Dear Harbor Families,
My mother tells a story of a time when we were playing with a doctor kit when I was a child (some of you may have heard this story before). 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. As young children whose worlds are still relatively small, our kids’ identities center around the culture of their family, and beyond this, that of the communities in which they feel a sense of belonging. 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 and protect them from negative, inaccurate, or incomplete 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.
Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion philosophy statement and articulated goals support our school mission in deeply meaningful ways - and the Harbor DEI committee, with membership representing teachers, administration, parents, and Board members, serves as a steward of this work. From ensuring that we have diverse resources in our library, to holding parenting sessions about incorporating conversations about identity in the home, to incorporating social justice standards within our curriculum and thematic units, we have kept these goals and our DEI philosophy at the forefront of our daily work. And last year, the committee conceived of a new community event, the Harbor Celebration of Culture, which we look forward to again in May!
We need your engagement and help! To support students in developing essential understandings of identity and diversity, teachers look for opportunities throughout the year to bring family and cultural experiences into the classroom. Please consider offering a presentation or experience, which may be related to a holiday or tradition you recognize in your home, or connected to a grade level thematic unit. Just reach out to your child’s teacher. We appreciate your partnership as we embrace this important responsibility together!
Head of School
The Harbor School