Dear Harbor Families,
Over the past two years, I have written and spoken about our central goal of ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion at Harbor, and the imperative of intentionality around this work in early childhood schools. As they say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and requires continuous focus and resolve.
Recognition of our students’ individuality within an inclusive school culture is central to our mission, as you well know:
The Harbor School embraces the uniqueness of each child,
and we teach our students to celebrate it in themselves and each other.
Yesterday, six of our faculty and staff attended a local diversity, equity, and inclusion conference entitled Everyday Activism: Small Actions that Make a Big Difference in Independent Schools. The conference was organized by the independent school associations in Maryland, Virginia, and DC; over 50 local independent schools were represented. As enthusiastic conference attendees, our teachers enjoyed a full day immersion experience with provocative speakers, workshops, and affinity groups. We ended the day exhausted, and full of ideas to reflect upon and apply within our early childhood context.
Concurrently, faculty and staff have been exploring frameworks for ensuring that we explicitly integrate diverse cultures and perspectives into our curriculum, and teach our young students to understand and appreciate the wide range of human experiences as they develop their growing sense of self. To guide us, we have been working with standards for social justice (check out pages 5 and 6 of this document to see what this looks like at our developmental stage). This work is continued from last year’s discussions about the ways we incorporate equity and ensure inclusion in our resources and how we handle “teachable moments” in our classrooms.
Finally, you may recall the formation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee earlier in the school year. With ten members representing faculty, staff, the Board, and current and alumni parents, we have been thinking through what an inclusive and equitable community means at Harbor. The group is in the process of drafting a philosophy statement which will be shared to gain input from the larger community in the coming months.
As a reminder, please be encouraged to connect with teachers to share your family’s traditions, experiences, and backgrounds throughout the year. In a school where we believe every child is unique and celebrate that uniqueness, our children should see their own and others’ wider experiences represented in school. What better way than to share with their families in the classroom?
As always, I welcome your thoughts and engagement on these topics, and encourage you to reach out for a personal conversation!
Head of School
The Harbor School