Embracing the Extraordinary
Harbor Country Day School values and embraces the extraordinary individuality in every child. Teachers at Harbor are acutely aware of each child’s interests, strengths, and challenges, and they incorporate that understanding into personalized learning processes for each student. When children are members of a warm, caring community, and under the care of talented and compassionate teachers who embrace them for who they truly are, children’s confidence is bolstered, their receptors for learning are wide open, and their will to learn is boundless.
Differentiated instruction techniques are inherent in every curriculum at Harbor, from our upper school math program to our preschool lessons. This can include differentiation by process (encouraging students to think about and discuss new ways of learning such as literature circles and journal writing), by product or learning format (such as visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic), or by content (wherein teachers vary the materials and/or lessons offered).
Character development opportunities permeate Harbor Country Day School. Our school-wide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program helps students cultivate positive relationships, feel and demonstrate empathy, and better manage their emotions. As students enter the upper school in sixth grade, they are assigned advisors, who help guide students (both individually and in small group settings) through the upper school experience. Through our signature Advisory Program, students also participate in student-driven service learning projects, wherein students are charged with selecting community service projects, planning the ways in which the group will address the community’s needs, and organizing school-wide support for the projects. Harbor’s Advisory Program not only helps students build character, leadership skills, and educational skills, but it also reinforces critical life skills such as mindfulness, personal responsibility, and respect for differences.
At Harbor, we embrace and celebrate the inherent goodness of childhood. We believe in the importance of providing the time, space, and resources for children to be young, while constantly evaluating what, how, and why we teach. We encourage children to grow to be self-advocating, self-aware, confident, and independent students, while still holding onto the treasures of childhood. Our supportive school environment facilitates that process. Since the school was founded more than 60 years ago, the Harbor culture has been one where everyone is respectful, creative, curious, compassionate, collaborative, and kind, allowing children to be free to be themselves and to “take their time” during the most formative years of their lives.
Our teachers place a high value on the innate curiosity and excitement young people exude from the earliest ages while exploring the world around them. Wonder and curiosity abound at Harbor, throughout every grade and in every discipline. Our STEAM program combines the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math into interactive, hands-on projects that enable students to learn about their world in an authentic way. Our Mandarin and Spanish programs provide students with opportunities to learn global languages, explore other cultures, and enhance their perspectives through experiences such as community-wide Chinese New Year performances and Spanish cultural celebrations. Interactive learning experiences including upper school history trips, team-building overnight trips to Greenkill and Frost Valley retreat centers, and the Day in the Life of the Nissequogue River science trip allow children to bridge the gap between their classroom lessons and the “real world,” creating an inspiring and wonder-filled learning experience.
Perhaps one of the most outstanding qualities of a Harbor student is a strong sense of self and a confidence in one’s own unique abilities. This confidence is derived from the way students are nurtured, yet challenged, allowing them to feel safe and supported throughout their education. As a result, not only do they master the skills presented in our challenging core and co-curricular offerings, but they also learn to think creatively and work collaboratively and with self-assuredness to solve problems that come their way -- skills that have become a hallmark of an education from Harbor Country Day School.
Harbor Country Day’s “Portrait of a Graduate” states: “Harbor graduates are fearless learners. They possess the moral and ethical foundation that prepares them to exhibit compassion and tolerance in a global community. Harbor graduates are culturally experienced and conversant in the humanities. They are reflective leaders who negotiate effectively. They are prepared to fulfill their best dreams because they view themselves as works in progress.” This missive guides Harbor’s administration, sets standards for curriculum development, and illustrates the unique spirit of confidence and self-awareness that permeates the school and its students.