The Split Life, Transformation, and Reintegration

I came to HGSE with a clear mission of what skills I needed to gain and how I would apply them to the nonprofit I’m starting, which is located 700 miles away from Cambridge. I’m coming from that community, and I’m returning back to it, but in the interim, I have been transformed. The best education is transformational, of course, but it is harder to carry that transformation back to a place where I am already known.

I presented at EdTalks on the Askwith Hall stage about my nonprofit, Dimensions Family School. We open for families in September 2016.

In many respects, I am living a split life. My husband stayed back home during my year of graduate school, so other than a video chat or text message here and there, I’m functionally single. At my permanent home down south, I homeschool my kids and drag them along on my various employment adventures (the perks of being an independent educator!), while in graduate school I have a full time nanny and we have pieced together versions of public education. At home, we drive to almost all of our activities. Here, we use our bikes. My friendships are different; my social activities have fundamentally shifted.


Learning & Teaching cohort 2016 at Field Day and Kickball – a total blast!

Now graduation looms, and I look toward going home, but while I am headed south again, I am not simply “going back.” I am shifting into a leadership role in my community. My marriage has altered and there will be a readjustment period. My kids are a year older, their relationships more tenuous. They have transformed this year as well.

Two friends, Laura Peters (AIE) and Alice Liou (TIE), helped me transform the TIE lounge into a more comfortable seating arrangement, instead of its prior waiting-room feel. (Future students: move the furniture! Transform your environment! Tinker!)

Growth implies change. It is necessary. Now, as I consider what I want to bring forward from this alternate life I’ve led this year, I know only one thing: Harvard is now within me. I carry the lessons I’ve learned here into the next phase.

This is from the wall at the Harvard I-Lab, which I’ve used as a place to work in order to separate school time from business activities. And also to drink the free coffee.

The transformation continues from this point forward, and I feel trepidation about the coming changes, yes, but also gratitude for all that has come before.

Thank you, HGSE community and Class of 2016.  I’ve been honored to share this year with you.

Charlotte Dungan is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Learning and Teaching program. She has worked in home education networks, independent schools, museum education and summer camps. She has a passion for child-directed learning experiences and plans to start a Family School upon graduation.