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Farewell to the Wills

The beauty of human existence lies in our ability to form relationships with one another. Each relationship we form with someone is unique. The type of humor we use, the level of trust we share, the respect we have for the other person varies based on how that relationship has developed over time. Over the past 38 years, Chuck and Sarah have formed thousands of truly meaningful relationships with the students, faculty, and families they have interacted with as educators at Proctor. While Chuck and Sarah will be retiring this year, the relationships they have with all of us will endure.

The first of those relationships began to form at Proctor in the spring of 1976 when Chuck, a twenty-five year old graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, visited Proctor to explore a position teaching U.S. history. He liked what he saw, “I had attended a couple of prep schools as a kid, and had not been very happy, so when David Fowler spoke about academic support, experiential learning and an egalitarian community, I knew I wanted to start teaching here. The informality of the school was very novel and appealing to me.” Chuck agreed to stay as an unpaid intern and moved into a third floor room in Gannett House. Chuck’s college sweetheart, Sarah Ousley, began teaching English at Winnisquam Regional High School in nearby Tilton, New Hampshire that fall. As Chuck says, the rest is history. They married in 1977; moved into Carriage House, and Sarah joined Proctor’s English Department in 1979.

Proctor was a smaller school of approximately 260 students at that time, and limited resources necessitated that Sarah coach both varsity and junior varsity girls’ soccer and lacrosse, practicing as one squad and playing back-to-back games home and away. Times have changed a bit! She succeeded Tom Eslick as English Department Chair, a role she enjoyed for more than two decades. She notes, “The department has a long tradition for excellent teachers, creativity and collaboration. I was proud to serve as its Chair for many years.” Sarah has touched the lives of approximately 2,000 students as a demanding, fair, and inspiring teacher and advisor. Head of School Mike Henriques has said that, “Sarah Will is simply one of the great teachers I have known. She holds students to the highest academic standards, and they respond to her command of subject matter, her wit, and her love.”

Tina Walker ‘86 sent a note describing her relationship with Sarah, “I recently saw Sarah after many years of absence from each other’s lives and I was flooded with all the loving and caring emotions I had for this incredible woman, teacher, mother, and friend! How blessed I was to have her in my early years to help form who I have become as an adult.”

Chuck’s career at Proctor included years as Social Science Department Chair, Academic Dean, Director of Admission and Financial Aid, and Director of Communications--a position he has held since 1998. In this latter role, he embraced electronic communication, as Proctor became the first school in the nation to replace newsletters and magazines with customized ‘push pages’. But it is as the author of a highly popular, witty, photo blog--Chuck’s Corner--that he is best known. This blog has set the bar for authentic independent school communications nationwide with nearly 3,000 blog posts shaping the Proctor narrative over the past fifteen years. “I’m grateful to the school, and the administration in particular, for giving me the permission and trust to be a voice for Proctor without editorial review. That’s what makes it unique.” Reflecting on his career, Chuck says, “I get great joy seeing Proctor prosper. In terms of facilities, it’s a very different school from the one I knew in ‘76, but at a human level it is the same place. My relationships today are as rewarding for me as they are for students, and that has never changed. It will be tough to be separated from the school, but it’s time.”

As this year ends, Chuck and Sarah will commence on their own journey as they say farewell to the Proctor community. Thirty-eight years is an incredible amount of time to invest in a community. They have been integral to Proctor’s evolution as a school, and have been as much a part of this institution as anyone has in Proctor's 166 year history.

Chuck and Sarah: from the bottom of our hearts, thank you! Thank you for all you have given to this community as educators, leaders, colleagues, mentors, and friends. Thank you for investing your lives in this school and for impacting each of us in a unique way. Thank you for the institutional wisdom you have shared over the years. Thank you for understanding what makes this school special and for weaving your own pattern into the fabric of this community. May the next chapter you write be as fruitful, enjoyable, and impactful as the one you are finishing this spring.

We encourage those reading this post to enjoy this photo slideshow of the Wills through the years and to leave a comment below with your favorite memory of Chuck and Sarah. Both Chuck and Sarah will also be at Reunion Weekend June 7.
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  • Francis J Bradford
    A little late on the posting, but I have to say, I am sure you are missed. You two were, amongst my favourite five teachers, the others being Don Gentile, David Fowler, and Eva ? the Drama Teacher/Director. Through coaching, classes, conversations , and Alumni Trips to LA, time spent was precious, and life molding. Blessings on the next chapter of your lives. Francis Bradford -Class of '82!
  • Todd Cantlay
    Chuck do that silent screen thing at assembly on the Pianny it cracks the students up
  • Todd Cantlay
    Chuck Sarah loved you guys with wee Willy (fire Chief) & yhe Colburns plus Donny G Todd
  • Arthur/Helen & family Bellefeuille
    Lots of luck to you both!!!!!
  • Ethney McMahon
    Thank goodness you will still be in town! Love you both
  • Alex Estin
    You have both touched so many lives during your many years at Proctor! I speak especially for myself, as I can't imagine Proctor without you both! I do know that many others feel the same way. It will never be the same. Sarah, as I always joke, little did you know when you said yes to being my advisor that it meant for life!! You have been such a mentor, teacher, coach, mother but most of all - the best friend a person could ever have!! Thank you!!!!!! Wishing you all the happiness, relaxation and fun in this next journey!
  • Alex Estin
    The alumni office received this wonderful letter to Sarah and Chuck: What can I say about a person that helped shape the core of who I would become as an adult? I started babysitting for Sarah’s son Andrew when he was about 5 weeks old. I was 12 or 13 years old at the time. I soon was babysitting on a regular basis and loving the time I got to spend not only with her child but with Sarah and her husband, Chuck (I blame him for my dry sense of humor). Though we lived in the same town, when I went to babysit it seemed like a different world. When I was there I had their full attention, I wasn’t one of four siblings and feeling l was never being heard. Sarah and I would talk and laugh and she would always give some sort of advice or life lesson (of course then I didn’t know that is what it was!). Soon Mary came along and I was in charge of two Will’s. At this time I had started going to Merrimack Valley High School. Chuck tried to encourage me to apply to Proctor but I didn’t think I would fit in and there is no way my mom could afford it. Sarah would also suggest it here or there. When my best friend decided to go to Proctor for our junior year it didn’t take too many times for Chuck to tell me to apply and that he thought I would get a scholarship for me to apply. I did, I was accepted and attended Proctor my junior and senior years. Sarah and I became even closer. I thought I had English class in the bag since Sarah would be my teacher! Boy, was I wrong! When I got my first paper back, I got a “C”! I had never gotten a “C” before! Sarah made me work for my grade and she made me a better student by pushing me to do my best. To this day I can still remember sitting in her class with Trip Wyckoff and Chris Bartlett reading Beowulf and Canterbury Tales! I wasn’t a soccer player so I didn’t have Sarah as a coach but she did always make a point to come watch a field hockey, basketball or lacrosse game or ask me how my season was going. I could go to Sarah about anything and often did. After babysitting she would often be the one to drive me home and we would talk and talk. I cherished those times. I chose to go to Wheelock College in Boston. I wanted and needed to get out of Andover and New Hampshire and Sarah encouraged me to follow my dreams. My mom didn’t like to drive in Concord never mind take me to the big city so I knew she wouldn’t drive me to Boston. Without thinking twice Sarah volunteered to drive me to Boston because she knew how much it meant to me being the first one in my family to go to college. I regret not staying in contact with Sarah over the years put life got away from me. However I would read things about her and the family and I would get updates on Facebook (Chuck and I are “friends”). I recently saw Sarah after many years of absences from each other’s lives and I was flooded with all the loving and caring emotions I had for this incredible woman, teacher, mother, and friend! How blessed I was to have her in my early years to help form who I have become as an adult. I wish her the absolute the best in her new adventure!! Tina
  • Erik Cole-Johnson
    Thanks for believing in so many students all of these years. In any interaction I've had with either of you, I've always felt a sense of possibility and life. I am in awe.
  • Laurie Zimmerman
    For more than 25 years, Proctor, my own teaching career, and my "other" life as an Andover resident has been informed and surrounded by, inspired by, and made rich through the steady example, support, and friendship of the Wills. My heart is full, trying to grapple with the mixed emotions brought on by the retirement of two of the best people I've known. They are the kind of human beings, individually and as a couple, who make any community better--even stellar--because they are part of it. A quick Proctor memory: Sarah in her sleeping bag in the Whites on Orientation--with dozens of tiny creatures racing over her in the dark. Priceless! Love always.
  • Anna Hanlon
    Chuck and Sarah I will really miss you both so much. You both have always been so kind to me and the students adore you both. Good luck in your retirement from Proctor and take some time to relax and have fun. Love, Anna Hanlon
  • "Charlie" Durell
    What can I say about the guy who hired me (even tho I was late!). You were my first mentor here and I learned so much from you about how to be "positively negative". You are wonderful and I truly will miss you and your edgy sense of humor! Sarah, you are just as awesome (maybe that's why you and Chuck are together!). I've enjoyed our chats about life in general. You are a great teacher, friend and I'll miss you too!
  • Jon Beard
    Love you both tons!!!!!!!!
  • Scott Allenby
    Chuck and Sarah - Thank you for all you have given to the Proctor community, to our family, and to those students you have taught over the years. You will be missed!
Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
p. (603) 735-6000   f. (603) 735-6300