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Happy Friday! I’m hoping to write an end-of-the-week note to all of you from here out. The coronavirus madness has us adjusting in every imaginable way, and I miss chatting with you as you drop off your children in the morning, or bumping into you in the Gallery. Perhaps this will help us stay in touch.

Think Different

Launching Harley at Home has really distilled some of the differences between our approach and that of other schools. Why is that so? Why were we able to stand up our program within a week and to adjust, we hope, nimbly and thoughtfully; to offer excellent professional development, mainly peer-to-peer, and continue to do so; to address the equity issues that remote learning brings to the fore; and to re-calibrate our curriculum and programming to keep the experience relevant and meaningful for the students?

The answers, I believe, flow from our independence—our freedom from being told what to do by a state or a church or some other governing body. The approach we’ve devised makes us comfortable with innovation: our teachers are ready to change on the fly on “normal” days, so they have strength to draw on when challenged with something enormous.

The mom of a Grade 10 student told me how her teen’s teachers had responded to the changeover: her Chemistry teacher flipped his curriculum to look at both coronavirus and the makeup of hydroxychloroquine; her Human Rights teacher created a unit on the 1918 Flu pandemic; her Art Portfolio Prep teacher had her students examine the work of artists quarantined in China, then to respond to this challenge: Render iconic movies scenes with the characters six feet apart.

Rapunzel and her dreamy suitor, suitably distanced (for the moment) and masked.

Worth a Fortune!

Middle School faculty member Doug Gilbert ’87 was featured in Fortune magazine about “How teachers are adapting to working remotely” stressing the most important thing is students’ health and wellbeing.

Link to the article:

Processing Change and Loss

While we’re proud of the way the community has responded to this extraordinary moment, we have to acknowledge that there’s also real loss involved. Your heart goes out, of course to the seniors, missing out on their ultimate round of Harley traditions (although, I must admit, I’m not sure I’ll miss Prank Night if it doesn’t come to pass!). Kim McDowell and other Upper School faculty are working with the students on alternate plans, should they be needed, but it’s also just important to say, Yeah, this is not how I imagined it.

It’s hard for students in every division in differing ways; also, each family situation is unique. Shelli Reetz, Harley’s Counseling Coordinator, and her team have put together lots of resources for students and parents, and are available for consultation. For the resources, accessing Schoology is the best way to go, but there are also some available at our Harley at Home site.

Two academic updates

What if Schoology is out? Thankfully, this is happening far less often: last week, no outages. But, should you run into an issue, you can always check here: Schoology Status Monitor. (Also a link from Harley at Home.)

What if I miss class? We are still ramping this up, but here is our plan by division:

  • Upper School: the expectation is that classes will be recorded moving forward
  • In the Middle School, direct instruction is recorded and posted
  • In the Lower School, the expectation is that for live lessons, they’re also meant to be recorded and posted

We think it’s important to record lessons if a family’s technology gives out or if a student gets sick. That said, there will be times when we won’t or can’t record, or when we record but don’t post—privacy issues come up, of course, and there are occasional snafus. Every student in the school has time set aside for video conferencing with teachers, as well, so I hope that, one way or another, we cover all needs.

Harley Commons School on Spring Break

How fun was that?! We ended up with, by my count, 97 different activities and events during break week. Public thanks to Terry Smith, Seth O’Bryan, Beth Bailey and Art Rothfuss for putting it all together, but more importantly, to the dozens of Harley parents and faculty and friends of the school who donated their time to make Spring Break a little better for our families.

Director of Admissions (and English Teacher emerita) Kirsten Allen Reader ’90 teaching writing with an eager gaggle of scribblers….

Kanika Wright-Jeune and Vitolio Jeune teaching dance, joyfully as ever ….

Maria Scipione, Ben Burroughs, and the cast of Onegin….

Rebecca Lee and Noah Lee in a recital….

And this incredible scene in a Harry Potter Escape Room, led by Director of Communications & Marketing Beth Bailey and Parent Council Co-Chair Amy Brand.

Heart of Harley Day

Thursday, April 30, will be the Heart of Harley Day of Giving, and it should be a lot of fun. We hope that everyone in the community will come together in support of the students and families most impacted by this extraordinary and trying time. We especially hope to ensure that Harley families don’t have to make difficult choices about the education of their children.

Harley School: the Minecraft version

Finally, this amazing rendering of dear old Harley, built inside of Minecraft. It came about through “SHFTEW”—Super Harley Fun Team Extravaganza Week—an Upper School tradition. All told, some 40 Upper Schoolers participated in SHFTEW, and it was over Spring Break!

OK! Happy Friday everyone. I miss you and hope you’re staying safe and doing well.