When I recall that moment, the hairs still rise at the back of my neck. Indeed, I conjure up a feeling of helplessness, and concern about how I would be able to fulfill the professional responsibilities that lay ahead for my day, including a U.S. history class due to start in 10 minutes.
As I reflect on the flood event, I recognize just how dependent we all are in boarding schools on the expertise and caring of a facilities team. If we are to do right by our students, and meet the expectations of their parents—and ourselves—the spaces in which we work need to be well maintained and safe and comfortable. For those of us who live at our boarding school, the dependence on a facilities team for quality of work and quality of life is all the greater.
At our previous school, Laura and I benefited from a facilities team that worked hard to meet or exceed high standards, and our level of appreciation for their efforts was greatest at our moments of highest vulnerability, like when the pipe burst on that winter morning. As head of St. Mark's, I continue to think about a facilities operation in personal terms since St. Mark's is home for Laura and me. My perspective has also broadened, naturally, since guaranteeing a high standard of care and professionalism by the St. Mark's facilities team is, ultimately, my responsibility.
We are very fortunate at St. Mark's to be served by an extraordinarily caring and skilled 24-person facilities team, led by Director of Facilities Operations Sandra Duran. That team ensures the maintenance, safety, and highest possible degree of comfort for 63 faculty residences, along with 52 classrooms, 45 offices, 191 dorm rooms for 273 boarding students, and much more. Our Main Building, which anchors 380,000 square feet of overall academic space, offers unique challenges because some of its maintenance features date back to the building's 1890 opening.