By Rachael Jennings
Imagine being a Freshman in a new school. Imagine walking around after returning from a three-day camping trip, but you are returning to a place where you know no one except those you’ve just bonded with on the trip, but they’ve all gone off to their dorms. You are a day student, and you aren’t sure where to go. You are tired from your recent adventure in the wilderness, your hair is tangled with campfire smoke and unwashed sweat, and you are not sure what to do: call your parents? Check the student center? Meet your fellow Freshmen somewhere?
Imagine looking around for anyone familiar and seeing no one.
Imagine, then, this: a friendly face appears and asks you how you are doing.
The speaker is a Proctor, your Proctor, someone you knew from childhood but hadn’t seen much in the last four years, as she is a Senior and you are a Freshman.
She strikes up a conversation, which eases your nerves. She asks you about your camping trip. She smiles and seems to genuinely want to know the answer to each question.
When you ask her where you are supposed to be—is there a campus event or something you should be on campus for?—she offers that you come to her home and share a snack, make some food, relax and chat. Where you felt untethered and uncertain, you now feel reassured. This Proctor is sharing her home with you, making you feel welcome to the home that will be yours for the next four years.
Grace Harrington’s camping trip was a canoe trip: “three days completely out of [her] comfort zone, and when [she] got back, [she] felt so lost.”
Fiona Johnson ’16, Grace’s Day Student Proctor, said, “Hey Grace, you can come to my house and take shower, have a snack, and then we can come back to school for festivities.”
“The fact that she did that for me and was so kind was really special,” says Grace. “It carried over to everything Fiona did—that kind of kindness and generosity.”
From this first impression of the impact a Proctor can have, Fiona continued to show Grace kindness and generosity. Grace, to this day, speaks about the way that Fiona treated people as a standard for how she, too, wants to treat others.
Fiona helped shape Grace’s story at Dublin.
“Fiona inspired me because of her kindness,” says Grace. “She cared so much about all of the Day students and everyone at school in general. She was an exemplary listener, but she was also really good at giving advice. She would always tell me, ‘It’s okay. Everything is fine. These aren’t the things that really matter that much. You have to work to let it go,’ whenever I would get stuck on little things. She would help me think about what really matters to me. And, in the end, some of those things didn’t really matter.”
She set an example for Grace, and she helped Grace set perspective in ways that she carries with her today.
GH Werowinski, the Proctor of Lehmann’s Freshman boys, like many current Proctors, cites a Proctor he had as his inspiration for who he is today and how he leads the dorm.
His Proctor Tyler Jones, in GH’s words, “was a really relaxed and confident guy who never flaunted the fact that he was a Proctor.”
“He held us all to a very high standard without ever having to say it. He balanced being very relaxed and calm while being a leader—but never an overwhelming leader. He was really kind and good, and he never flaunted it.”
“For White Glove, he was always reminding us of the little things. You would know what you had to do. If your room was a complete mess, he would point out one thing, and you would just know. He instilled knowing that we had to keep our space clean without saying ‘go clean your rooms.’ Instead of saying, ‘Go clean the Commons,’ he would say, ‘Go look at the Commons.’ We would realize and learn and then act.”
GH learned how to lead in a fair, inviting way; rather than take an authoritarian role and command his Freshmen to complete tasks or fix issues, he learned from Tyler how to show people what to do, to lead by example, and to be steady and kind for others.
GH reminisces on some of Tyler’s particular character traits and the lessons he taught by example. One had to do with perspective-taking.
“He never complained about his homework. Ever. But every time we complained, like ‘ahh God, I have so much homework,’ going on and on, Tyler would say, ‘Well, you know what I do every night after you go to bed? After you all are asleep? I read 100 pages for English class.’”
“Tyler knew us, he knew what we were up to, and he showed us how to be respectful and how to know what to do,” says GH. Like GH said previously, Tyler taught them how to “realize, learn, and act.”
For Nick Lemieux ’16, his Freshman year Proctor, Tyson Laa Deng, inspired him and taught him a great deal about character, respect, and brotherhood.
“From the beginning Tyson made sure that we were a family; he was always there asking each and every one of us if we needed help with our work or just asking us how our day was,” Nick says. “By the end of the year, everyone gained each other's trust, and throughout the next three years, that brotherhood never went away.”
Tyson’s impact, as is the case for many Proctors, outlived his time at Dublin.
Nick learned about leadership from Tyson.
“He taught me [...] to always treat people with respect. If you treat someone poorly, then you can expect to be treated poorly in return. This skill went a long way for everyone in my dorm freshman year because it helped every build trust for each other,” Nick explains.
Tyson also taught the dorm how to embrace spontaneity and fun.
“One special memory I have of Tyson was around Christmastime when we came back from study hall one night. Tyson was sitting in his room playing the guitar, and then all of the sudden, he came out into the Commons and said: ‘Go put on your jackets. We are going Caroling.’”
That night, the whole dorm sang carols to other dorms, racing across campus, stopping to sing for the security guard, too.
“Then the following morning, Mr. Bates requested an encore presentation, so we sang for the entire school at the end of Morning Meeting.”
These memories—this brotherhood—that Tyson helped create lasted long beyond the moment and long beyond that first year.
Imagine receiving a handwritten letter from someone before you arrive to a new place. The letter welcomes you, tells you about all that you will grow to love about the community, shows you that you will have someone to talk to, to say hello to when you arrive.
Before Matt Coffin ’16 arrived to Dublin his first year, he received such a letter from his soon-to-be Proctor, Charlie Imhoff.
“When I finished reading the letter, I was taken aback because this guy had only met me during my tour and has already gone out of his way to tell me how excited he was to get to know me,” says Matt. “This helped make my introduction a lot better and took away a lot of my anxiety. I still have the letter with me today.”
“Dublin taught me not to quit when things got tough and to have pride in what I do,” Matt elaborates. “I wasn't a very good student or a serious athlete coming in as a freshman. My teachers recognized it and put aside time in the day to do a five-minute chat to tell me what I need to focus on to understand the topic we were covering that week. They taught me not to be afraid to ask for help from a teacher and in turn, I became a better student and started taking pride in my work. This has helped me get to where I am today and will continue to help me in the future.”
But it wasn’t just Matt’s teachers who shaped his story, changed his perspective, gave him tools that he carries in his life beyond Dublin. It was his Proctor.
“Charlie was a coxswain on the rowing team during my freshman year. The job of the coxswain is to steer the boat and keep the rowers focus and motivated.” In one of the more challenging regattas of his early career, “The Novice Challenge,” Matt had the opportunity to row in Charlie’s boat.
“At the time, Charlie was the best coxswain on our team, so we knew we had to pull hard. During the race, we were in third place closing in on second, and even though we were all tired, Charlie kept us going into the last 300 meters, which is the sprint,” says Matt. “At this point, I felt exhausted, but when Charlie yelled to us that we were moving into second place, I knew I could go a bit longer. With a half boat length to spare, we took silver in that race. That day I told myself that I would row as long as I could, which still holds true today. Charlie's leadership set the bar for me on and off the water. I can say without a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be the man I am today without a role model like Charlie Imhoff.”