This article was originally published in the summer 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Library Director Contributes Chapter to Book
Susan Smith, Harker’s library director, has contributed a chapter to a new book being published in the spring. The book, called “Growing Schools – Librarians as Professional Developers,” presents examples of school librarians leading professional learning in numerous contexts and for diverse learning goals with remarkable success.
“This is the story of Harker’s information literacy program which originated under [former library director] Enid Davis in 2006,” says Smith. “The chapter is a chronicle of how we built administrative and faculty support for teaching a scope and sequence of skills essential for 21st-century learning.” Originally a single team of teachers, librarians and administrators, the Information Literacy Committee has since grown to three campusbased committees, and the program has been integrated into upper school departmental initiatives.
The program allows Harker’s library director and site-based librarians to gain administrative support as they create a whole-school initiative that positions information literacy as essential learning for students of all ages. A faculty team then designs and implements a process to incorporate these information literacy skills into disciplinary content classroom by classroom.
“The librarians’ understanding of curricula, instructional design expertise and information systems knowledge uniquely positions them as faculty professional developers,” says Smith. “Harker’s K-12 approach is exceptional and our success remarkable.”
Harker Teacher Appointed to Gavilan College Board of Trustees
The Gavilan College School Board has appointed Harker teacher Jonathan Brusco to its board of trustees. After the tragic death of one of its members left an open seat, the board solicited applications from the community. When Brusco heard of the opening, he realized his areas of expertise were perfectly suited for the position.
Brusco, who teaches grade 7 social studies, is credentialed to teach both elementary and high school students. Before Harker, Brusco taught in the philosophy department at San Jose State University. “I have an understanding of what students are capable of at a younger age and also a general idea of how prepared students are when they start at a four-year university,” said Brusco. “I think my educational background really played a part in the board selecting me, but I think they also appreciate the fact that I came from Harker.”
Brusco believes bringing the perspective of a private educational institution, unencumbered by the same regulations, laws and budgets of the state, may have been attractive to the board. “In addition, Harker is a multicampus school, as is Gavilan College, and both schools are expanding to new campuses in the future,” says Brusco.
Teaching at both San Jose State and Harker showed Brusco the acute disparity in college preparedness among students. “Working at Harker has really opened my eyes to the true potential of younger students,” said Brusco. “I know that all our students enter four-year universities well-prepared for what lies ahead, but having taught at San Jose State, I can’t say that this is the case for every new college student.” As a board member, Brusco says he wants to focus on making sure community college students have access to coursework that will best prepare and equip them for moving on to a four-year university. Brusco’s term lasts until November of this year, whereupon he will run for reelection.
Teacher Appreciation Events Afford Students and Parents Welcome Opportunities to Express Gratitude
All year, Harker teachers go above and beyond their duty to help create a community not only of learners, but kind, well-rounded individuals as well.
Their hard work was recognized and rewarded this spring, honored by both students and parents during a series of schoolwide annual teacher appreciation events held in May.
Each campus hosted its own appreciation events, with the teachers treated to delicious meals expertly prepared and served by both parents and students. The lower and middle school breakfasts and luncheons were organized by grade level coordinators, while the upper school event, a breakfast, was entirely arranged by the students themselves.
At the upper school, outgoing student council officers whipped up and served a hot, hearty breakfast for the Saratoga campus teachers, who enjoyed their meal in the Edge before school officially started for the day.
“As the year winds to a close, all of the students are reminded of how much we owe you for teaching us, mentoring us and inspiring us to learn and push ourselves,” Revanth Kosaraju, grade 12 and outgoing associated student body president, said, noting that the breakfast was just a token of student appreciation.
Meanwhile, middle school teachers began their day with an equally delicious breakfast served in the multipurpose room, followed by a moving presentation to thank them for their dedication. In the afternoon, middle school parents continued the festivities by hosting an elegant luncheon for teachers.
Lower school teachers had their special breakfast served by parents in the faculty lounge. Later, they joined parents for an outdoor lunch held on the school’s front field. Parents thanked teachers for “another year of unconditional dedication to students.” Attendees enjoyed the glorious weather, wide variety of entrees and desserts, and easy conversation.
According to Teré Aceves, one of Harker’s directors of volunteer programming, “The appreciation breakfasts and lunches are a welcome opportunity for parents to express their gratitude for the yearlong efforts of teachers who provide a stimulating and nurturing environment for their children.”
Lower School Welcomes New Dean
Kendricks (Ken) Allen will be the dean of Harker’s lower school beginning next year. Allen joins Harker after 12 years teaching and coaching at the Fort Worth Country Day School (FWCDS). Allen earned a B.S. in exercise and sport science from Colorado State University and holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas Christian University.
At FWCDS, Allen actively pursued a passion for developing lifetime fitness skills in young children. In addition to teaching K-5 physical education, Allen spent seven years as the head track and field coach for the 60- to 80-member upper school team and oversaw the development of the middle school program for both boys and girls. He also spent 12 years as an assistant varsity football coach at the upper school and was head coach for middle school football. He has been an assistant coach in girls basketball, a middle school academic advisor and has served on the school’s Diversity Committee and Tech Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Texas High School Coaches Association, the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, and certified as a United States Track and Field Association Level I coach.
Allen arrives on campus July 30, following his wedding to his fiancée, Jenna. “The Harker School is regarded as the finest independent school in the Bay Area; I’m humbled and honored to be part of the faculty and staff,” said Allen. “I’m looking forward to working on the Bucknall campus and building on the successful foundation that they have established. My fiancée and I look forward to being a part of the Harker community.”