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April 4, 2019


A re-declaration of independence


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote to the community about a legal matter that Harley is involved in, one that has the potential to threaten our independence as a school. After a lot of processing and discussion at the Administrative Team and Board of Trustees level about what to do, Harley arrived at the following carefully-worded, measured response.




And so we have joined the Article 78 proceeding that I described in that letter. Why is this so important to us? What’s the big deal?

Colleges insist on academic freedom, as they want the pursuit of knowledge and understanding to be radically independent of fashion or favor: wherever the thinking or research or experiments take us, say the academics, that’s where we go. Harley, and all good independent schools, insist on their right to create the best possible education for their students. While we stay informed about best practices, state standards, the Common Core and various standardized measures of learning, we blaze our own trail.

Ultimately, these decisions really come back to the mission of the school: “… to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow and to lead lives of great purpose.” We blaze our own trail because we’re not trying to go to the same place other schools are going: a life of great purpose is a lofty destination, a hard one to attain. But we won’t compromise on that, and so we won’t compromise on our independence.


A few examples of what we at Harley can do because of this freedom?


Let’s start with The TwoVille Post Office!


“24 of us, working together” to take on a big, complex project, much like the 3rd grade’s Harlic project, the 4th grade writing Pageant, and projects throughout the school. In the 5th grade, a new addition to this kind of project-oriented, student-driven work is Wolf Tank:


The Hospice Program

In 2002, former Harley faculty member Bob Kane invited nine high school seniors to attend his new class. The name of the class: Hospice. More than a decade later, the program continues with student volunteers learning about and providing comfort care for the dying and their families.
Enjoy this glimpse of the program through the trailer for the documentary film “Beginning with the End” that was created about the program.

Our Student Mental Health and Wellness Approach


Lars Kuelling, our academic dean, writes about two significant efforts underway to strengthen our mental health and wellness plans.

The first involves the formation of a Trauma, Illness, Grief  (TIG) Team at Harley and the second is our inclusion in a High-Achieving Schools Study (HASS) pilot program for grades 9-12 offered by the National Association of Independent Schools.

This is a substantial and thoughtful piece on some crucial initiatives at the school, so I hope you’ll make a little time to read this important information here.


Well, it’s finally looking suspiciously like spring out there! Thank goodness, and thanks to all of you for your support of this marvelous school!