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Social Capital
Social Capital
When this article came through my Twitter feed from our friends at Whipplehill my initial reaction was that this article had little to do with life at Proctor since we're a) not a public school, and b) not a day-school. However, after reading the definition of a school's social capital used by the researchers from, North Carolina State, Brigham Young University and University of California-Irvine in this study, I quickly changed my mind.

Dr. Toby Parcel, Dr. Mikaela Dufur and Kelly Troutman, a Phd student at UC-Irvine, recently released a study that proved parents are more influential than schools are in determining a student's academic success. They came to this conclusion after studying social capital of families compared to social capital of schools. While the definitions of each of these social capital terms are laid out in detail in the aforementioned article, essentially, the researchers sought to measure the level of engagement of families and schools in a student's educational journey.

We, as a boarding school, fall into an interesting place in this study as we are not only a school, but in large part an extended family to our students. Advisors and dorm parents play the role of in loco parentis for boarding students, while those same faculty members are responsible for creating an environment rich in social capital on the academic side as well.

While these researchers argue which side has more influence over a student's academic success, we believe it is irrelevant who has a greater impact on student succcess as long as the student is finding success when the two sides are working together. Our systems are set up to foster significant social capital from both a 'family' and a 'school' perspective as it is our ultimate goal for each student (and family) to feel engaged in the learning process as this short video from Fall Family Weekend illustrates.

We can summarize our social capital from both a 'school' and 'family' perspective by looking at the following facts:
• Students are required to participate in extracurricular activities every afternoon
• Teacher morale is high • Teachers proactively seek to meet individual learning needs with the aid of Learning Specialists and student profiles
• NTA system provides tremendous opportunities for communication between parents, advisors, and students regarding academic progress.
• Advisors and dorm parents make an intentional effort to attend students activities, games, performances.
• Proctor's model gives students the freedom to make decisions, while providing guidance when those decisions are not in the best interest of the student.
• Advisors and dorm parents engage in conversations about school and activities with their advisees/residents daily in assembly, advisory period, or during evening check-ins.

The bottom line is that students at Proctor are engaged with, and given significant ownership over, their educational journey. They know we, as faculty, staff, and parents, care about them, and we have confidence these relationships will undoubtedly lead to academic success.
A recent study determined that parents have more to do with a student's academic success than a school does based on the presence of social capital.
Defined as the engagement of a family or school with a student, social capital is the prime determinant of success as a student that is engaged often finds greater success.
At Proctor, we are working with parents, not competing with, to maximize the level of engagement felt by each student.
We not only must engage with parents on their child's educational journey, but we must also serve as in loco parentis to those 270 students living on campus.
Our model not only provides for considerable communication among parents, students, advisors and teachers, but encourages students to truly take ownership of their educational experience resulting in considerable social capital for all involved!