When our schools are so deeply rooted in that which makes us, us, the mere prospect of change can be a scary endeavor. In order to seek a vision for our future, we must honestly assess our present, acknowledging that which is core to our being and that which must evolve. This is the good, hard work we are doing right now as a community.
Each day, we watch the sunrise over Gannett House and the east end of campus and track across the sky until it sets over the Farrell Field House. These summer days are filled with a balance of planning, meetings, problem solving, fun, and adventure, as well as time to reflect on the trajectory of a school over time and our place in that arc.
It’s one of the corners of the school where history is visible, where narrative takes concrete form. It’s behind the thick curtains of the stage, behind a wall with a huge clattering garage door, behind the mystery darkness of the back stage. Penetrate far enough and you step into the scene shop, where the power tools are racked, the trays of screws and lag bolts stack up, the paint brushes and rollers hang over an industrial sink. Pry bars, levels, caulking guns, miter saw, plywood, doorknobs, castors, tape measures, battery chargers, clamps, step ladders surround the visitor. It’s a bright, busy space. It smells of sawdust and paint and dreams.
There’s no real easy way to do this, to make this announcement. I have wrestled it, spent time journaling, talked with a few folks in a very tight circle, but it simply comes down to this: the 2020-21 school year will be my last as Head of School at Proctor Academy. It is a decision that I have come to in consultation with the Board of Trustees, and it is a decision that I have moved towards over the last six months. It is not an easy decision, but I have made it with a full measure of pride in the accomplishments of this community and complete confidence that the school has the leadership and the wisdom to continue on with its current success.
As late August arrives, a complete faculty and staff meeting in the Wilkins Meeting House officially kicks off the coming school year. Given the complexity of our respective schedules, rarely are all of the adults in the community in the same room, but this start of year meeting halts all other responsibilities on campus as we gather together to recenter ourselves on Proctor's educational mission and the individual roles we play as we seek to fulfill that mission. During this morning’s meeting, we recognized faculty and staff who have surpassed the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year milestones working at Proctor and celebrated the retirement of two iconic members of Proctor Family who have been the ultimate stewards of community over the past four decades: Edna Peters and JoAnn Hicks.
I think that I speak for all of us when I say I was a little hesitant to travel to Lisbon, Portugal. After studying the language for a handful of days, the only thing I could confidently say was "Uma mulheres esta nadando" (the women are swimming) and "ola!" (Hello!). Soon though, when our plane our plane flew over Lisbon and started to descend and touch down, all my worries about the language flew away and I was left with excitement and anticipation for the week ahead of me.