Dear Harbor Families,
On Monday morning, our family was just in the moment when we were trying to get out of the door to go to school (you know, that moment - in our house, it usually means us shouting words like “shoes!, teeth!, hair!” while backpacks and coats are spread out on the floor and it feels like the kids are suddenly moving slower than ever). Bill and I stopped suddenly upon hearing a joyous-sounding shriek coming from Emily in the other room. We all stopped and wondered what was going on. A moment later she exclaimed that she had just remembered that it was her first day of being a morning car line helper, and that she needed to get out her neon vest from her backpack and wear it proudly to school.
If you do drop-off in the morning, you have no doubt seen Emily and her third grade colleague Jackson this week, confidently helping to get the younger students out of the car and walking them to meet their classes. All of the students have been excited for this to begin as just one of the many ways they are building their leadership skills in the culminating year of our dynamic program. Earlier this fall, planning began with the students having small group “leadership lunches” with me in my office, where we collected ideas about how our third grade leaders could make our school an even better place. From adding a zip line to the playground to reading to the preschoolers, suffice it to say that they had many creative ideas!
Recently, the teachers and I met with the class to come up with a plan of action for further leadership opportunities, to include, in addition to rotating car line duties, a schedule for planning and leading all school morning meetings and the opportunities to regularly read to our preschool and JK friends. The grade three students have even volunteered to write a Harbor Highlights letter, so keep your eyes open for that in the future! They have been invited to join an evening event with recent graduates of Harbor to share stories and hear about life beyond our small school. And of course, as you probably know, the grade three students have already planned, implemented, and communicated a successful election process for the new Spiral theme to begin after the winter break - Long, Long Ago!
It's no secret that our program at Harbor is intentionally designed for the developmental stages of ages 2 to 9, and part of our mission is to develop confident, kind, and capable learners throughout each stage of their development. The leadership experiences in third grade are just one way that students develop in these ways. In the capstone year of the Harbor program, students engage in meaningful, engaging, and age-appropriate units such as Migration, Force and Motion, Social Justice, and Environmental Sustainability.
Also during this important year of grade three, we are considering the best next environment for each individual learner when they prepare for the journey from our small and safe Harbor to the "wider open seas". Our outplacement process in the third grade year is comprehensive and includes meetings with each family with the teachers, Andrea, and myself, as we guide families through a process of determining the right school for each individual child. This is different for each child based on what we know about them as a learner, which in third grade, is a lot - and a lot more than when they were younger!
As a parent, it has been an absolute joy to see Emily blossom with confidence in ways she hasn’t before, throughout the beginning of this school year. I truly believe that this would not happen for her at a larger school or in and environment less skilled at understanding and working with each child to bring out the best in them. And, though it’s hard to imagine life after Harbor for her (there have been a few tears already), she will be ready for her new environment next year. I know this because of ongoing conversations with the teachers, and also the many personal stories and testimonies of families who have graduated from Harbor over the years.
As a proud mom of a kid who has grown so much in five years at Harbor, I am just so grateful to the teachers for giving Emily the opportunity to shine in her own way, every day. And, that happy sound she made on Monday morning keeps repeating in my head - it was definitely the best moment of my week!
Since I’m on the topic, if you are interested in learning more about our grade three program (or any other grade level, for that matter), please don’t hesitate to reach out to Andrea or me. Even if you are a parent of a preschooler, it’s nice to have an idea of the longer term goals for your children and the trajectory of their path ahead at Harbor, and Andrea, the teachers, and I love to talk about it with families!
Head of School
The Harbor School