One of the realities of professional life at a school is the need to attend meetings. I attended two today, and they were surprisingly pleasant experiences. In the Communications/Marketing confab we envisioned the future configuration of campus and facilities, and at an afternoon huddle, Mike, Chis Bartlett and I brainstormed the next admission viewbook. Normally, I dread meetings, but I love this stuff, because we're talking about Proctor's place in the world, and there's nothing I enjoy more than clarifying how and why this school is unique and prosperous.
As we consider the next evolution of the admission brochure, we have this immense advantage of using something I try to do on this blog: tell the truth. Proctor has distinct, superior assets. Our challenge--and I'm talking about the viewbook committee's challenge--is to weight, position and accurately convey critical qualities: academic rigor balanced by support, a breadth of curriculum that enables customized experience, and the social ethos that ultimately may be the determinant for more families than we know....
Of course, the entire purpose of the viewbook has changed over the decades. In the '70s and '80s, we were trying to educate recipients on everything about the school. Today, that's not necessary, because almost everyone asking for admission materials already has a basic understanding of Proctor's purpose and methods. They've heard testimonials. People arrive for a visit knowing that relationships here are informal, direct, honest and open. They know that everyone is in it for student success. Today's brochure clarifies, explains, contextualizes and facilitates.
Here's a specific conversation from his afternoon: We know that Ocean Classroom and Mountain Classroom are prototypes; no school offers life-transforming programs within existing curricula as we do. But how do we communicate the true continuum between off-campus adventures, (also including Spain, France, Costa Rica and Morocco) and all the hands-on stuff that we're doing here in Andover?
The answer may lie with our increased video presence on the front page, thanks to the artistic sensibilities of Ethney McMahon, who is creating magic for us.
Today's viewbook needs to by symbiotic with the website, and our website is laden with transparency...enabled by blogs and video. My contention is that the social ethos at Proctor....the climate that makes a new kid feel safe, welcomed and wanted....is a quality we can never truly convey in an admission viewbook, but it is powerfully communicated by word of mouth. We can do this.
A key indicator of institutional sanity--something that may be increasingly rare in this industry--is Proctor's comfort with balancing the roles of athletics and arts. Several schools are marrying their futures to specific sports in which they will apparently dominate. Hope it works, I guess. This is Milo, scoring a goal for our JV2 team, and it's as good as any goal, if you ask me.
Discussion of a new admission brochure raises issues of institutional balance.
The truth--and we want to capture the truth--is that we spend hours in relatively traditional classroom environments.
Nuances such as as peer supports need to be included, but to what extent?
The role of the arts in Proctor life deserves huge representation, because the school has invested great resources both in human and physical resources.
An afternoon voice lesson.
And how do we capture student relationships with adults?
Liam does this for J.V. football. Chad Ochocinco does this in his dreams.