January 4, 2024

Dear Harbor Families,

Our Spiral curriculum is a hallmark of our program and, in many ways, the highlight of the school year at Harbor!

Many of you have heard the story of the very first Spiral,  over 30 years ago, when a Harbor parent generously shared an authentic moon rock with the school. Compelled by curiosity, teachers and students in all grades launched an in-depth study of the moon, reading books, making models, singing songs about the moon, exploring the moon phases, the phenomenon of day and night, making art to represent the moon, and the history of moon exploration. Under teacher guidance and at each developmental level, student interest drove learning across the school, our community was united in learning across all grade levels - and a Harbor tradition was born.

Harbor was once again ahead of its time. Research now demonstrates the power of learning with an “interdisciplinary” approach, where language, math, science, social studies, technology and engineering, and the arts intersect around a topic of student inquiry. Learning is much more meaningful when students are motivated to ask and inquire into questions and reflect on learning, and learned skills are applied in various authentic settings across the disciplines. Dispositions of creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are highlighted and nurtured as well.

In the many years since our annual Spiral tradition took root, students have explored topics such as music around the world, outer space, sports and games, inventions and inventors, the world underground, the animal kingdom, long, long ago… and many more. Each year, the Spiral theme is chosen as a community. This year’s theme of Nautical Explorations was chosen by the students this fall, when our third grade leaders facilitated a full election process so the entire community had an important voice in choosing this year's topic! We are particularly excited to explore all things maritime this year in our 50th year, to remind us of the reasons for our harbor metaphor - in founder Beverly Bonwit’s words - “a place that is secure and protected, a place to prepare for a journey”.

This week, students are beginning to explore the topic of Nautical Explorations in their classes - asking questions, exploring text and online resources, and beginning to investigate areas of interest. Throughout January and February, their inquiries will become deeper and more rich as they explore the nautical world from a variety of angles. No doubt, students' passion and enthusiasm will continue to be ignited as classes dive deeper into the topic. If you have any expertise, knowledge, or resources that may be helpful for the students' inquiries, we would love to hear from you - please reach out to your child's teacher! 

Our school-wide exploration will culminate with a very special celebration here at Harbor, with a student showcase of learning on the evening of February 22nd - our annual Spiral Night! That evening, classrooms will be transformed into living museums, showcasing the dynamic learning that is our Spiral curriculum. We hope you  enjoy witnessing one of the truly special aspects of the Harbor experience, and we look forward to sharing it with all of you in a few weeks!

In the meantime, we hope to see many of you at tomorrow morning’s Parent Session and Open Classrooms event, where second grade teacher Mary Choi, Preschool 4s teacher Maria Cohen, and I will share more about this year’s Spiral curriculum, including an exciting collaboration with KID Museum educators to further incorporate maker-centered learning into the Spiral experience. You will also have the opportunity to spend time in your child’s classroom, thinking about topics of interest related to our theme of Nautical Explorations. We look forward to seeing you after drop off in the morning!

Warm regards,

Leah Musico
Head of School 

Harbor School