Student and Parent Testimonials

IMG_6772“Fairhaven definitely helped me. In any other school I would have been restricted; I wouldn’t have been able to find out what I’m good at. And you have to really believe in what you do to succeed.

“At Fairhaven people are actually interested in stuff. You can definitely tell the difference between Fairhaven kids and kids from public school or even expensive private schools—they’re really boring. I say, “So, what are you interested in?” and it’s like,”Uh…I don’t know.” Look at Cormac here: he’s able to look up stuff he’s interested in using the tools of tomorrow, vs. a kid in a regular high school media class where access is completely controlled and structured.

“At Ringling I’m busy all the time. I’m in the illustration program where they’re training us to be professionals. The beach is pretty close, but I never have time to go—my art is so exciting. [On entering a more standard academic setting] It was an adjustment for me. I went to the Academic Research Center and they showed me how to get around stuff—like memorizing names and dates for Art History. Mnemonic devices. But the thought-provoking stuff—you definitely think about all that while you’re at Fairhaven.”

— Peter Carlson, 2007 graduate, now at Ringling College of Art and Design

“Working as a freelance sound editor, half of my job is finding work. My experiences at Fairhaven taught me how to promote myself, which enables me to get work consistently. Fairhaven also helped me transition into adulthood easily. It was at Fairhaven that I learned what it means to do things on my own terms, which is essential.”

— Richard Morris, 2007 graduate

“I can’t say enough in support of the Fairhaven approach to designing a school. The character and culture at Fairhaven breathe life into children and give them the right to be human beings, respected, loved, and listened to… Where else could [my son] attend a school where his voice was of equal importance to anyone else’s and where he could learn to use this voice?”

— Fairhaven Parent

“My absolute support for the school, and the Sudbury model in general, is based on [my son’s] unwavering enthusiasm. Our involvement with the school has changed our parenting, changed our assumptions about education and social change, and changed how we live in the world generally, all for the better.”

— Fairhaven Parent

“I like the freedom of speech and freedom of going outside. Other schools restrict you from going outside. We go to the stream and get sharks’ teeth, and catch skinks in the spring. I think you should at least have a little bit of connection with nature. Other people grow up not caring about it.”

— Student, Age 10  IMG_0254

“I expose my mind to things. I think curiosity is inherent in people. I had my curiosity buried in public school. Here, I read everything I can get my hands on. I expose myself to all the ideas in the book. I don’t need people saying to me, “Here’s this field. It’s interesting.”

— Thor Jensen, 2004 graduate, now at Ursinus University

“Skipping school by faking sick at Fairhaven would be like making a reservation for an expensive restaurant that you need reservations for way in advance, and then not ordering any food.”

— Student, Age 16

From Others

Fairhaven school is a kind of training ground for the next-generation of thinkers/doers. A prep school for cultural creatives. Agency is the core curriculum: all the E-telligence stuff, the intra- and inter-personal expertise that research claims trumps content-acquisition.

— Danny Mydlack, filmmaker, creator of the documentary, “Voices From The New American Schoolhouse”

Documentary on radical free school – inspiring …Voices From The New American Schoolhouse… chronicles the radical education practiced at the Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, MD. Fairhaven appears to be a classical free-school, in which kids self-govern, design their own curriculum, and tutor their peers.

“I went to publicly funded schools like this from grade four to graduation, and they were the most important factor in the way I conduct my own adult life. Attending schools like this teaches many kids to run their own lives, blazing their own trail, inventing their own careers, and trying anything. Useful skills in a world where any job that can be described is likely to be outsourced.

The documentary is narrated principally by the school’s bright, well-spoken students, who are eloquent and passionate advocates for open education.

— Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things, Internet, April 29, 2006

“’What is an educated individual?’ The answer could lie in the fiction, philosophy and history lining the school’s bookshelves. Or in the way children play on a seesaw, swing, stage or computer when no one is telling them what to do. Or in their own words.

‘I judge whether my day is productive by how much I learn, how much I’ve got done, and whether I do something worth doing,’ said Alison Everett, 17…

Destiny Shugrue, 11, of Bowie, said, ‘I hang out, draw, go on the computer, play a few games. Just be myself. I actually read a lot. Every morning I get up saying, ‘Yay, I’m going to school!’ ”

— “Learning on Their Own Terms: A Maryland School With No Curriculum Challenges
Conventions of Modern Education,” The Washington Post, April 24, 2006, p. A7

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