Getting Real

Vince Durnan
Island School Families,

It’s not even late August, and things feel like we’re almost up to full speed at Island School. The first round of challenges faced, the first round of solutions mostly found, the rhythms of the day settling in. If we’re not careful, we might miss the power of the moment. My guess is that we’re so happy to be back in what feels pretty normal in terms of routines that we’re tempted to not even stop and think about being here. Consider yourself forgiven if so—it has been a rough couple-year ride to get to this point.
But really, consider the accomplishments. In the face of a huge crisis in commercial driver availability, we managed to increase our shuttle availability and capacity. In the face of the Great Resignation for teachers, we’ve welcomed a larger than usual (maybe ever) group of dedicated, talented, and resourceful new faculty. In the face of an especially difficult construction climate, we just poured footers for a new building. And in the midst of global uncertainty on many fronts, we convened a record number of families to create this next iteration of the Island School community. And btw I can claim essentially no credit for any of the above—am just an admirer trying to help around the edges.
My sense is that lots of people worked on lots of fronts to get us to these milestones. They paid attention to the little things and persisted, head down and dedicated. Which raises the question of the lessons to be applied for all of us, household by household. My suggestion, as a fun uncle for now, is that we all pay attention to our daily patterns before they become something we just take for granted, before the mortar sets. Stacks of studies say it helps.

That means thinking about what time we let the chicken sounds get us out of bed, committing to who makes, or finds, or buys lunch and snack, doing our best to get back together for dinner, setting time aside for some learning after that, and getting heads back on the pillow in time to get us ready do it again the next day, reasonably rested. As tough as that all clearly is, especially with traffic and commutes, it’s even tougher without any sense of a plan. Picture things going really well and work backwards from there, into the details.

For a while now, we’ve been used to not being able to count on our plans. We needed, out of necessity, to keep resetting—we've heard people say “pivot” way too much. For me it felt like bad luck to expect anything with certainty. There’s no doubt that took a toll on everyone, and especially on children, in some quiet ways and some not so quiet. Well, that was then, and now we get to start new. It feels different, right? As much as no one likes to get in a rut, it can be really good to be on a well-worn pathway. Let’s make a point of setting our courses on purpose, starting with the basics—we can always change and adjust them, as conditions indicate.

Here's to you as trusted navigators in this particularly important year for the school,

Vince Durnan

ps- door is open for coffee whenever your schedule works.