- Albert Schwitzer
Our team has a lot to be grateful for, this season and all year-round. And this is our attempt to publicly celebrate those individuals who have been particularly helpful...
From Lisa Diffenderfer:
- Jesse Lara – Thank you for the support, particularly in deploying/maintaining the K-2 iPad program. You are always so flexible, attentive, and knowledgable.
- Brian Oldziewski - Thank you for all of the network support, particularly in deploying/maintaining the 3rd-5th Grade Chromebook program. You never get to see the fruits of your labor, but please trust that the fruit is plentiful!!!
- 1st and 2nd Grade Math and Language Arts teachers – Thank you for using the iPads and Virtual Reality Kits for such meaningful and enriching activities in your classrooms. I would love to be one of your students who has the opportunity to develop new skills in a variety of dynamic activities.
- 5th Grade teachers – Thank you for constantly keeping me on my toes by implementing new tools and innovative teaching methods. My work experience and your students’ learning experience is far more fulfilling because of your willingness to try new tools and techniques.
From Scott Kley-Contini:
- Kathy Peng - building amazingly engaging activities in Science. Fidget spinners in Physics really had students diving deep and it is apparent the amount of energy and thought that went into creating the project.
- Raji Swaminathan - always trying to work STEAM into the curriculum. I am always happy to open the doors of the Innovation lab whenever I can to your classes. You were one of the first people to take advantage of the Innovation Lab and one of the most consistent users all year long. I love watching the level of excitement on the students' faces when they get to work on one of your projects.
- Thomas Artiss - pushing the limits of student exploration into the life sciences. From 3D printed water filters to microorganisms in termite digestive tracts, it is amazing to see students doing hands-on innovative science!
- Pat Burrows - embracing design thinking principles in English and really helping students find the "Why" in what they do.
- Steven Hewitt - getting outside of your own comfort zone on a regular basis with the needs of your students always at the forefront!
- Sarah Pawloski - keeping the learning purposeful and relevant is a challenge you take head on and with such ease! I really appreciate seeing all that you do with your students, engaging them and pushing them to think more critically about the world around them.
- Melanie Ramsey - It is amazing to watch your classroom transform! The experience students have being immersed in such a thoughtful experiential environment is truly magnificent!
- Jennifer Walrod - So few get to see the amount of energy you put into student global experiences. I was happy to be a part of the recent Tamagawa visit and am blown away by all that you accomplish with visitors and global experiences for our students.
- Rebecca Williams - You are constantly trying to find ways for students to see the impact they can have on the world around them. The real-world experiences you bring into your classroom really inspires our students to think deeply and with purpose.
- Keith Hirota - you are constantly striving to engage your students with innovative teaching approaches. No matter what it is, you are always looking for the most impactful experience your students can have and your level of commitment to learning is apparent.
From Diane Main:
- Kate Schafer - for being a supportive friend as well as an enthusiastic adopter of new ideas, and for her including me in Marine Biology in ways that keep my love for the subject matter alive
- Diana Moss - for bravely trying out Instagram with her estudiantes and always being positive about new ideas
- Bob Elmensdorp, Thomas Downard, and JR DelAlto - for all their work on my new office furniture, including the unexpected “some assembly required” of my new tables
- Brian Oldziewski - for always lending a hand to make sure my network needs are met, my Minecraft servers are humming along, and my Digital World students are clued in on network and computer architecture
- Christopher Hurshman -- for musical accompaniment, ridiculous dancing in the stands at that football game, and being a sounding board for all my ideas
- Brian Larsen - for fielding my MANY questions, also dancing at that game, and SMOOSH
- Agnès Pommier - for diving in with both feet from her first days at Harker, looking for new ways to engage her students, and having me come in to work with them while she learns alongside them
- Beverley Manning - for sacrificing her classroom during period 2 this semester for my Digital World class and being a very gracious host
- Keiko Irino and Yumiko Aridomi - for maintaining a great ongoing “pen pal” program that engages students and brings me in at least once a year to coach them on creating videos (and also for encouraging my burgeoning Nihongo attempts)
- Mark Janda - for unknowingly throwing me in at the deep end of digital textbooks and resources so I learned a lot real fast, and for listening and supporting me as I seek to better understand how I can become an ally and accomplice (this last part is for Lola Muldrew, Pilar Agüero-Esparza, and Josh Martinez too)
- Jeanette Fernandez and Jane Keller - for fielding all my questions and listening to all my stories and helping me clarify what I believe and understand
- ALL my amazing upper school faculty - for turning to me and trusting me with their apprehension and questions so we can all better serve our kids and make their time here engaging and fulfilling
I am eternally grateful for the warmth that everyone has extended to me in my first few months here with you. It is difficult for me to call out each individual, because I do feel grateful for each and every one of you. So, I offer the gift of a True story to all of you.
In the last twelve months, I've lost my father, gave birth to our sweet baby Jackson Alexander, and then one month later, lost my mom and best friend after a brave battle with a spinal cord injury, paralysis and multiple infections. One week after I lost my mom, I had my first interview with Jennifer Gargano for this very position. To say I was in a vulnerable position would be an understatement.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
My mom was an English Teacher, and then a Counselor. She believed in, and lived with kindness, gratitude and a staunch belief in balance and trusting the process, living the process and fighting to ensure that the process (of anything) was not overlooked. This provoked LONG late-night conversations through my childhood and young adulthood, wherein she'd force me to "do an autopsy" on a relationship, a test, an essay, a job...you name it.
I miss those "autopsies" now...painfully.
When I became part of your Harker family, I felt it, and it took my breath away - partly because of my own loss of family, and partly...largely...because YOU have made this a family. And a beautiful family, at that. I have been a part of many staffs - some worth replicating, and some not. And the Harker Family isn't about being "replicable". You are real. And so I leave you with this - it is an excerpt that hangs in my home, as it has since childhood, and it was also a reading that my mom gave at my wedding.
So, thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for being a family. And thank you for being real.
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit