Behind the Scenes of Starting a School…

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When Rob and I decided to create the Chapman Farm School a year ago this month, we knew it would be harder than anything we had ever taken on.  We knew it would be expensive and messy and frustrating. We also knew it would be worth the work.  I have said to myself at least 3,402 times over the past year,  “if it were easy, someone would have done it already.”

I’ve spent a year learning some fundamental lessons that I never saw coming.  Some have knocked the wind out of me, and some have lifted me up.  Here are a few that have really resonated:

  • Things are so, so, SO expensive. SO EXPENSIVE.  However, there are people who will quietly help make those expenses manageable.
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to take 2 (giant) steps back to take 3 steps forward.
  • Starting a school is a life changer- and it alters a family- forever. Most of the changes are positive. Some are very painful.
  • There is plenty of praise and a fair amount of negative energy from strangers (the support of friends and family is what matters the most).
  • Anything involving the government takes FOREVER.
  • Friends from years ago show up in meaningful ways to help.
  • Every success and failure in life has been preparation for this work… and conversely, there is absolutely nothing that can adequately prepare a person for this work.
  • There is an endless string of tasks to be managed and mountains to scale.
  • The gratitude for people who give abundantly of their time and talent to help get started is overwhelming… but so is the guilt for not being able to pay them even close to what they’re worth.
  •  It becomes necessary to both ask directly for and adjust life (in a big way) to support what is needed.

One year in, there is nothing “easy” about it… but with less than two weeks until the start of our pilot program in Norwell, I can already say it’s been worth it.

I just wanted to give a little shout out to the many helpers who have shown up in a big way to give freely of their time, talents, and treasure this first year… I am eternally grateful.


  • Colleagues at the Chapman Farm School- Jenn Cronin, Lisa Grize, and Maureen Kramer (AND their families)
  • Colleagues at Skills for Living
  • The incredibly kind and generous families at Chapman Farm School and Skills for Living
  • Maureen and Kevin Chapman
  • My Mom and Dad
  • Rob’s Mom and Dad
  • Scott & Tricia Morrow
  • Adam Hayes
  •  The Chapman Farm School Board of Directors
  • Jamie LaBillois
  • The Tremont School
  • Katie Judge
  • Rob, Tyler, & Jennie… especially Rob, Tyler, & Jennie.

One year ago, I had no idea if this would work. We still have a million miles left to go… but we sure are on our way.