True North: exactly what we’re looking for

 

 

The final 2016 holiday season is upon us after what can only be described as a landmark year for everyone at The Harbour School. We go boldly into 2017 in the knowledge that it brings to bear all the good work begun in previous years and especially 2016.

 

Our move to The Grove this November was an exciting turning point in our young school’s life. From our modest beginnings in Kennedy Town just nine years ago in 2007, finally moving into our very own building was a long-awaited triumph. We had always prided ourselves in having a school that was a “real” school as our ethos orbit around the student, but to see children filing down the stairs towards recess or filling The Foundry buzzing with excitement, one cannot deny the certain possibility and progress that infects the air.

 

It’s bittersweet though, as we’ve heard from some - the idea of our imminent expansion. Many of the things we hold dear - authentically differentiated learning, shared goals in progressive and inclusive education, meaningful student interactions, respectful partnership the very things that make us, “us” now occupy a greater, more manicured space and how that all shifts will mean something different for everyone.

 

Certainly it feels right to give those good things a final home at The Grove. But still we understand the important challenge of “keeping things small” as we get bigger.

 

In this especially pivotal moment, it’s important that we stay the path to our True North, the roots of what good schooling is really about: reflective human interaction. We cannot forget that changes in students’ lives were made within windowless rented spaces by virtue of the authentic experiences and meaningful exchanges between the people occupying them. What might have been lacklustre in facility, was absolutely more than made up for in humanity.

 

Perhaps nothing else illustrates this better than a triumph we’ve recently celebrated in the High School.

 

Five years ago, we accepted a student who spoke minimal English with suspected dyslexia. A new sixth grader back then, he and his class teachers worked with learning support to accommodate his learning needs. The process was slow-going and certainly not without its challenges. Through the years, participating intelligently in discourse while receiving pull out for specific accommodations,  he persevered, buttressed by strong friendships and unwavering support from teachers who believed in him. Everyone understood that none of his challenges defined him nor set his limits.  He was given the latitude to develop his strengths and interests, some as far reaching as dog psychology, others closer to home in the guise of film and videography.

 

And in these fertile conditions, the planets aligned. Just two weeks ago he has the distinction of being the first of his graduating class of 2018 to be offered a place at a selective Australian university, transcript unseen, application unsent with a formal conditional offer simply to finish High School. The compelling reason? A conversation was all it took to show he was confident, interested and motivated. He was comfortable in his skin and he was resilient. His history of reading difficulties was just one of many facets, never the face, and this made the world of difference. An excellent videographer and drone film pilot, he impressed the Director of Admissions so much that he came away from the informal chat during an onsite visit at THS before extending the offer with a simple rationale:  “You are exactly what we are looking for. “


And so this momentous year is punctuated by Rex’s triumph, but it is one we all share. We congratulate our community for staying the course as we reap the rewards with this reality: the recipe works. We strive to bring out children’s bests as we prepare them for their future. 2017 is going to be no different.

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