30 and the final official day of the 2019-2020 academic year, we bid farewell to eight talented faculty and staff who have dedicated a portion (or in some cases all) of their professional life to the Proctor community.
When Proctor made the decision to spend the Spring Term learning remotely, the immediate question that arose focused on our academic schedule. Would we attempt to stay synchronous in our learning? Or would that simply be too complicated with students scattered around the globe with varying access to technology? Ultimately, we realized that at our core as a school is human connection, and when we are deprived of that connection, we struggle, and a fully synchronous schedule was born.
We talk often about the culture of lifelong learning that exists at Proctor; faculty designing new courses based on their passions, engaging in professional development workshops and graduate courses to further explore their disciplines. This growth mindset permeates the student culture as students witness adults take the same academic risks and willingly embrace vulnerability necessary to deep learning. Our rapid shift to remote learning this spring has amplified our collective need to embrace an openness to failure and willingness to iterate.
Life is unpredictable. If you told us that this spring we would not be in France teaching but instead writing this blog from our unheated shop, turned into quarantine home in western Washington State, it would be hard to believe. Our son and his wife live in the house and Jen and I are quarantining. We all have social distancing stories to share I'm sure - here's ours.