Field Notes: Adaptability

“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Toy found in the driveway at school.

How does one write a blog post about Fairhaven School, a bricks and mortar institution so reliant on the interactions among its members, so reliant on presence, when the school is closed? Maybe Marquez points the way: through a meditation on the life and love of the school and its ideas, knowing full well these may dissolve into a trickle of feathers when I try to catch hold of them.

As our families know, since the day we closed in accordance with the Maryland Department of Health’s guidance, my colleagues and I have been meeting virtually to discuss and plan. Fairhaven School is not merely our job, it’s our calling. Therefore, we are exploring the idea of setting up a a virtual facsimile of Fairhaven as I type. Naturally, this creates as many questions as answers, but we are asking and answering them, thankfully with the participation of our wonderful students.

Indeed, a highlight of this unprecedented time of social distancing has been meeting with our students in hyperspace via the Executive Committee, a body we formed at our last School Meeting before closing. How delightful it was to see and hear them that first time! Via the magic of tele-meeting, there they were in their rooms, commenting, laughing, listening, and voting, joining us in grinding out the large and minute decisions before us. Subcommittees have also formed to investigate emergent questions: How can we replicate aspects of Fairhaven online? How can we replicate staff availability? Should we do this at all?

Do we have JC online? How? How shall we spend this year’s book and equipment grant? What will be the rules for Online Decorum? More will come, and already this original work is creating the template for virtual Fairhaven, should we decide to have it. We are so grateful that staff and students bring such insight and experience to this fascinating, collective problem to solve.

Our first meeting of the Executive Committee on Zoom

Because of my clerkships at school, I have spent several days on campus this past week, preparing for a potentially long closure. In addition to completing the myriad tasks, I also make sure to walk some aspect of the remarkable grounds, seeing everywhere reminders of students. While I appreciate the natural beauty and silence, I cannot wait for the wonderful creativity and chaos students will bring when we reopen!

In Chinese, the character for “danger“ or “crisis” also signifies “opportunity,” and never has this paradox felt more true. We are all appreciative of the culture and community of Fairhaven School, and as we navigate the realities of 2020, we remain committed to its continued growth and development.

We also remain available both to our current families and to new families. Please contact us with any questions or concerns. We are certainly accessible!

Stay well, and be safe.

Mark McCaig

March, 2020

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