This past weekend, members of Proctor’s Administrative Team spoke in front of the Board of Trustees at the regularly scheduled meeting in May. Led by Academic Dean Derek Nussbaum Wagler, with a major assist from the Teaching and Learning Team, along with Learning Specialist Lori Patriacca, Head Librarian Heidi Thoma, Mathematics Department Chair Bill O'Brien, and chemistry teacher Sue Houston, we heard how Proctor’s experiential approach to learning transcends off-campus programs to our on-campus classes and programs.
The intersection of big, tough issues facing society, perfectionism projected into the lives of adolescents through social media and parental expectations, and a desire to support students through the COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment in our schools where we must delicately balance student well-being and expectations. How do we authentically manufacture adversity for young people who live in a world that seeks to shelter them from it?
We feel more fragile than we did two years ago. We worry our children are more fragile, too; their childhood upended by a global pandemic, school interrupted, screens trying in vain to replace the human interaction that we know fuels their soul. And yet, as we step into the bright light of a post-pandemic world, squinting our eyes against the flood of “how it was before”, we must realize it is through challenge that our children are strengthened.
This week Proctor’s Admissions Team will welcome more than 45 families to campus for tours and interviews. Last week was a similar schedule, as was the week before. On Saturday we welcome more than 30 students from Prep at Pingree to campus to learn about boarding school and Proctor’s educational model. As each family or student tours campus, they see Proctor in action on any given day. They see students in motion: classes, assembly, lunch, afternoon program, extra help sessions, study hall, weekend activities. What they don’t see, however, is any preconceived notion they might have had of what a boarding school should look like based on their watching of Dead Poets Society.
Each Registration Day, you can feel the rollercoaster of emotion as families arrive on campus and their Proctor experience begins in earnest. The theoretical idea of having a child attend boarding school becomes reality, and while much of everyone’s energy centers around excitement for what lies ahead, we acknowledge there is just enough anxiety and sense of loss to make the emotions of the day challenging.
In many cultures, gatherings are sacred, like the garments worn at a celebratory event. It’s where people feel comfort, receive information, share messages, and pass on what is essential about why the group exists. At Proctor, we are a mix of people, groups, religions, races, creeds, and cultures. Often, we come together to share in the joy of each other’s gifts, whether in the classrooms, spaces of play, upon the stage, or because of common interest. We all share one essential thing, which is the love for our small village - our school - that knits us together on pristine land in the middle of New Hampshire.