Sometimes, people find Fairhaven School and wonder where we came up with the idea for such a unique school. In response, we tell them we are a Sudbury school, named after Sudbury Valley School, a visionary place that has been providing freedom and responsibility to young people in Framingham, Massachusetts since 1968. Hot off the presses, here is a late holiday gift: an excellent feature article about the school that has inspired and supported Fairhaven School for all of our fifteen years. Enjoy!
Sudbury Valley School Press also has a wonderful online bookstore that features reams of both digital and printed material to foster an understanding of the leading edge of education, and we encourage our readers to explore SVS in all its glory.
(As we continue our series of posts celebrating fifteen years as a school, here’s one from staff member and parent Beth Williams. Enjoy!)
This collage is from Fairhaven School’s recent participation in the worldwide Inside/Out project. Many students, staff, parents and alumni joined! Follow this link to see a gallery of photos from the remarkable collaboration. Below is the group action statement we provided to the project organizers to describe Fairhaven School:
Fairhaven School is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Every summer, our students, ages 4-19, count the days to come back to school instead of counting the days until school lets out!
ð As Maryland’s first Sudbury school, we believe education can look different! Without tests, grades, or standardized curriculum, students pursue their own educational paths. Students also run the school, sharing equal votes under a democratic framework.
ð We promote self-directed learning.
ð We acknowledge that children need time and space to figure out who they are and what they want to become.
ð We trust that they will do just that, with adult support but without unnecessary adult intervention.
ð Graduates of Fairhaven School are succeeding in a wide variety of colleges and careers.
We want the world to know that education can successfully happen in a different paradigm.
Inspired by the Inside/Out project, we created our own collaborative artwork as a way to dedicate the new Circle Garden. After collecting from School Meeting members what single word best described Fairhaven School, we sifted flour stencils, creating our own impermanent word cloud.
December, 2013... Read More
There’s a saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. The 15 year anniversary was wonderful. We had planned to do s’mores by the fire, but the weather was not so conducive. Anyway, we had boxes of graham crackers left over. It being the holiday season there was talk of gingerbread houses. This is what came of that.
(Staff member Mark McCaig offered the following at the November 23rd open mike commemorating Fairhaven School’s first fifteen years.)
So I looked up fifteen year anniversary gifts, and it’s apparently crystal and I thought crystal watches, so time, how do we mark time? People say wow, fifteen years of the school and I think sometimes it seems like a hundred and others it seems like none, still I cannot describe what happens here, not completely, so I fixate on little things, like words, even a minor word like “or”: in favor or opposed? Basketball or Apples to Apples? Lunch or knitting? Improv or iPhone? Pokemon or Smash Brothers? Poop smoothie or the name game? Thesis or return? And maybe this is it, this freedom to choose, maybe this is the epicenter of Fairhaven, like the student who’s chosen to chart sunspots or the one whose red shoelace I broke when tying his hightops on the basketball court who chose to come to the creative writing workshop and hung around after, dictating his first poem to me, titled The Galaxy In Front Of Ours, who pointed at his head saying the factory of ideas in here are trying to get out. Choices: skateboarder or ballerina? Fair trade chocolate or Hershey’s? American elm or black haw? Deejay or bank teller? Andrew or Joe? Mastodons or cougars? Now or later? Fifteen years, so now we know the answer can also be “and,” as in now and later, as in this room works for weddings and funerals, as in both, still the possibility for “or” even creates the “ands,” and that first year we wrangled about consensus, finally raising our hands in favor or opposed and “or” held the day, and downstairs you can read the record of that vote alongside ten thousand other votes, ... Read More
(Last weekend we celebrated fifteen years of Fairhaven School with various activities on campus, including an open Microphone. Parent Lisa Speigner, who was out of town, wanted to share the following piece. Look for more posts from the evening soon!)
Although writing has always been a relatively effortless outlet for my creative expression, for some reason, whenever I try to write about the impact Fairhaven has had on me I find myself with a serious case of writer’s block. I have found it hard to put into words events that have so profoundly changed me in such unexpected ways. However, with Fairhaven School’s 15th anniversary coming, I was determined to get something on paper to share. I hope I can do it justice.
Aside from the positive changes Fairhaven and the Sudbury model of education has had on my daughter, I continue to be amazed at how it has changed ME. From my first school meeting, I began to realize that Fairhaven isn’t just about kids, a lack of homework, JC, the freedom to cuss if you want to, or some academic discussion about what education is or isn’t. It is about people, acceptance, individuality, and learning to find joy in “being” rather than doing.
Even though, initially, Fairhaven was about finding a safe place for my daughter, it has become an oasis of peace for me. As a black woman in America, I had come to expect to be judged harshly and treated unfairly because of stereotypical portrayals of what women who fit my profile are supposed to be. Sitting in my first Fairhaven meeting, where I happened to be the only black person in the room at the time, I was acutely aware of a strange sensation…the feeling that no one was judging me. I sensed that I was being observed ... Read More
As usual, Fairhaven School students (and staff) got into the Halloween spirit this year. Check out this slideshow.
Fairhaven School celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. With it will come a fun-filled celebration sure to have something for everyone on November 23rd. Amongst other things, we are planning to dedicate a new tree in the Circle Garden, collaborate on participatory art installations, and have a Words in the Woods reading with alumni novelist Max Neely-Cohen.
To commemorate the occasion a new T-shirt is here!!!
I created the graphic on the T-shirt on a website called Wordle.net, which allows you to make visual “word clouds” out of any text you enter. Words vary in size from smallest to largest (and therefore importance) according to the amount of times they were used in the text that was entered. Wordle allows for some manipulation of font, color, etc. (or you can let the computer randomly choose those elements) but after that you just keep pushing “return”, allowing the site to create various combinations until you get a cloud you like. It’s fun, addictive, and is a little like playing a slot machine and ending up with some weird refrigerator Magnetic Poetry!
This graphic was created by using the text from the “about” page on the Fairhaven School website, with the exception of names, which were removed, and the addition of “15years” entered MANY times so it would both stay together as one item and appear largest. I then played with it until things like School Meeting and Fairhaven School ended up together.
With the final touches of the school logo of the Old Building porch with a student in the rafters, and fall colors (the green shirt was a unanimous choice as being “very Fairhaven” by all students and staff polled), the graphic was complete! We hope you will consider purchasing one (or more) of these unique T’s to show your school pride. ... Read More