The signs of the end of school are everywhere. As I write this, I can hear the concluding strains of Act I of the spring musical wafting down the halls in the basement of the Wilkins Meeting House and Norris Family Theater. We have great representation of students and faculty from Proctor, as well as faculty children from Andover Elementary and Middle School; I, too, am in the play. “Shrek!” is Proctor’s spring musical, which opened last evening.
I closed my eyes and focused on my breath. The plane skipped up, sideways, down and seemed to popcorn around in the air. I gripped my armrest on the 50 seater with people silently reciting small prayers in their heads. Or that is what I imagined since that was what I was doing. I slowly opened my eyes to see snow capped mountains. Big ones. Excitement replaced fear, my eyes glued to the window. The snowy mountain tops blended into striated red rock mesas as we landed in Grand Junction after a stop over in Denver.
I have always been a believer in what our school does. Ever since I first heard the name and jumped onto Proctor’s website, I found myself in love with Proctor’s version of experiential learning -- living with host families in Spain or Costa Rica, speaking Spanish, exploring deep cultural history and literature, living in an artist-colony in France and learning and exploring alongside Proctor legends Jen and Dave Fleming. Or maybe the open sea is more your speed and you can work on a tall ship sailing down the eastern seaboard all the while studying literature, the ocean that you call home, and keeping watch while you navigate the high seas. But for those of you who prefer to stay on land, you can hop in a minibus with ten of your peers and a couple instructors just crazy enough to help you navigate the American southwest, learning about indigenous cultures or geology while you hike the lands you discuss and climb the rock formations you’ve studied. These programs are proximate learning at its finest, and the only thing wrong with them is that you have to be a student to quench this wanderlust!
Traditional New England, all-boys boarding schools throughout the 1950s and 1960s (like Proctor during that era) were male dominated institutions: in the classrooms, on the athletic fields, and in the leadership of the school. A glance at Proctor’s yearbooks from these decades scream order, discipline, and structure. And yet upon closer examination, the Proctor community and experience of the students themselves relied as much on the impact of strong, confident, capable women to lead the school from the inside. Nancy Wright was one of these women during her 20 years of service to Proctor. Today, we share her passing at the age of 94.
As we prepare for our first international students to arrive this weekend, our excitement for the year ahead builds. Our work becomes more real, more tangible. The theoretical of summer reading and professional development gets to be put into action during opening of year meetings. This morning was the first time we have been all together in the same space in two years. Hanging on the wall in the Norris Family Theater where we gathered is a banner that reads TOGETHER. A version of this banner has adorned the wall of our meeting space for generations, but it has never felt more important than now.
As Proctor prepares to welcome new and returning students to campus for the start of the academic year, our community also welcomes new faculty and staff to Andover. This group of educators has been working hard to get to know Proctor during new faculty orientation. Please welcome these new community members to Proctor. Learn more about them below!
When any two random Proctor alumni run into each other on the street, exploring in a National Park, or at a music venue, their shared experiences create an immediate bond that transcends their years spent in Andover. Central to these shared experiences are the faculty and staff who make Proctor, Proctor.
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.