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.
As we prepare to close out on the 2021-2022 school year, one thing stands out to me as I think about what makes Proctor uniquely Proctor. Of course, as mentioned in other pieces written across the Proctor Universe, the magic of connection and relationships drive everything that we do. Certainly, more so than any school where I have been or even schools that I have known from a distance. Affective connections and compassion matter.
On my way to the library in the twilight hour earlier this week, I passed a group of students outside the back of Rulon-Miller Dorm in the dark sitting in Adirondack chairs just chilling and chatting. They were senior boys getting their wings, deciding what evening study hall will now look like for them as they transition to Senior Projects, last rites of the school year, and what post-graduation might hold as they begin to chart their own courses.
The water churned along the walkway of the GulfQuest/National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico next to the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama. Pockets along the river were filled with branches, leaves, and brackish detritus that pooled next to sea vessels that had been docked for what looked like more than a year.
When I first moved to Proctor and to Andover, the question I most often received from folks was, “Are you excited?” Pausing, I would drink the question in for a while, just to get my bearings each time and to see if anything had changed for me. Each time, after carefully thinking it through, I would say, “Not really.” Or, I’d say, “Excitement is not really the word.” Or, finally, “It just feels ‘right.’” I was not trying to be cagey or obtuse, but I was simply trying to honor the question and the questioner. I am also a stickler for precision. To be more precise takes careful and nuanced answers.
In the last two years, our country and our culture has been put to the test. Pushed to our limits, at least for some of us, it sometimes feels like “the center cannot hold.” Working with and holding hope for adults and teenagers through one of the rockiest periods in recent memory definitely has had its challenges. Even the most stalwart of folks strain to stay healthy while empathy, patience, and the ability to self-regulate too often feel in short supply.