Williamstown is a picturesque New England town. It is also a culturally rich place, home to august institutions like Williams College, The Clark Art Institute, Images Cinema and, next door in North Adams, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (otherwise known as MASS MoCA). But Williamstown is also home to Buxton School, a small boarding-and- day high school that has been around for almost 90 years. Buxton is proudly progressive: the students are living an intentional life in a small community that teaches them how to live in acute awareness of those around them, how to contribute meaningfully to the world they inhabit, how to make mindful choices and profound connections, how to think for themselves in the context of others. Allowing teenagers to live in a place that encourages freedom of expression, that is designed to harness and expand their energy and creativity, that gives them reins for much of their school experience is nothing short of profound. And wild.
I’ve been living with adolescents—and living through adolescence—for 20 years now. Teenagers are passionate people with a energy to burn—and that burning is, paradoxically, what fuels them. They remind us what it was like when so much was new and confusing at the same moment when we thought we could finally see and understand it all. Spending one’s adult life in and around these young people is exhilarating and hard, irritating and inspirational, fascinating and frustrating. It keeps you young while sometimes making you feel very, very old.
But it is always interesting.
In this blog, I hope to share stories and insights and ideas and themes that arise from this strange hybrid life I live—I am fully (painfully) middle-aged and yet live my days with a perpetually refreshing group of brilliant, confounding, talented, tetchy, challenging, and rewarding young people. It promises to be a wild ride.