On Friday, September 21st, Fairhaven School lost a cherished member of its community. Tim Craighead, 24, was a student at Fairhaven from 2000-2004. When I heard the news on Sunday I immediately knew that I wanted to return to the school grounds with those I call my “Fairhaven family”. Many others felt the same, so on Wednesday we gathered together for a bonfire in Tim’s memory. As we gathered around the fire we began to reminisce about the times we spent with Tim and of the kindness and compassion we received from him. Sometimes we sat in silence, and that was okay. It was so powerful to simply be in each other’s presence, back at the school where we had grown up together . It honestly felt like a family coming back home.
When talking about Fairhaven School, we often focus on how the philosophy works or how students learn about things such as personal responsibility or assertiveness from our self-directed curriculum, but we don’t talk as much about the things that mean the most to a lot of us. To many of us, Fairhaven is more than a place where we can shape our minds. It is a place where we can shape our hearts. We are not defined by the grades we earn, but by the bonds we create, and these bonds last a lifetime.
I was incredibly touched by what was said of Tim. Two other alumni, Ben Umstead and Kat Steigerwald, put some of their words in writing.
-Richard Morris (Fairhaven School Class of 2007)
One Gesture, Many Moments: In Memory of Tim Craighead
Tim Craighead was a philosopher. He was a student of human behavior and a comedian of the utmost subtlety and finesse. Tim was a bass player (he was my sister Erin’s first bandmate). He was a gamer, a creator, and a voracious reader. He was a sharp, astute conversationalist. Sometimes he didn’t even need words to practice this art. After all, Tim was a philosopher, and aren’t the greatest lessons one can learn from such a soul the often wordless, often repeated ones? These are the lessons that can come in the form of a kind smile, a supportive gesture, or a quiet, caring gaze. Tim gave many a class on the art and discourse of caring; of just showing up, being present; of being a friend, without reservation, without judgment. One never had to hide one’s true self in the presence of such a teacher.
In the years following his time at Fairhaven School, Tim discovered a new passion — acting. When I heard about this, inklings of a collaboration between us began to form in my mind. He seemed to posses just the right kind of vulnerability, intelligence and nuanced naturalism that would be needed to help bring my sensitive artist alter-ego to the silver screen. Earlier this year when he came down for Erin’s final show in Maryland,
I mentioned this to him. He smiled and nodded. He was taking a break from acting but had always wanted to do something on film as opposed to the stage, especially since many of his roles had been kind of garish and goofy in nature. He smiled again. In that moment I was reminded how Tim was a true ally on the front lines of the soul, that self, the world, the noise, that fear. He was a kindred spirit. That which I saw in him I saw in myself. I smiled and nodded, hoping to continue our conversation at a later date.
Tim was a son to Carolyn and James, and a brother to Geoff. Tim was a friend to Erin, Gabriel, Zach, Kat, Walter, Michael, Max, Richard, Caity, Gabi, Brianna, Andrew, Joe, Brett, Jared, Heidi, Melissa, Anderson Shannon, John, his fellow co-creators at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, and, of course, many, many others.
In sharing with you the many wonderful things that Tim was, I have yet to tell you one thing. This is perhaps the most important thing.
It was because he chose to share his brilliant gifts with others across life’s journey that Tim still IS…for that which we see in ourselves we see in Tim.
-Ben Umstead (Class of 2001)
At Fairhaven School students are given the freedom to spend their days as they see fit. When I remember Tim, my wonderful friend and partner in crime, what comes immediately to mind are all the ways we used that time, wiling away our teenage years in the old building, in cars, on couches and online. One of my favorite memories is the day we decided it would be incredibly funny to have a contest to see who could stand at the sign-in sheet –without talking– the longest. We spent upwards of four hours trying to make each other laugh or somehow get the other person to cave in and leave their post. I’m not sure I’ve ever had so much fun not talking to someone! Looking back, I have no clue which of us won the contest, because we were really in it together.
Tim was someone who I never felt I had to compete with, or filter myself around, or explain myself to. We could be silly or serious, pontificate for hours about some wild idea one day or hang out without needing to say much at all the next. It’s impossible not to love someone who you feel that safe around, and Tim Craighead holds a lot of real estate in my heart. I would not be who I am today without his quiet, precious presence in my formative years. I love him dearly, and he is dearly missed.
-Kat Steigerwald (Class of 2004)