And Away We Go

Vince Durnan
Island School Families,

So now we are all in it together K-12, with Pre-K opening not far away. Time to settle into the routines that bring rhythm to our days and weeks, time to make those adjustments that it’s already clear will make everything work better. Time for me to offer some initial impressions before they give way to inevitable lessons of experience here at Island School. Remember, as an interim head for this year, every new day matters that much more for me. 

Those impressions run in two very different directions. In so many ways, it all just feels like school: young people visibly happy to see their friends, to connect (or reconnect) with people and programs here, with energy levels and excitement pretty obvious. The same holds true for faculty and for the staff who make the place run. There’s an unmistakable and fundamental optimism to a new academic year. Hope you are feeling it at home and embracing all the good that can happen when we lean into that potential.
In that new year’s vibe, it’s easy for me or for anyone habituated to life in school to feel right at home, including a certain level of nervousness about pages unwritten, literally and figuratively. It’s all so familiar, and it’s reassuring in that familiarity. But it’s just as important to notice what’s different about Island School and about this year in particular. Go there with me for a bit.

This is a school community with a big appetite for getting things done and a relatively small resource base for turning our ideas into realities. And I say that from a place of respect. Case in point—the Island School shirt experience. All that cool swag made its way from the West Coast because a parent offered to make the project happen, then when the shipment arrived at the last moment before classes began, a team of staff and volunteers appeared to assemble and sort the hundreds of items, complete with designer grocery bags and magic marker-inscribed names. Then the front office acted as a quasi-bookstore for distribution, reconciling all the orders. And that, friends, is how all those logo-ware shirts got to their new homes, complete with a “gently used” table just outside. Very, very, very few schools could pull that off, or would even try—or need to

To me, it’s one of dozens of reminders so far that we are not a place of privilege and entitlement—it may be a privilege to be here, but we keep it humble at the same time, doing more with less. The world already features too many schools that look and feel like country clubs. Still, understand that this is no easy task. We’re hustling to expand our bus capacity, scraping the dirt to put in a foundation for a much-needed classroom expansion, confirming rosters for a hard-working group of creative problem-solving teachers, and turning the page after the pandemic, hoping for the best without assuming we’ll be unscathed this fall.

If you can’t tell yet, I already love this school community, for what it is and for what it might choose to be next. The ask, so far, is only this—think about where you fit in and what you can do that might not happen otherwise, then resolve to respond. And thanks for reading this far. Sad to say that I’ve totally lost the capacity write fewer than 500 words at a sitting. Will keep working on it. And the invite to come in for coffee and a conversation stands. Would love to learn some of what you know already.

Appreciating every minute,

Vince Durnan