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The Arc of Adolescence: Partnering with Families

Scott Allenby

Perfect weather framed a Spring Family Weekend filled with connection for our parents and families: to Proctor, to their children, to our faculty and staff, to each other. Friday’s bright blue skies, temperatures in the low-60s, no bugs, and a light breeze only happen so often during a New England spring. Like these fleeting days of perfect weather, adolescence comes and goes before we know it. Our challenge is to grant ourselves permission to just stop, close our eyes and soak in the journey we are on with our students. 



The journey of teenagers through high school is often messy, beautiful, and nonlinear. From the earliest moments of welcoming our first child into the world, my wife and I realized parenthood would be filled with contradictions. We desperately needed sleep, but craved those moments of solitude when our son would finally stop crying. Fifteen years later, we know he and his siblings need independence, but feel hardwired to protect them from the unknown. This dichotomy of parenthood challenges us, as it challenges every other parent at Proctor, because this school, more than nearly any other, asks us to allow our children to step boldly into a world of independence. 

Proctor Academy Spring Family Weekend

Our capacity to simultaneously experience conflicting emotions as parents - we can be both nervous and excited about our children’s independence, we can mourn the end of one stage of life, and look with unprecedented anticipation at what lies ahead - allows us to see the full arc of adolescence. 

Proctor Academy Spring Family Weekend

For those of us who choose to spend our careers in education, we quickly learn that, in the long-run, student engagement and individual growth are the ultimate measures of success. We never tire of watching a student evolve from an uncertain, squirrely 14 year old to a slightly more mature, perhaps overly confident 16 year old to a self-aware, self-advocating 18 year old ready to take on the world. While every young person’s journey through adolescence is wholly unique, the developmental patterns are remarkably consistent (just ask any teacher of seniors right now whether or not that group is developmentally ready to graduate!). Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our own child’s journey is consistent, even when it feels frustrating. 

Proctor Academy Spring Family Weekend

As we observe this natural arc of adolescence at Proctor, we have designed an educational model that embraces the challenges that will inevitably arise while capitalizing on the burgeoning confidence and independence of which our students are capable. As the twists and turns of adolescence test the strands of the support that surround each teenager, we simply aim to walk alongside our students (and parents) as their journey unfolds -- nudging, holding accountable, redirecting, and encouraging when necessary. Trust develops over time as we partner with our families and help each other see the arc of adolescence not as something to fear, but something to celebrate. Thank you to all of our families for their partnership and for sharing Spring Family Weekend with us! 

Proctor Academy Spring Family Weekend

Check out more photos from Spring Family Weekend 2024!

  • Community and Relationships
  • Parents