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Lower School Handbook


Letter from Head of Lower School


Dear Lower School families,

On behalf of the Lower School faculty, I welcome you to the 2021–22 school year. It is our commitment to give our best to each child and instill a joy of learning across the curriculum in a safe, loving environment. It is through a close partnership with you that this goal will be realized.

This handbook is intended to provide you with a brief description of the procedures we’ve developed to facilitate the safe and orderly day-to-day conduct of the Lower School program. We hope you will take the time to become familiar with its contents.

Here’s to a wonderful year of working together for the sake of your child’s growth and learning.

Welcome to a new year at Harley,

Terry Fonda Smith
Head of Lower School

Table of Contents

General Information


In-School Procedures

Out of School Matters

School Traditions

Faculty and Staff

General Information

Mission Statement

The Harley School Mission

We are a diverse, inclusive school. We provide a balanced education that prepares our students to meet the challenges of tomorrow and lead lives of great purpose.

1. We inspire academic excellence.
2. We foster joy in learning in both the arts and sciences.
3. We promote physical and mental fitness.
4. We show how to care for the world and other people.
5. We empower our students to become confident, life long learners.

Adopted by the Board of Trustees, May 2015.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Acceptance of differences. Respect for others. Self-respect. These are the pillars of a Harley education. The following principles are taught and practiced from Nursery to graduation.

I have the right to have the respect of others. I have the responsibility to respect others.

I have the right to feel safe.
I have the responsibility to help others feel safe.

I have the right to an atmosphere that promotes learning.
I have a responsibility to promote learning through my preparation and participation.

I have the right to have my property respected.
I have the responsibility to respect the property of others.

I have the right to expect the best of others.
I have a responsibility to be my personal best.

Diversity Mission

In “The Characteristics of a Harley Graduate,” a faculty-driven aspirational document that guides our decision-making and vision, we say we seek to cultivate, “A civic person … a pluralist (globally aware, tolerant, appreciative of difference); a respectful steward
of community and environment; and a compassionate individual who knows what it means to take care of another human being.”

A commitment to pluralism and empathy, then, is integral to the mission and purpose of the School. We see a pluralistic and empathetic outlook as a core “outcome” for our students.

Toward that end, we seek to be a diverse community in which diversity in all its forms is cherished and freely explored. We do so in academic contexts, choosing reading and project work that supports this goal; we do so in community contexts, cultivating mutual understanding and respect among our students and a sense of responsibility to the broader community; we do so in social contexts, developing the skills of empathy, appreciation, and collaborative problem-solving; we do so in admissions, financial aid, and hiring, as we invite underrepresented populations to join our community; and we do so in all of our everyday decision-making.

We further commit to regular self-assessment of our diversity mission and the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts to live up to these aspirations.

Commitment to Diversity

The Harley School believes diversity enriches all groups and communities and the individuals who are part of them. Diversity of race, ethnicity, geographical origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, familial or economic status, etc., forms the fabric of our society. The Harley School seeks out students, families, and employees who value and contribute to the diversity of our institution and community.


We are committed stewards of our planet and each other. In this way, we are advocates We are committed stewards of our planet and each other. In this way, we are advocates for a sustainable future. Learning through a lens of sustainability provides an essential framework for understanding our world.

We believe sustainability:

  • relies on a balanced system.
  • embraces the interdependence of the environment, the community, and the economy.
  • builds on the past, is attentive to the present, and aims for a viable future.
Community Expectations for Students

The Harley School expects all students to work to their highest capabilities, to join as fully as possible in the opportunities of the School, and to become independent learners and responsible citizens of the community. Our program necessitates that students have strong motivation and abilities in order to succeed in a challenging academic atmosphere.

The Harley faculty aims to support all of our students in becoming progressively independent as learners. From Lower to Middle to Upper School, we prepare Harley graduates to be both intellectually self-reliant and collaborative as problem solvers. We believe these habits of achievement are not inborn, but that they can be mastered with the proper education and support.

We are prepared to offer accommodations for students with specific learning differences who are able to compensate in ways that allow them to meet our grade-level or course requirements. We work in close partnership with our families toward these ends. However, Harley does not have the resources available to serve students with diagnosed learning differences who are unable to meet the demanding reading, writing, analytical, and behavioral requirements of our academic program. For this reason, Harley reserves the right to determine whether the needs of the student can be met in our educational program. For more detail regarding accommodations and modifications at each division level, contact the appropriate Division Head.

When student behavior is disrespectful or disruptive, Harley will take appropriate disciplinary or educational steps and may require counseling or other agreed-upon therapeutic support.

When a student is unable to meet the School’s academic or behavioral expectations, the School reserves the right to separate from the student.

Supplemental Support Program (SSP)

The Supplemental Support Program (SSP) is a fee-based program designed to assist capable students when learning in School presents special challenges. Our small team of learning specialists helps students in SSP (1) recognize and understand the specific difficulties they have with learning, (2) identify strategies that work for them and assume responsibility for implementing these strategies, and (3) take the lead in advocating for their own needs.

We address the individual needs of learners in developmentally appropriate ways that vary by academic division. The Lower School support program offers more individualization and addresses the development of basic skills and emerging competencies in a variety of settings. Starting in Grade 5, the program supports students in meeting the demanding curricular requirements of the Middle and Upper Schools, but it does not provide remediation of significant deficiencies in basic skills.

School Motto

“Become What Thou Art.”

Alma Mater

To thee, O Harley
We our voices raise,
Long may the green and white
Before us blaze.
As the great oak
Must from the acorn start,
So be our endeavor,
Become what thou art!
Dear Alma Mater,
Thee we stand before,
Pledging our loyalty

Words by the Class of 1941
Music by Webbe

Lower School: The Acorn
Middle School: The Oak Leaf
Upper School: The Oak Tree
Class Banners

Two Unicorns / Class of 2022
Two Unicorns symbolize the virtue and strength of mind and body. We cooperate in work and in play. We cherish goodness in others.

The Horn / Class of 2023
The Horn symbolizes the strength to open a path for oneself. We protect those less strong, and we mature to appreciate beauty in all things.

The Crescent / Class of 2024
The Crescent represents a world of changing forms. It shows us as developing people in an orderly universe striving for peace and understanding.

Deer on Slope / Class of 2025
Deer on Slope symbolizes swiftness and gentleness. It represents growth from awkward beauty into grace and longevity of commitment.

Visor and Swords / Class of 2026
Visor and Swords shows the penetrating power of the intellect with newfound assurance. We combine ambition with courage and justice.

The Dragon / Class of 2027
The Dragon represents us as creatures of courage and vigilance. We grow in wisdom as we grow in strength.

Stag on Chevron / Class of 2028
Stag on Chevron symbolizes the cycles of renewal and growth. We gain agility as we leave shyness and solitude for playfulness and joy.

The Unicorn / Class of 2029
The Unicorn shows us as creatures of dreams, magic, and imagination. We develop virtue and strength of mind and body.

Fleur-de-Lis / Class of 2030
Fleur-de-Lis is the symbol of illumination, the flower of light and life. We strive toward balance and discipline, purpose and dedication.

The Torch / Class of 2031
The Torch shows us as a light to our School, our friends, our families. It represents the emblem of truth and illumination.

The Eagle / Class of 2032
The Eagle is the bird living in the full light of the sun, representing the warmth of life. We strive to be bold, venturesome, and proud.

The Griffin / Class of 2033
The Griffin represents the light of dawn turning to gold. We grow in our own vision of ourselves: vigilant, kind, and helpful to others.


School Hours

8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Lower School assemblies are typically held for Nursery through Grade 4 students regularly. During the COVID pandemic, we will share assemblies live as announced,  via Zoom. Classes will take turns sharing. 

Before-School Care

Before-school care is provided every day that School is in session. It is held from  7:30 am to 7:55 am in the Dining Hall. Before-school care is free and no prior registration is necessary. All Lower School children arriving by bus before 7:55 am should report directly to the Dining Hall upon arrival. The classrooms open for children at 7:55 am.

Extended Day

Extended Day is available on a fee basis from 3 to 5:30 pm for children in Nursery through Grade 4. This is not a drop-in service. Registration must be made in advance by contacting Sarah Murphy at (585) 442-1770 ext. 1151.

Vacation Camp

Our Vacation Camp is available on a fee basis during School holidays. There is camp on most School breaks and as indicated on the School calendar, as long as a minimum number of students are registered. Hours are 8 am to 5:30 pm. Call Sarah Murphy (585) 442-1770 ext. 1151 to register in advance.

Building Access

The doors to the Lower School will be open from 7:30 am to 8:30 am for morning drop-off. These doors will then be locked until pick-up between 2:30 and 3:30 pm. All access to the building from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm must be through the main entrance. Parents and guests are not allowed on campus, with few pre-arranged exceptions. All children arriving after 8:30 am must enter at the main entrance and have completed their temperature and health screening before entering. 

In-School Procedures

Absences and Tardiness

Children are expected to be in school except in cases of illness. Please arrange to have your children here promptly by 8:00 am, when the school day begins. It is essential your children arrive by 8:00 am every day so that they can settle in and engage in all aspects of their school day. Attendance is taken at 8:10 am. If your child is late, they must be signed in by a parent or caregiver at Miss Roberts’ desk, then escorted to class. Chronic tardiness will be addressed.

Changes in Transportation

If your child will be going home by any other means than the prearranged way, a note must be sent stating the arrangements. We cannot honor the oral relay of the message by a child.

Community Service

The Harley School has a community service requirement for all classes, from Nursery through Grade 12. The teachers and/or children choose a developmentally appropriate endeavor to help children realize their role in making the world a better place and to give back to their local and global communities.

Educational Specialists

The Supplementary Support Program (SSP) offers extra help for students with learning needs or differences. Christina Kerr and Marquis Wrightare the Lower School SSP teachers. Classroom teachers refer students to SSP teachers through the Division Head.  Mary Pat Cleary is the counselor for Lower School. In addition, she holds open meetings with Terry Smith for parents a few times per year to discuss behavioral and developmental topics. She is available to meet with parents who have specific questions or concerns.


Beginning in Grade 3, children are assigned homework on a regular basis. It is helpful and recommended that a child have a quiet place to work, undisturbed, with sufficient time allotted to do a good job. If a homework assignment seems too difficult for your child, please send the teacher a note. Students in Grade 4 use a Harley homework planner. This tool helps teach organizational skills necessary for successful homework completion.

Lost and Found

There is a Lower School lost and found area in the main hallway near Nursery Blue and also in the Field House. We encourage you to check both areas often to keep items from being lost permanently. All clothing and other articles of value should be labeled.

Parent Conferences and Progress Reports

The Lower School holds two regularly scheduled conferences—one in the fall and one in the spring. Thorough narrative progress reports are mailed to Lower School parents in January and June.


Daily outdoor play is an important part of our Lower School program. Since Rochester’s weather is unpredictable, please make certain your child has appropriate clothes at school for all contingencies.

Safety Drills

We have several scheduled fire drills throughout the year. The students are taught to exit the building quietly using designated routes and to assemble by classroom on the Lower School playground. We also practice lockdown drills in the event of an intruder or criminal act. Students are taught to safely remain in their classrooms and await instructions.

School Drop-Off and Pickup

Nursery arrival and dismissal: Parents of nursery students may park in the designated spots in the Lower School loop and walk their child to the entrance. Please be quick since there are more families than parking spaces. Parents will be mailed two Nursery parking passes to be displayed on the windshield of the car. (If you need an extra pass for a caregiver see Miss Roberts). Nursery dismissal is between 2:45 and 3 pm.

Kindergarten through Grade 4 arrival and dismissal: Parents of Kindergarten through Grade 4 students who are dropping off may drive through the Lower School loop in one line and let their child off at the curb. Please pull as far forward as possible. Parking is reserved for Nursery parents only.

Lower School students who will be picked up by parents will be dismissed at the Lower School loop. You will be mailed two cards with your child’s name printed in bold letters to be displayed in the windshield of your car. It is important to keep pickup moving in the two lanes marked. It is never acceptable to park along the curb in the loop. People who arrive before 3 pm or want to come to the entrance must park in the upper parking lot. Your child will be delivered to your car as you progress around the loop. 

Dismissal begins at 3 pm. Please make certain all caregivers picking up your child know of this procedure and have a name card on the right front side of their car’s dashboard.

Care of Property

Children are expected to take good care of school books and other materials. Lost or damaged property must be paid for or replaced. Library books are due the next cycle after your child attends literature class or book exchange.

Class Presentations

Each class from Kindergarten through Grade 4 collaborates with specialist teachers to create an integrated presentation on a unit of study that is presented at assembly during the year.


Children are encouraged to wear clothing appropriate for play (indoor and outdoor). On P.E. days, students need to wear sneakers. During swimming units, one-piece suits labeled with their name are required.

Field Studies

Field studies are an integral aspect of the curriculum and enhance the educational experience. We will take all opportunities to connect our students with local experts and areas that relate to the units of study each class is exploring. Virtual interviews and tours can also serve to give our students insights to exciting places and events that are far away. We look forward to being able to travel out to the Rochester community to learn more about our fascinating region and local resources.


This year, all classes will eat in their classrooms or as a group outdoors. Individual bag lunches will be prepared for the children, including fresh fruit and vegetables, a hot entree, and dessert every Tuesday and Thursday for K-4th grade students. Please be sure to communicate any food allergies to your child’s classroom teacher and Vicki Pasternak in the Dining Hall. Her direct phone extension is (585) 442-1770 ext. 1214.

Nurse’s Office

All prescription medication, dosage instructions, doctor’s orders, and parent permission to administer must be left with the School nurse or submitted online. The nurse needs to be notified if a child is unable to participate in recess activities or physical education classes. A note from the doctor is required for extended non-participation or for any limitations on participation. If a child is well enough to attend school, it is expected that they are able to participate in all daily activities.

Phone Calls

Teachers are busy with classes throughout the day and need to give full attention to students; please do not ask for classes to be interrupted so that you may speak to your child or their teacher. If it is an urgent matter, let Miss Roberts know, and she will help contact the teacher or leave a message on the teacher’s voicemail. Your call will be returned at the teacher’s earliest convenience.


The Harley School has very few building rules outside of our “Rights and Responsibilities,” delineated at the beginning of this booklet.

The few exceptions are:
No gum chewing in the Lower School.
No personal electronic devices used on campus during school hours.


The Harley School has very few building rules outside of our “Rights and Responsibilities,” delineated at the beginning of this booklet.

The few exceptions are:
No gum chewing in the Lower School.
No hats worn during lunch or in the theater.
No personal electronic devices used on campus during school hours.

School Closings

In the event School is closed because of weather, radio and television stations will be notified and will make the announcement. In addition, the switchboard message will be updated with information about closings.

Our automated emergency notification system will also contact you through your preferred phone number.

Bus Arrival and Dismissal

Children taking a school bus to Harley will be dropped off in the upper parking lot, where they will then take the stair to the Lower School entrance. At the end of the day, students who ride the bus will be escorted to waiting buses in the upper lot.

Out-of-School Matters


Children gain enormous benefits from being read to on a regular basis throughout their Lower School years. We encourage you to read to, or with, your child for at least 20 minutes each day.

Screen Time

Research indicates spending inordinate periods of time in front of a television, tablet, phone, or computer does not support the educational development of a child. The School encourages you to be selective in the programs your children watch and the games they are allowed to play, and to be mindful of time spent on those activities. If your children watch television, YouTube, or other shows/videos on the Internet, you should watch with them. All time on the Internet should be supervised.

Faculty and Staff

Lower School Faculty

Dr. Terry Smith, Head of Lower School

Ms. Kim Bednarcyk, Nursery Red

Ms. Bailey Blough, Grade 2

Mrs. Sarah Bajus, Grs. 1–5 Music

Mrs. Meredith Cavallaro, Primary 2

Mrs. Mary Pat Cleary, School Counselor

Miss Carolyn Cook, Grade 2

Mrs. Shannon Costantino, Nursery Green

Mrs. Elizabeth Cullum, Nursery Yellow

Mrs. Christina Kerr, SSP

Ms. Beth Fox, Nursery Creative Arts/Kindergarten Music

Mrs. Trish Corcoran, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant

Mrs. Amy Guiffrida, Grade 4

Mrs. Gail Hanss, Literature

Mrs. Marlene Heuer, Nursery Yellow

Mx. Ell Hobbs, Art 

Ms. Laura Joslyn ’83, Primary 1

Ms. Nancy Lindquist, Nursery Blue

Miss Emily McComb, Primary 3

Mrs. Elaine Mendola, School Librarian

Mr. Brian Michalski, Physical Education

Mrs. Debi Moore, Primary 1

Ms. Sarah Murphy, Director of Auxiliary Programs

Mrs. Jeanette Oettinger, Nursery Green

Mrs. Amanda Piazza, Nursery Red

Mrs. Lorie Rick, Physical Education

Miss Tammy Roberts, Administrative Assistant/Registrar

Mrs. Elisa Sharman, Grade 2

Ms. Mary Spaulding, Grade 4

Miss Shannon Spusta, Kindergarten

Mrs. Margaret Tolhurst, Grade 3

Mrs. Jeanne Weber, Technology

Mr. Bart White, World Language

Ms. Betsy Wilcox ’01, Nursery Blue

Ms. Lindsay Worner ’02, Physical Education

Mr. Marquis Wright, SSP

Mrs. Jennifer Young, Primary 2

Mr. David Youngblut, Grade 3

Administrators and Other Staff

Mr. Larry Frye, Head of School
Dr. Terry Smith, Head of Lower School
Ms. Lydia Okutoro-Seck, Head of Middle School
Ms. Kim McDowell, Head of Upper School
Ms. Kirsten Reader ’90, Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid
Mr. Lars Kuelling, Assistant Head of School for Academic Programs
Mr. Peter Mancuso, Athletic Director
Mr. Hugh Higgins, Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Beth Bailey, Director of Marketing and Communications
Ms. Whitney Brice, Director of Development

Mr. Edmaris Hoffman, Upper School Counselor
Mr. Robert Brunelle, Middle School Counselor
Ms. Vicki Pasternak, Dining Hall Supervisor
Ms. Amanda Patterson, Assistant Director of Enrollmenet
Ms. Kristin Hans, School Nurse                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Ms. Jean Maddison, School Nurse                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ms. Jill Richards, School Nurse
Mrs. Cheryl Skiba, Enrollment Office Assistant
Ms. Maria Sommerville, Executive Assistant to Head of School

The Harley School

1981 Clover Street
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 442-1770

©2023 The Harley School

Our Upper School is filled with formal and informal opportunities for students to take on leadership roles. Whether following passions or learning new skills, student-driven opportunities take many shapes. 

  • Independent study: one trimester, full year, and multi-year projects have included automating our solar chimneys, coding handmade musical instruments, or developing a class on financial literacy for underserved high school students.
  • Serving on student council: 
  • STEM: Climate curriculum program, biomimicry program, NASA Hunch program

At Harley, our students learn how to evaluate social systems in order to identify complex problems in society through a lens of social justice. They take a hands-on approach to working for a fair, equitable society by researching, exploring and evaluating different perspectives, and offering solutions—both theoretical and practical.

Our faculty integrate social justice into our broader curriculum to assist students in gaining a foundational knowledge about what makes a democracy function. By gaining skills in ideating supportive pathways they become more exposed and experienced to how communities can undergo healing and restorative actions.

Students may create independent studies with supervising teachers throughout their Upper School experience or, during Grade 12, they can design Capstone projects—intensive collaborations with Harley faculty and off-campus mentors—involving rigorous academic study and culminating in public presentations. They are empowered to create their own curriculum, set goals, and work on time management skills in order to accomplish their objectives.

Independent Studies run the gamut from The Psychology of Sports to Furniture Design to The Neuroimaging of Alzheimer’s Disease. Capstones, meanwhile, are as diverse as the students who pursue them: Fictional Rochester, Autobiographical Art, Biomimicry Education, Organic Fuel, and Rochester Refugees. 

Indicative of Upper School curiosity and creativity, pursuits such as these distinguish our graduates in college. Through deep dives of this sort, Harley students master more than speaking, writing, and computing: they learn to communicate, advocate, collaborate, organize, listen, and empathize. 



Key Programming


Letter from the Head of School

Letter from the Editor


Central Work that Matters: DEI

Harley Black Alumni Network

Climate Crisis Curriculum

Citizen Scientists

Joy Moss: Storytelling Roots

In Every Issue

Class Notes

Diane Donniger Award

By the Numbers

From the Archives

What’s (Who’s) New at Harley

Divisional Highlights

Alumni Profile: Vandebroek

Alumni Profiles: Keller

HAC Athletics

2021 Lives of Great Purpose Awards

1000 Words

Commencement 2022

Reunion 2022

In Memoriam

Retirements and Fond Farewells

Letter from the Head of School

Letter from the Editor


Central Work that Matters

Affinity Group Forms

Climate Crisis Curriculum

Citizen Scientists

Joy Moss: Storytelling Roots

In Every Issue

Class Notes

Diane Donniger Award

By the Numbers

From the Archives

What’s (Who’s) New at Harley

Divisional Highlights

Alumni Profile: Vandebroek

Alumni Profiles: Keller

HAC Athletics

2021 Lives of Great Purpose Awards

1000 Words

Commencement 2022

Reunion 2022

In Memoriam

Retirements and Fond Farewells