Dear Harbor Families,
This past week, I sat down with two of our most veteran teachers at Harbor, Betsy Seery and Debbi Nichols, to hear their stories about Harbor over the past twenty-five years. They shared memories of a Harbor School much like the one we know today - full of children learning in a joyous environment and with support from a closely-knit community - a place where every child is known and cared for. Laughter erupted and stories were exchanged as they talked about their experiences here, and through it all, it was clear as day that the Harbor mission has stayed consistent throughout the years.
Did you know that Betsy and Debbi were co-teachers for a preschool class in 1993, Betsy’s first year at the school? It just so happens that was the year the Harbor School moved from its first home at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church just down the road (we had been there since opening our doors in 1973) to our current location at St. George. Back then, each child learned in two separate classrooms, focused on two distinct areas of their development - the cognitive and the creative. On the cognitive side, the pre-academic skills of reading and math were taught, while the arts and fine motor skills were the focus on the creative side.
According to Betsy and Debbi, community events and traditions were slightly different but just as memorable. There was the “Valentine Art-In”, where families came in to make Valentines together with their children, and an ice cream social where students made ice cream and left at the end of the day with an ice cream cone (with sprinkles!). Back then, the kids took French instead of Spanish, and, like today, had special performances each year - a Thanksgiving/Special Friends and Grandparents performance, and an end of year performance. Field trips were mostly in-house, and the teachers recalled interactive student assemblies about reptiles, a hands-on experience with the process of apple pressing, and a big trailer that would visit the school and offer students the opportunity to dig for fossils and mine for gold. (Sounds pretty cool!)
One of the most frequent stories I have heard this year involves gumdrops! Two alumni students who are now parents at Harbor, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni from several decades of our history have told me about the gumdrops. Apparently, on days that it rained and students didn’t get to go outside, every child received a single gumdrop along with a song. You may have heard it before; the lyrics go like this:
If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops,
Oh what a rain that would be.
I’d stand outside with my mouth open wide.
Ah ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah…
In my office, there are two memory books sitting on the coffee table, from 1992 - the year that our founder Beverly Bonwit retired and the year before we moved to this location. There are photos and memories from then-current and past families. (The gumdrops are mentioned more than once.) If you have a couple of extra minutes one day after drop off, please stop by, settle in on the couch, and have a read. They are treasures of our special school’s history.
After 25 years of service to the Harbor School, Betsy Seery will be retiring. She has touched the lives of hundreds of students during her tenure here (and personally I am full of gratitude that my daughter had the opportunity this year to have her as her teacher!). We are planning a special evening to recognize Betsy’s many talents and contributions, and invite you to please save the date for a family-friendly event on the evening of June 6. An invitation will be sent closer to the date.
With lemondrops and gumdrops,
Head of School
The Harbor School