November 15, 2018

Dear Harbor Families,

Thanksgiving. For many, the holiday represents a time to share a meal with those we care most about, and to reflect on what we cherish most. In schools, it is often celebrated in a similar way - with children sharing a meal together, singing songs for their families, and writing about what they are thankful for. At Harbor, students are doing all of those things. However, it’s the way we go about these experiences - like the way we facilitate learning on a typical week - that is unique. To highlight two of those areas...

At Harbor, students are actively involved in their own learning. Prompted by their teachers' recent professional learning at a local conference, our preschool 4s class celebrated Thanksgiving a little early and in a new way - as part of a larger exploration of healthy foods. The students learned about food groups to plan their own meal, took a field trip to the grocery store to shop for the ingredients, and worked together to create their very own feast. They were invested in their learning - about healthy living, measuring and mixing, cooperative strategies, and persistence when faced with a task. They were engaged in the experience and were excited to share their learning with their first grade buddies this week! And an added bonus - some students learned that, actually, vegetables are pretty delicious.

At Harbor, we have been reflecting on the fact that creating an inclusive environment sometimes means thinking about the voices not present in the room. The way the Thanksgiving story has been taught and represented in schools over time has, at times, reinforced stereotypes about Native Americans, and represented history in a way that doesn’t recognize or validate the struggle they have endured. Last week, Harbor teachers read articles about the teaching of Thanksgiving from an inclusive standpoint, and carefully considered activities and resources in their planning for Thanksgiving activities. I invite you to read and reflect on this article from the Teaching Tolerance website, which was one that our teachers explored.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I am thankful for the teachers at Harbor. Our teachers - who have a reflective mindset and regularly look at their practices, seeking to grow. Our teachers - who plan purposeful activities that place the student at the center of learning. Our teachers - who deeply committed to providing an excellent education for our students and work hard to ensure they are doing so every day. They deserve our heartfelt thanks not just next week, but every day.

We look forward to seeing grandparents and special friends on Tuesday morning at 9:30, and all of you as well, for our annual Thanksgiving performance at 11:00!

Warm regards,

Leah Musico

Head of School

The Harbor School

Harbor School