Guest Contributor: Dr. Kameha Bell, Chair, Board of Trustees
Last night the community came together for our Third Annual Celebrate Harbor event, hosted by the Board of Trustees. The event was initiated as an opportunity to meet board members, learn about the role of the Board, and celebrate the very thing that brings us together as a community - our children. It has evolved into an important community building event, with many timely updates. I would like to take this opportunity to share with all who were not able to attend last night’s event the various updates that were provided.
The last time we were together as a community in Founder’s Hall, we were celebrating Kendra’s life. At that time we shared our memories of her. We talked about ways to remember her, her favorite flower (the sunflower) and the teachers shared just how funny Kendra truly was. Kendra touched so many of us so deeply and did so much for our school.
Following the memorial, the Board of Trustees took the feedback and ideas for how to memorialize Kendra, and we worked very closely with Kendra’s family and the Parent Association to identify the right way to honor Kendra and remember her.
I am so happy to announce The Annual Sunshine Award for Professional Development. The award would be application based and open to any staff member. The intention is that they can seek creative and specialized professional development beyond what is standardly offered, and the award will be substantial enough to allow for travel if necessary. A team of one board member, one staff member and one member of Kendra’s family will review the applicants and determine the recipient each year.
We feel that this is an excellent way to continue Kendra’s passion for lifelong learning. She often came to the Board, advocating for teachers and increased professional development.
As part of the Board’s responsibility to ensure the success of the school, we are also charged with ensuring the school has the best Head of School possible. Last fall, Andrea Zuraf informed the Head Search Committee that she did not intend to apply for the Head of School position. Her desire and current passion is to return to the position that she had been promoted to last summer of Assistant Head and Director of Admissions. The Board respects her decision and is thrilled that she will continue to be an integral part of our community. She has exceeded all expectations for this year. Her wisdom, kindness and grace have been inspirational and essential in helping all of us transition through this time.
With that said, I am pleased to share that we have had a terrific response to the Head of School posting, with 14 strong applicants for the initial committee review. In fact the quality and diversity of the applicant pool was so strong that the search committee accelerated its search timeline and is on track to announce a new Head of School in late February. Accordingly, in mid-February we expect to have finalist interviews at Harbor and opportunities for our parents to meet the candidates and provide feedback to the search committee. Please keep an eye out for an email from the Search Committee Chair, Eileen Pennington, with key updates and details. Community participation is a critical part of this process.
Lastly, I would like to share an update on strategic planning. This is another area that the Board of Trustees works in close collaboration with the Head of School to ensure a strong strategic vision is in place. The Board began the process of establishing a new strategic plan about two years ago with the pro-bono service grant we received from the Taproot Foundation to help the school better understand our position within the broader area community. We used the information gained to serve as the foundation in going through a facilitated process of re-stating our mission statement and our program statement. This then served as the foundation for our new website and branding.
The Board was in the next phases of strategic planning when the school community was faced with the tragic loss of Kendra. In anticipation of the leadership change, we elected to place strategic planning on hold and wait until a new head is in place who can be a part of this important process.
Thank you for being an engaged partner with Harbor as we move through this transitional year. I have been so deeply impressed with the commitment of our staff, school leadership and families. Each of you plays an important role in making Harbor the unique home away from home for our children that it is. Thank you for all you do!