In the early 1950s, Proctor evolved its two-track curriculum (college preparatory and technical) into a unified college preparatory curriculum with supplemental 'skills' courses in the industrial and fine arts.
Since that decision was made, Proctor's academic curriculum has evolved into a highly complex system. Head of School Mike Henriques commented to the school's Board of Trustees earlier in the fall that during the Fall Term, Academic Dean Doug Houston scheduled Proctor's 329 students (on-campus) into 1,920 different blocks across 93 courses and 169 sections.
While students are required to take a minimum of four Level 1 academic courses, the option to include Level 2, or skills courses, into individual schedules is core to exposing students to a variety of content areas.
Skills courses in the fine arts, technology, and industrial arts prepare students to potentially earn an academic art credit in the future, however, for many students the experience alone is the end goal.
Everett Jones' ('57) work in the metal shop teaches students safe techniques for welding, grinding, and crafting metal structures.
These are skills that many prep schools no longer cultivate in their student body, but Proctor remains committed to teaching.
Proctor's boat building program was originally used to craft the sailing team's fleet, as in the picture above, and today those students who choose to embark on this boat building journey take great pride in their final product.
In the wood shop, Greg Allen teaches students of all ability levels how to effectively work with wood. Students plan, construct, and put the finishing touches on beautiful pieces each term.
In Slocomb Hall, Patrice Martin uses her vast experience as an artist to help teach students photography and ceramic skills.
Proctor's dedication of a new photography wing to Slocomb Hall last year allows students to develop their own prints in the school's state of the art darkroom.
The work created by students new to various disciplines is always surprising, often to both the student and the observer. Who knows where talent may lie?
Proctor's state of the art recording studio, built in 2008, provides yet another opportunity for students to not only learn how to use recording technology, but to practice and perform instrumental and vocal music.
Bill Wightman's ensemble groups also have an opportunity to meet and practice during the academic day due to Proctor's willingness to include "skills" courses in the academic curriculum.
The following video by Ethney McMahon gives student voice to the tremendous opportunities available through Proctor's instrumental music.
In the Stone Chapel under Kris Johnson's guidance, the vocal music program at Proctor has flourished. Through individual voice lessons and group rehersals during the academic day, the Chamber Choir works steadily toward end-of-term productions.
While each student will take a different academic path at Proctor, knowing there are opportunities to remain engaged in skill courses, without sacraficing academic rigor, helps balance the overall educational experience.
As one three-year junior recently commented, "I never thought of taking ceramics, but I'm learning so much about the skills needed to create art. This has given me a valuable perspective that I had never experienced prior to this term."
Through Proctor's skills courses, students are able to retain a rigorous academic schedule while taking a variety of courses in the arts and technology departments.
Whether students are learning new skills from experienced teachers...
...or refining a talent that has been honed during their Proctor career...
...the work done in skill courses is valuable to their overall development as a student.
Students in skill courses all benefit from instructors who are not only passionate about what they teach...
...but also about the impact of the skills that are being taught.
Proctor's history is deeply rooted in the teaching of practical skills in the fine and industrial arts that will serve students well beyond their years at Proctor.
Giving students the opportunity to experiment with new courses stretches students' definition of self...
...and opens doors on which they may have never thought to knock.