At the opening faculty meeting for the 2011-12 school year, Mike referenced the best-selling book The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande P'14 which employs memorable vignettes to demonstrate the benefit of pre-planning and systematic preparation to human endeavors.
The kind of exacting, critical procedures followed by jet pilots and surgeons are reflected in protocols governing rock climbing on Mountain Classroom, changing "watch" duties on Ocean Classroom and shooting in Field & Stream. Not quite as rigorous, yet just as productive to academic success are our approaches to writing a paper, crafting an introductory paragraph, and testing scientific hypotheses.
We follow routines that bear dividends. As a faculty, we begin a school year with countless procedures, programs and traditions that work. The opening faculty/staff meetings include the tradition of honoring those who have worked for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty and thirty-five years. Each cluster is called forward, and members of the community address each one--recalling stories, identifying strengths and professing support, admiration and love.
At face value, this exercise (which takes almost ninety minutes!) praises the fraction of the faculty and staff who have reached a milestone. Yet, as a part of our checklist for the start of a year, it accomplishes something much greater: the experience of witnessing this kind of support, (support in which faculty honor members of Housekeeping, Maintenance and Kitchen staff, and vice-versa,) establishes an ethos that will endure.
That sense of collective respect and shared commitment will echo in our relations throughout the year, and it is an echo that--ever so faintly--is detected by students.
The most perceptive student might ask, "What is it I feel in the adult community here?"
If you've lost count, the photo below shows Gary Peters, Anne Swayze and Curt Meier receiving plaudits at the start of their twenty-fifth year at Proctor.
Mike responds to praise for Jane Walker, who has served Kitchen and Housekeeping staffs for thirty years.
Perhaps this dynamic helps to explain the fact that twenty (!) former students currently serve Proctor as professionals!
Learning Skills Director Jen Fletcher offers words of support for members of her department.
Brooks Bicknell '78 demonstrates his passion.
Edna (who may be starting her 37th year) joins me at 35.
Patty and Kayden open up their campers for faculty coffee and scones outside the Chapel, where meetings take place.
Following meetings, we perform community service tasks in the village. Patty, Annie, Ted and Morgan are painting a shed at the elementary school with a Ben & Jerry's-inspired scene.