Dear Harbor Families,
My mother tells a story of a time when we were playing with a doctor kit when I was a child. I told her I was going to be the nurse, and when she suggested I play the doctor, I agreed and lowered my voice to pretend that I was a man. My mom was horrified, having been confident that she and my dad had delivered a clear message that “girls can do anything” (as the Smurfette poster on my wall proclaimed). Yet, I had really only been in contact with male doctors in my short lifetime and had formed my own understanding.
We all know that these early developmental years are important formative years. From a very young age, children engage in the natural process of making sense of the world, in part through categorizing and labeling. By third grade, kids are aware of societal stereotypes and are starting to repeat messages from adults and other input from their environments. As much as we may want to shield them from negative messaging, our kids are listening to and observing what is happening in the world around them in overt and subtle ways. There is no doubt that, as parents and educators, we each carry an important responsibility to promote and highlight inclusion, equity, and justice.
Now more than ever, it is imperative for every community - especially those focused on the education of children - to be intentional about promoting equity and inclusion.
Last fall at Harbor, we formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee with membership representing faculty, staff, the Board, and current and alumni parents. The committee spent countless hours throughout the school year thinking through what diversity, equity, and inclusion means at Harbor. With feedback from the community and with careful thought to every word and phrase, we developed our DEI philosophy statement, which the Board approved and officially adopted over the summer:
We believe that our differences enrich us and make our community stronger.
The Harbor School is a place where we:
Know each child as a unique individual and nurture them to reach their full potential.
Cultivate children’s natural curiosity and empathy toward others.
Develop critical thinking and active listening skills for inquisitive dialogue in a developmentally appropriate, safe environment.
Promote a shared responsibility to maintain a welcoming, supportive, and equitable learning community.
Foster the awareness, understanding, and confidence to self-advocate and advocate for others for a fair and just community
Additionally, in the last few years, the faculty has focused on topics of equity and inclusion in professional conversations. Over the summer, to further our commitment to anti-biased, antiracist practices, the faculty read the book How To Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. Next Friday, we will dedicate time at our professional day to further explore this imperative. Our goal is to ensure 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 are working with standards for social justice (please see pages 5 and 6 of this document to see what this looks like at our students’ developmental stage).
We encourage you 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?
We welcome your thoughts and engagement on these topics and encourage you to join us on October 15th at 10 AM for a conversation at our weekly Thursday Parent Coffee. Please mark your calendar!
Head of School