Coming Home

November 22, 2017

One year ago, I moved into the new Head of School home on the HMI campus with my family. It was a wild time. Within ten days, we unpacked a home’s worth of boxes, treated Vivie for a severe case of bronchitis, hosted Semester 37 families over Family Weekend, and welcomed our son, Henry, into the world.

Looking back on that week now, my gut reaction is almost always the same: “What were we thinking?”

We survived the week, of course, and have almost recovered from it. And the effort was clearly worth the temporary toll. Living on campus feels like a natural extension of everything for which HMI stands. The Head of School house is a peaceful and comfortable place for us to live. It has also become another gathering place for our community, where relationships develop and people come together to connect with one another and the natural world.

The completion of the Head of School home marked the end of the first phase of our current $4.5 million capital campaign to build on-campus housing for a majority of our faculty and staff. One reason to undertake this effort, which will fulfill the original vision for HMI, is that it will create new ways we can connect with students and each other, building important relationships along the way.

Sometimes these ways are silly: Last spring, we hosted 48 students in my living room at 7:30 in the morning when they “disappeared” during AMX to prank the faculty member on duty. Rather this this being a burden, I found I had 48 friends for my kids. And sometimes these ways are more serious. I have gotten to know students over the meals we have shared together when was, frankly, easier to bring our family to dinner in Who’s Hall than cook ourselves. I notice little things I’d never see otherwise. I recently received an email from a student who attended HMI last spring. He asked me to write him a recommendation for college, saying he believed I knew him deeply and well. He gave two examples, one of a time when I pulled him aside to congratulate him for thriving academically in a tough class, and the other when I pointed out how he could set higher standards for himself during cook crew. Each conversation had a lasting impact on this student, and each happened because I was present on campus. Being here gave me the chance to turn little moments into big learning opportunities.

Living here has been great in other ways too. Recently, I had to meet with a student during study hall. When I lived off-campus, it was impractical to return home before coming back to HMI. This time, however, my family joined me for dinner and I helped Ellie read nighttime stories before my meeting. I am able to be a better father and husband because we live on campus, something for which I am grateful.

As I look back upon our first year in the on-campus Head of School home, it was my two-year old who provided me with the most clarity. Last weekend, Vivie and I were walking back from dinner in Who’s Hall. I was explaining to her that we were going to a party the next night; the hosts, coincidently, were the folks who moved into our old home when we moved to campus. “They live in my old house,” said Vivie, filling in blanks for me. “We live in my home now.”

Thank you, Vivie, for reminding me—in a way better than I ever could—that the crazy week last October was worth it many times over, both for our family and our school, in order to have a place we can call home.

With the Phase I of our Campaign for Community complete, we are now turning our attention toward Phase II: the construction of homes for faculty and staff. We intend to break ground in the summer of 2018 and will continue to fundraise for a second round of homes in Phase III. This project will honor faculty members by providing quality housing and allowing them more time at home with families. It will strengthen our program by providing more varied and meaningful ways for students and faculty to build relationships. Finally, it will ensure our fiscal sustainability by capitalizing a portion of benefits, allowing HMI to improve compensation without adding to the operating budget.

For more information on the campaign, please contact Reed Holden, Director of Development, or visit our campaign page.