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15th May

New HVA Garden

As our fifth graders were learning about plants in science class, they started a garden. The garden was launched with an amazing garden party (see the video!) in which the whole community came together: about 100 people participated including HVA students, families, teachers, custodial staff and community members all offering to lend a hand. Even local shops donated food and ice. 

The crops in the garden include a mix of student-grown flowers and vegetables as well as plants from the Urban Garden Center, which is a greenhouse located on 116 Street which had been destroyed by the recent explosion.    

Future goals for the space include a school-wide composting program; bench building; outdoor artwork; a nutrition program utilizing garden produce; an outdoor classroom space where students can learn in an environmental space; a small shed to store supplies; gravel to fill in pathways; and a science plants curricular program in our elementary school.

Thank you to the teachers, staff, leaders, families and students. What a beautiful experience for our community.

Watch Video

8th May

Students Organize to #BringBackOurGirls

Three weeks ago, 230 school girls in Nigeria were kidnapped from school by terrorists. Our middle school students organized a campaign to raise awareness, created a #BringBackOurGirls poster for all HVA students to sign, passed out fliers during lunch, and talked with their classmates about the issue. I am proud of our students — and so proud of our teachers and staff for inspiring and guiding them. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the kidnapped girls.

26th April

A Tribute to Our Teachers

For those who missed it, here is an excerpt from my speech at our annual benefit celebration, earlier this week.

On this special evening, I’d like to pay tribute to our teachers. Our teachers are incredibly smart, talented people who could have done anything, and they often have to defend their decision to well-meaning parents who ask, “Why don’t you become a lawyer?”  Well, we’re all glad you didn’t become lawyers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…!)

You know, even though all of us have had teachers, most of us really don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher. Imagine designing lesson plans that keep 25 students interested and engaged for five hours. And not just any lessons but truly exquisite instruction that gets students thinking at a high level. Then on top of that, assigning and grading homework; reviewing student work and giving meaningful feedback; participating in faculty meetings; selecting books to inspire every student to fall in love with reading; tutoring the students who need extra help; spending time with students who are misbehaving; monitoring the hallway and lunch; covering a class for a colleague who is absent; practicing for lock-down drills; mediating student disagreements; instilling a love of learning while also figuring how to prepare for the state test; investing time each week in your own professional development to continually improve the quality of your work; staying in communication with parents not only to report problems but also to share the good news . .  And that’s just Monday!

Clearly, our teachers deserve our deep appreciation.


24th April

“Many of the education reform recommendations either ignore the role of teachers or ignore the intelligence, judgment and experience that teachers might offer. There is a need to defend schools as institutions essential to maintaining and developing a critical democracy and also to defend teachers as transformative intellectuals who combine scholarly reflection and practice in the service of educating students.”
 Teachers as Intellectuals, Henry Giroux

4th April

After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy broke the news to a large group that had gathered in Indianapolis in a now famous extemporaneous speech. At the 2:30 mark in the video, Kennedy recites from memory one of the greatest poems I’ve ever read:

Even in our sleep

Pain which cannot forget

Falls drop by drop upon the heart

Until in our own despair

Against our will

Comes wisdom

Through the awful grace of God

- Aeschylus

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23rd March

Inquiry-Based Learning in First Grade

As a first grade class was listening to the teacher read a book about dolphins, one student asked, “Is it o.k. to keep dolphins in tanks?” From this question, our amazing teachers in room 314 developed an inquiry-based learning unit. The children read more books about dolphins, gathered information on charts, presented their positions, and wrote multiple drafts. The culmination of the two-week inquiry was a written piece now proudly displayed outside their classroom. The kids loved it, and some even began questioning the ethics of keeping a class guinea pig as a pet. Clearly this learning experience sparked their innate intellectual curiosity and fostered critical thinking.