Happy Spring from Harmony!
Spring is in the air, and even more exciting is that Monday the 29th is Harmony's in-person reopening. In-person for the first time for most of our students since last March! This school year only our youngest students in the Early Childhood Program have been in-person, with a handful of other students coming in to take advantage of an online learning center, and some meetups of elementary students outside on the school grounds when weather allowed. But starting next week, nearly 70% of our 3 year olds through 8th graders are returning in-person in full-time or hybrid schedules. The rest of the kids and the high school are remaining online at least through early May.
When I was at the school yesterday, not only were flowers and trees blooming but the entire building and campus was buzzing with activity. Setting up outside tents for some classrooms, thorough cleaning of rooms, hallway floors, bannisters, etc, and moving furniture into new classrooms. I will be in the parking lot on Monday to celebrate!
This Spring issue of Harmony News includes:
- Reflections from current teachers: Linda in the ECP, Kelli in the middle school, and Jamie in the high school
- Congrats to Judah Thompson, Harmony's first swimming champion in the Counsilman Classic Bloomington High School Swim & Diving Meet back in January
- Alumni in the news: Two recent stories recognizing the accomplishments of alumni Joel Washington and Nick Palmer
- Spotlights of Harmony alumni working in education: Dara Bode and Savannah Michel
- and, because we are anxiously awaiting the return of the 17-year cicadas this May, a great video from 2004 featuring students from Kathy Boone and Scott Evans' class, learning about - and eating! - cicadas.
We will update you on how we managed our reopening and the cicada invasion in our next newsletter at the end of the school year...
All the Best,
2004 video of Harmony students: WTIU PBS Friday Zone episode "Season of the Cicadas"
We're in for a big cicada season this spring as the cicadas known as Brood X emerge once again in our region. Brood X is the largest of the 17-year cycle broods, and the heaviest concentration of them in our state will be right here in south-central Indiana! In 2004, when the Brood X cicadas last emerged in Bloomington, Harmony students from Kathy Boone and Scott Evans' 5th/6th grade class were featured in this WTIU PBS Friday Zone episode, "Season of the Cicadas." (Featured students: Hannah Drew, Asher Thompson, Malachi Broadwater, Annie Dill, Ross McKinney, Raven Fristoe, and Justin Saucier.) At around minute 22 you'll see students tasting some cicada treats!
Video: Judah Thompson competing in the 100 yard freestyle. See video of the whole meet here - the 200 yard IM race starts at 40:35.
Students Kobe and Judah Thompson represented Harmony at the Counsilman Classic Bloomington High School Swim & Diving Meet on January 23
Congrats to Judah, city champion of the 100 yard freestyle and 200 yard individual medley races!
Two great ways to support Harmony this spring - get out to May's Greenhouse this weekend and mention you want to support Harmony when you checkout, and stock up on masks from Lutema!
Early Childhood Program Updates
by Linda Lewis, ECP teacher
Spring is here and ECP kids are so happy to be outside again! We limited our hours and moved our very small ECP pod inside for the coldest, snowiest weeks of winter, after being outside all fall and through the beginning of winter. This week we are back in session outdoors with longer hours again. We have a few more kids now too, bringing our small group up to around 10, and Kelleigh Jurers joins Linda Lewis as an additional teacher.
Reflections on Deep Play in Early Childhood
I've been thinking about something that I call deep play. It's when kids play together uninterrupted for longer stretches of time and become really engrossed in what they're doing. It doesn't happen when teachers are getting involved in their play and it doesn't conform to adult schedules. Deep play is when they use their imagination, solve problems, make discoveries, and figure things out. It's the time when social skills are learned and relationships are built. It increases their attention span and develops their ability to concentrate. Deep play is when children learn to be pleased with themselves without the approval of an adult. It's less about "Hey teacher, look at me!" and more about feeling a sense of accomplishment within one's self. I believe it is what their brains are most benefited by at this age. They are built for it. When conflicts emerge it can be hard to resist wanting to impose an adult concept of fairness, but as long as the kids are working it out and no one is getting their feelings or bodies hurt, I believe they will learn more without my intervention than with it.
Growing through the Pandemic: Lessons Learned by our Middle Schoolers
by Kelli Debikey, Middle School teacher
Read full article.
Goodness...middle school is tough! I have said for many years that I teach middle school because I never let go of my teenage angst, and this year maybe more so than ever. It is a tough year! I cannot tell you how much I want to slam my computer shut every time I have to ask a student to show their face (just for a minute), or yell into the pandemic abyss when I have to send another email or text to remind students of an assignment or to attend class. But I don’t, other teachers don’t, and even the students don’t (at least not every time). We acknowledge that this is our time to learn hard lessons. These middle school students are learning lessons far beyond their age and expectation. They are learning hard and soft skills that we always spend time on in middle school, but this year they are really getting the opportunity to apply them.
I think that teenagers who are living through this current time are going to walk away from this year being more prepared for their future. They are being forced to practice these skills before they normally would. I am very proud of my students this year and how hard they are working to overcome these challenges. They aren’t perfect, and neither am I, but we are all working hard to support each other and to do better each day. This is what I remind myself when I get frustrated and want to slam the computer. We are not just all doing our best, but better than our best. We are learning so many new things at once. Maybe I am finally letting go of that teenage angst. If that means more patience for my students and being able to see the hard work despite the bumps along the way, then I am good with that. Thank you to all in our community for your support and encouragement.
High School Updates
by Jamie Schmiechen, High School teacher
Mark your calendars and tune in:
On April 25th, WFHB is going to broadcast radio theater pieces created by Harmony High School students.
Seniors have started in earnest on their Senior Projects. Despite the challenges of social distancing, Harmony seniors are pursuing some amazing projects: screenwriting, making pottery from scratch (including making the clay), and investigating pedagogic theory and practice in the U.S. and China are just some of the projects our seniors are working on.
Social distancing altered the way we celebrated the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. earlier this year; students gave input into the structure and details of how we “took a day on, not a day off.” The High School undertook a variety of activities and seminars focused on the history of activism in the US and current issues of racial justice. One student created a website to celebrate the history and culture of the Civil Rights movement. We collected donations, wrote letters to the President, discussed the importance of shopping locally at minority owned businesses, and contributed to the Black Live Matter Memorial Quilt.
This semester Harmony High School has the assistance of two student teacher candidates from IU. And we are interviewing students locally and internationally. To misquote William Faulkner, Harmony High School will not merely endure these unprecedented times, we will prevail!
JOEL WASHINGTON (1979)
Congratulations to local artist Joel Washington (one of Harmony's earliest students and graduates) who recently received the Living Legend Award from the City of Bloomington!
Joel says, "My greatest influence from Harmony School would be learning from the unity we had. I had so much encouragement from the teachers and fellow classmates, and learned the importance of giving back. Not only in school but life in general. Not only from the heart, but with my skills as an artist. I learn that so long as its positive, and puts you on the right path, do what you love and love what you do. Embrace your passions in hopes that it can inspire others."
Gala honors local Black living legend, leaders
By Emily Cox, The Herald-Times
Feb 28, 2021
NICK PALMER (2008)
Harmony graduate Nick Palmer was recently featured in the Herald Times. Nick studied fashion design as his Harmony Senior Project and went on to attend the New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City. He now lives in London. The article highlights the debut of his AW21 collection in February at the DiscoveryLAB as part of London Fashion Week.
“I started becoming interested in fashion while I was at Harmony. They allowed me to create an independent study where I taught myself how to sew in the basement of my parents’ house. My next-door neighbor, Nancy Hoff, an accomplished quilter and artist, acted as my tutor and adviser and later became a wonderful resource when I was launching my own line, N Palmer.”
Bloomington native cuts his way into fashion designing success
By Connie Shakalis, The Herald-Times
March 23, 2021
Harmony alumni working in education
Years at Harmony: 2002-2006 (3-6 grades)
Currently lives in: Nashville, TN
Current work: Project Play Therapy, LLC, Early Intervention
College/University attended: IU Bloomington (Bachelors in Early Childhood Education) Ball State University (MA Applied Behavior Analysis)
What did you get out of Family Meetings? A comfort in finding my voice, talking about what was important to me or on my mind, finding respect and value in other people's opinions.
Academic highlights: I absolutely loved my projects on Germany (where my family is from) and the Beatles (my dad's favorite!). Being able to learn about material that truly interested us got me started in being willing to research and dive more deeply into material in high school and beyond. I still remember playing "Come Together" by the Beatles as my classmates walked into my final project and beaming with pride!
Impact of Harmony on life and career: My Harmony friends (a group of five of us) and I have talked on Zoom every week since the beginning of the pandemic. They have been my people since meeting back in 2002! ...
I work with kids now, mainly pre-school aged. I was able to help out a lot in the ECP when I was attending Harmony which I think helped to foster my love and belief in the importance of early childhood education. I have worked as a classroom teacher as well as an early intervention therapist and have always come back to the importance of coming from a place of love, respect, and learning through the whole-child experience. I got to student teach with Claudio and LB in 2016 in the first and second grade classroom and it gave me deep insight into how a classroom culture can be a supportive and impactful place.
DARA BODE (Beth Backler)
Years at Harmony: 1986-1989 (9-12 grades)
Currently lives in: Aztec, New Mexico
Current work: Teacher, Mosaic Academy Charter School
College/University attended: Friends World College, Long Island University, University of Arizona
What did you get out of Family Meetings? This is probably where most of my learning occurred. I learned how to communicate with people, understand what people were trying to say, when they were struggling to articulate themselves.
Academic highlight: Learning Howard Zinn's history of the United States
Senior Project: Native American Education systems, mostly in New Mexico, which is where I ended up living.
Impact of Harmony on life and career: When I was in seventh grade, my mother went back to school to be a teacher. She would come home from her classes and discuss all the exciting ideas that she was learning about. These discussions led me to look at my own educational experiences, and start to find them lacking. I wanted to be more involved in my own education. When the opportunity to try something different presented itself, I jumped at the chance to attend an alternative high school, where for the first time, I took ownership of my education, and where I learned I had a voice and what I had to say mattered. That was the beginning of a fantastic journey into different options in education. My interpersonal communication skills are much stronger than they would have been otherwise. And my senior project experience definitely influenced my career as a teacher.
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