When we peel back the layers of Proctor’s educational model - the programs, buildings, and people who make up our community - we find a shared understanding that, at its core, our work is to create, sustain, and teach young people how to live in meaningful relationship with others. The past two days of faculty professional development covered a wide range of issues, all centered on creating and sustaining an inclusive community that celebrates the remarkable diversity of learning styles, family histories, cultures, and backgrounds that exists within Proctor.
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!
As independent schools in northern New England have worked to diversify their student bodies in recent decades, that same diversity has lagged in the faculty and staff of those institutions. In 2019, conversations began among heads of schools in the region to create a network of future educators in order to build a cohort community that would be both supportive and appealing to join. The result of these conversations is a groundbreaking collaboration among northern New England independent schools and Dartmouth College to create a fellowship program that will provide aspiring educators an opportunity to receive a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) while participating in a two year practicum at one of the participating independent schools.
Boarding school communities are made whole by the adults who commit their lives and careers to sustaining and building the cultures of our school. Like all healthy organizations, annual shifts in roles and responsibilities bring renewed energy to the school. At our end of year gatherings, we bid farewell to departing employees, some who have spent their whole careers at Proctor, others just a short season of their lives. Regardless of their time spent as a Proctor employee, each has left an impact and a legacy that has made Proctor a better place. We share a thank you and best wishes to this talented group of educators and committed employees.
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.