We have just completed a week of instruction during what will be remembered as one of the most difficult times in a generation. We are besieged by a 24-hour news cycle complete with mixed messages, have just received confirmation of the COVID-19 virus in the Roanoke Valley, and are faced with very real health and financial concerns. As a community, we feel an isolation and an inability to regain control of our lives. It seems that things happen around us and all we do is respond.
I have been here before, watching my house and my city being swallowed up by the flood waters of Katrina, a refugee four hours away from my home, buying clothes at Walmart because we only packed for a long weekend away and everything we owned was back in New Orleans. I didn’t know if I still had a job, or whether I was going to receive a paycheck, or whether New Orleans would ever be rebuilt. We were helpless and our lives were dependent upon the largesse of others.
Recently, we approached a “donor with capacity” to ask him for a gift to the capital campaign. This gentleman had been generous in the past but before he made this gift, he wanted us to send him a report describing the success we are having at North Cross School. He is a pretty data-driven kind of guy, so we gathered up the standard statistics that measure student achievement; SAT scores, AP success rates, number of AP scholars, admission numbers for certain selective universities, and the like. Fortunately for us, we stack up very nicely against public and independent schools and I like to think we will get a nice gift.
I have worked with families for many years and have come to realize that there are many ways to be a parent and most of them work well. I usually trot this aphorism out when trying to talk a parent off the ledge as they are criticizing themselves for a mistake they made or, in rare cases, when parents are comparing themselves unsuccessfully to other parents. Fortunately, for all of us parents, God has a sense of humor and he made children remarkably resilient.
I just finished having a lengthy conversation with our football coach, Stephen Alexander. Stephen came to North Cross ten years ago from professional football in Italy to coach football and teach physical education. He later moved into admissions and is now the Director of our Dormitory, working for Wilson International. Simply put, Stephen is the finest football coach I have been associated with and his staff, equally outstanding.
I drove onto campus this morning and was greeted by a picture of Steve Jobs in recognition of National Dyslexia Awareness Day. It seems that the man whose company asked consumers to “Think Different,” also happened to be dyslexic.
Perhaps it is a good sign that we have completed our first week and carpool seems to be the topic on most parents’ minds. It definitely has been a good week and it is gratifying to see so many happy faces on campus. My hunch is that you will have some tired kids this weekend.
But, carpool is an important topic, as we must move 500 children on and off campus in as safe of an environment as we can provide. I know it seems simple, but variables like age and mobility of students, three different locations, mixed carpool, new traffic patterns, student drivers, and different arrival/dismissal times combine to create a myriad of options. While we began the year with best of intentions, the first week of carpool has shown the need for some changes. I will try to make this as simple as possible!
FOLLOWING ARE DR. PROCTOR'S REMARKS FROM THE 56th COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES HELD ON MAY 25, 2019
Schoolwork is a funny thing. It is easiest when approached logically, completed well ahead of time, and reviewed for potential improvement. But for every Ann Ashley Daniel, I am sure there are ten people like me who procrastinate until the last minute, allowing the terror of an imminent deadline to generate the creativity necessary to complete an assignment. Such was the case with my remarks this year. In fact, I was still fact checking while the graduates were in line to process. I am not sure who was most terrified, me, my wife or Susan Baker…
But don’t worry, I’ve got it…
With all construction projects, there are hiccups and unanticipated timeline changes. For the project we are beginning here at North Cross, a truly transformational one, most of the changes thus far have happened behind the scenes, as they hadn’t impacted our anticipated timeline significantly or required a change in our school calendar. However, we’ve recently become aware that the initial construction schedule which included the completion of the interior of Willis Hall (the upper school) during the summer of 2019 is too aggressive. We wanted our upper school students and faculty returning to new classrooms, with new furnishings, in September. For several reasons including lack of subcontractor availability and design process delays, we will need to delay the majority of interior work on Willis Hall until the summer of 2020.
Last week, I wrote about this year’s senior class at North Cross-Roanoke. They haven’t gotten any less talented, but I wanted to continue my discussion by pointing out that North Cross has another 54 graduates in the Class of 2019; our graduates from North Cross School-Shanghai. This year marks our third graduating class from our Shanghai campus and each year has seen growth in size and ability. In fact, we are currently full on our Xinhe Campus and we anticipate opening a second campus of North Cross School-Shanghai in the fall to allow for future growth.
For those of you that have not reviewed our mission statement recently, I will remind you that the first sentence contains the words “college preparatory.” This is not by accident, and we are constantly thinking in terms of how best we can prepare our students for this next experience. So, it is at this time of year that we use college admissions as a justification to celebrate the success of our program and the hard work of our seniors.
Christian J. Proctor, PhD
Dr. Proctor is the ninth Head of School at North Cross and has served as such since 2011. He has more than 30 years of experience in education. He has served as headmaster at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, Grace Episcopal School in Monroe, Louisiana, and as Interim Headmaster at Wesley Academy in Houston, Texas. In each location, Dr. Proctor’s tenure was marked by creativity, innovation, and school growth.