State of the School Speech at Harbor City International School
Given by John Haire, Ph.D. on Feb. 14, 2012
Harbor City International School is 10 years old, young enough to enjoy the wonderment of imagination, and old enough to develop true measures of independence. Our clarity of purpose, our labors toward effectiveness, and our willingness to reflect on our methods give us our identity. As with all great journeys, we have faced, and continue to face, many challenges. Yet, our confidence that we are a valuable resource to the families of Duluth remains undaunted.
For our own reflection, satisfaction, and edification, let us take a few moments and articulate the growth and value of our school. Among our greatest qualities is that we are a small, safe school for kids. Our students attend school free from fear or worry that they will be the targets of derision or contempt. Our school values and nurtures individuality and diversity.
We support our students. From Base Camps to tutoring labs, from each teacher to our guidance counselor, from our social worker to our Directed Studies classes, we provide a consistent message that we care for each student and that we will do everything in our power to promote his/her success. Our assemblies are organized to recognize effort as much as achievement; character on par with academics. Mention a student and every teacher within earshot will turn with full knowledge of the student’s challenges and strengths.
We have created a vibrant life outside the classroom. Our emerging intramural program, where everyone gets to participate, YMCA memberships for each student, Mock Trial, Jazz Band, String Band, Science Olympiad, Knowledge Bowl, the Climbing Club, Coffee House, Student Senate, Chess Club, the list goes on of opportunities for growth and excitement.
While all of these qualities are important, the improvements in our academic program holds center stage in our evolution. Our students ACT scores are on par with Minnesota means at 22.7/22.9. In all categories of the Measures of Academic Progress (mathematics, reading, language usage, general science, and science concepts) our students surpass national averages. Our proficiency in reading is 86% and our mathematics proficiency has jumped more than 26%. Our curriculum now includes three Advanced Placement courses and numerous honors courses.
Additionally, each year our curriculum gains strength, our academic program becomes more effective, and our teacher evaluation process improves, ensuring a strong community of instructors who will improve their students’ futures. Collectively, the faculty is engaged in an ongoing conversation about effective teaching based on research from the National Academies. In fact, our faculty spends more time discussing teaching and learning than any faculty with whom I have worked for the past thirty years.
The staff, parents, and students of Harbor City International School have created a wonderful educational community. The progress of our school must become the focus of our conversations and we must work together to ensure that all Duluth’s families are aware of the opportunities that are available within our school.
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