Dear Harbor Families,
If you’ve been at Harbor for a while, you have probably heard me tell the story of playing with that 1970s-style doctor kit as a child. My parents came upon me playing “nurse”, and wondered why I wasn’t pretending to be a doctor instead. To their surprise, I complied and quickly began to lower my voice to sound like a man. In my short life, I had never seen a woman doctor - both “real life” in the doctor’s office, or portrayed in movies, the media, or those early Saturday morning cartoons, so I had no understanding that this was possible, despite the Smurfette “Girls Can Do Anything” poster in my room. - Leah Musico
One of my most distinctive recurring memories from my childhood was “Saturday morning chores”! In order to get to watch cartoons or play outside with our friends, my older brothers and I had a series of chores we needed to complete. To the soundtrack of old-school Ugandan music, we each had assigned tasks…mine were doing everyone’s laundry (including my brothers’ - ugh!), cleaning the kitchen, dusting and remaking everyone’s bed with fresh linens. My brothers’ list was far shorter (collecting and taking out the trash and vacuuming) and since there were two of them, they would speed through their chores far faster than me. Whenever I’d complain to my parents about how unfair it was that I had more chores to do by myself, the message I always heard was some form of “there are chores appropriate for girls, and there are chores appropriate for boys.” It would frustrate me to no end, even as I got older and understood that my parents were simply following the cultural norms they both grew up with in Uganda. - Naomi Senkeeto
When I was growing up in Japan, there were so many rules that we had to follow, or things that we should or shouldn’t say especially as a girl/woman. If I were to speak up, I stood out and sometimes I was told not to say anything because it was not lady-like. That is the main reason that I left Japan. I wanted to be where I could speak up, and didn’t have to worry too much about traditions or rules. When I first came here, I thought the opportunity was given to everyone. Soon I realized the reality was not that way. There were certain “privileged” people and it was not given to others. I am hoping that the world will be a better place for our children’s generation. The opportunity is given to anyone regardless of the color of their skin, wealth, religions, identity, or lifestyle. -Yuki Wilson
Most likely, you have your own story about how your identity, and the perception of the world around you, were formed and developed as a child. Although our stories all happen to be related to our experience as girls, children's experiences span the spectrum of identity markers, as they are constantly creating understandings of race, gender, family structure, religion, as well as other aspects of identity such as clothing, food, and interests. Kids are formulating these understandings from a very early age based on what they see, hear, and experience - in both overt and subtle ways. Although we can’t completely “protect” them from experiencing bias (or creating their own biases for that matter), we can - and must - be intentional about the conversations we have, the kind of community we foster, and the learning dispositions we develop.
Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Philosophy Statement was built upon our school mission, and developed in 2019 by our cross-constituent DEI Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators, Board members, and parents. It reads:
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
We have also developed a set of goals, with input from the entire community, and our DEI committee takes on the important responsibility for spearheading this work. This is where YOU come in! We are looking for several representatives to represent the parent community to join the committee, which meets monthly to plan for continuous actions in support of these goals.
Rosetta Lee, a diversity practitioner whom some of our faculty has seen speak, talks about DEI work using the metaphor of bathing. You don’t just take a shower once and then say, I’m done with that, I don’t have to do that again! Nurturing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community requires regular and focused commitment, learning, and conversations. We are excited that this year, the faculty and staff will be participating in monthly online trainings with an organization called Pollyanna. These shared experiences will further our cultural competency, awareness, and understanding as a faculty.
We look forward to sharing more about this experience with you throughout the school year, as well as to provide opportunities for you to engage! In the meantime, please reach out to any one of us if you are interested in learning more about the committee!
Yuki Wilson, Music Teacher
Naomi Senkeeto, Parent and Board Member
Leah Musico, Head of School
Co-Chairs of the Harbor School DEI Committee