Harbor Country Day School strives to create a learning atmosphere where our core values of integrity, open-mindedness, respecting others, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion are integrated not just throughout our curriculum, but woven deeply into the fabric of the school's daily life and culture. From the head of school's morning handshake as students arrive at school each day, to the time when the students step on the bus at the end of the day, the manner in which we talk, work, and interact with one another is as important as what and how we teach.
Throughout the school day, and in each grade, there are inevitable moments when children learn lessons from one another, and when teachers seize opportunities to teach the skills of compassion, empathy, and open-mindedness. The way in which a three-year-old shares her blocks a friend, how a second grader listens and responds to his classmate's sharing of a daily current event, or how an eighth grader leads his soccer team in a pre-game talk -- all of these experiences teach children about the fundamentals of character.
Of course, character education is formalized at Harbor as well. An upper school advisory program
, which pairs students in sixth through eighth grade with faculty advisors, supports and guides our oldest students through their years at Harbor. Every morning before school, and once a week during the weekly advisory period, these groups focus on topics such as mindfulness, leadership skills, educational skills, responsibility, and respect for self and others.
An extension of the advisory program, our buddy program pairs upper school students with Harbor's younger students, on a regular basis, to work with one another to solve, build, design, create, and learn together. During these sessions, upper school students learn valuable lessons about leadership, empathy, and respecting differences in learning, while early childhood and lower school students are able to learn from and mirror the qualities and behaviors of their older school-mates.
Each year, student representatives from grades six, seven, and eight are elected to Harbor's student council. The student council runs various social events throughout the year, including the popular "canteen nights" for our younger students that are designed, organized, and supervised by upper school students. Student council also hosts school-wide fundraisers, donation drives, and awareness campaigns in support of social services organizations such as local food pantries, animal shelters, and the US Marines' Toys for Tots program. Giving back and helping others, from fellow students to members of our surrounding communities, are at the core of Harbor's student council experience.
Finally, the ways in which we respect each other and our surroundings, at all levels, creates a caring community and positive learning environment. Students are tasked with recycling and cleaning the dining room; lower school homerooms have daily "jobs" within the classroom; faculty and staff model simple gestures such as holding doors for each other and saying "please" and "thank you;" we openly and intentionally admit mistakes, appreciate others, and reach out to help one another -- these are just some of the ways Harbor maintains a school culture that is built on strong character. From child to child, adult to child, and adult to adult, we all try our best to be our best. It is our hope that every visitor to our school can sense this when they step into the halls of Tulip Knoll for the very first time.