Harlem Academy was pleased to welcome 21 educators from across the country as part of the 2014 Schools That Can National Forum school tours. The morning started with breakfast while fourth grade students greeted guests. One visitor wrote, “The greeting time with the fourth graders was an excellent way to introduce us to HA. Really excellent tour – what a terrific school!”

After breakfast, guests gathered in the common room for a discussion of teacher-driven curriculum development. Head of School Vinny Dotoli served as the moderator as Science Teacher Allison Duarte, History Teacher Sean Robertson, and Middle School Director Chris Cunningham answered questions. The group talked about how they decide to undertake curriculum development, what motivates the teachers, how the curriculum is assessed and revised, and ways they hope to continue to improve that which they have already developed. (Slides from Vinny’s PowerPoint)

Guests also had the opportunity to visit three classrooms. In the fourth grade, visitors saw a literary discussion of the book “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan, touching on themes of class, family, and love. In the middle school, guests were able to see the teacher-developed curriculum from the panel discussion in action.

Seventh grade biology students were studying emergency medicine. This is the culminating unit in a yearlong human biology curriculum developed by Mrs. Duarte. In her review, one visitor wrote, “I am so excited to use some of what I saw as I develop science curriculum for our schools.”

The eighth grade history class was discussing the events of 9/11 in preparation for a visit to the newly-opened museum. The study of the events leading up to 9/11 and its aftermath is the sixth, and final, turning point in a two-year U.S. history curriculum developed by Mr. Robertson.

One visitor wrote, “The enthusiasm and engagement of students was superb. Great to see the curriculum in action – very innovative.” We are thrilled that the teachers and administrators who visited felt there were concrete things they could take away from the visit as they return to their own schools.

We are grateful to Schools That Can for hosting the National Forum, offering us the opportunities to both share and learn.