Through a combination of dorm-based discussions and activities, Connect4 seeks to establish a consistent vocabulary, skill set and framework of support for students and faculty as they navigate the challenges of high school together. In particular, Connect4 focuses on the development of self-awareness, humility and empathy.
History and Themes
Connect4 was established through Deerfield’s strategic plan Imagine Deerfield in an attempt to be more deliberate and intentional about residential life. It is guided by two fundamental questions: “What do we expect students to contribute to our unique residential environment?” and “What do we want students to gain for having lived in our dorms/for having lived here?”
To lend Connect4 coherence, it focuses on a single theme each year. This year, 9th graders are focusing on “connection.” The program will continue on to address “identity,” “leadership,” and “legacy.”
Just hours after their arrival on campus, 9th graders travel to Camp Becket in the Berkshires for a Connect4 retreat. Their 24 hours away together — in cabins on the shores of Center Lake — fosters long-term connectedness and inclusivity and serves as an exciting springboard to their Deerfield experiences.
Four Residential Heads lead the Connect4 program at Deerfield. They are:
- Becca Sherburne (Fresh/Soph)
- David Irwin (Fresh/Soph)
- Kristin Loftus (Juniors/Seniors)
- Sam Bicknell (Juniors/Seniors)
Marissa Morte ’12, Proctor in McAlister III
There is something powerful about living with someone, getting to know them better everyday, and eventually having a relationship that will last forever. I chose to sign up to be a proctor because I wanted the opportunity to be a leader and develop bonds with my proctees. The Connect4 program has made my experience as a proctor into so much more than just a simple job.
The first meeting focused on finding yourself in the community. Gathering around Oreos and milk, we sat in Ms. Marino’s apartment. People had to share the trait that they most valued about themselves with the hall. Of course, I said I loved that I am a happy and loving person. But all the girls had their own unique trait. I think that was the beauty of the activity: everyone has something special to bring to Deerfield. That night, we wrote our favorite traits on stars and hung them on our doors. Every time I walk down Mac III I look at those stars. I am filled with pride that my proctees are able to exclaim what they love about themselves to the Deerfield community.
David Irwin, Associate Director of Admission and Resident Faculty in Dewey
During the first week of classes, Mike Schloat came over to Dewey bearing the gifts of a warm seven layer dip and a thoughtful plan for helping our boys to celebrate aspects of their own identities. After a fun ice-breaker, the boys paired to share a personal accomplishment, talent, or personal characteristic that they were proud of. Mrs. Irwin and I joined in as well. We then reconvened as a whole group to talk about what we had learned about our partners. In my experience working with kids, it is pretty rare for a group of teenagers to sit around and earnestly share what they are most proud of about themselves with a then relatively unfamiliar group of peers. The structured environment of Connect4 made it not only okay, but cool for the boys to unveil these vital pieces of their personal identities. We left the session that night knowing each other better and respecting the diverse array of talents that each one of us brings to the Deerfield community.