Monday, November 16, 2009

Haley school preview - Nov. 10

I confess. I’ve had a tiny crush on the Haley school since reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorders, a book about how kids today are underexposed to the natural world. The author kind of beats the thesis to death (to the point where you might want to chuck the book and just go live deliberately in the woods), but it’s still worth a read. For a synopsis, check out this Boston Globe article from 2007 about the Haley and the back-to-nature movement.

The Haley has a thematic curriculum (three themes/year) with a strong focus on the environment and community. They partner with the Boston Nature Center, which is right across the street on Walk Hill Avenue. Their activities there are tied into the theme. This fall, for instance, kindergartners study the five senses, and they go on a sensory walk of the Nature Center. In third grade, one of the themes is Wampanoag and Pilgrim life. Students collect seeds at the Nature Center to learn what early Americans might have used. They also travel to Plimoth Plantation.

Fifth grades build their own boats. Real boats. Not bathtub boats. Their winter unit includes African American maritime history. They also study the ecology of the Charles River.

Students go on a lot of field trips called “spark experiences,” meaning they go places with questions and projects in mind. For instance, the second grade goes on a mapping trip to the Arnold Arboretum.

The Haley is a pilot school. They are K1 to grade 5. They only have one K1 classroom, and expand to two classes per grade in K2. The Haley is a full inclusion school, so children with special needs are fully integrated into the classrooms.

They have onsite before-school and after-school programs for all grades, including for K1. City Year helps with the after-school program. After-school enrichment includes chorus and yoga.

The Haley is designated a Peace Zone school. Younger children walk the halls with their arms crossed over their chest to avoid jostling each other. Overall, it’s about respecting each others differences.

Specialties are art, music, computers, and gym. I don’t recall seeing a gymnasium, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means I’m foggy in the evenings. All children have exposure to instrumental music, but formal band and chorus doesn’t begin until fourth grade. They recently received a VH1 grant for musical instruments.

 Other features:
  • They have an outdoor classroom with a garden.
  • Mandatory uniforms, but the “uniform” seems pretty flexible.
  • They’re trying to get funding for a green roof.
The tour I went on was in the evening. It’s a bit harder to get a feel for the school without the regular activity of students and teachers.

I think my son would like this school, especially the nature-related themes. In addition, kindergarteners at the Haley work on robotic LEGOS. That would blow his mind.


Anonymous said...

Hi There. Thanks for your review of all of your school visits. As a Haley parent, I thought I would add a bit more info: the Haley does have computer as a specialty. They are also in the process of redesigning the library which will be in a separate room--currently books are in the hallway. The books you saw in the music room are all music-related books.

After school also includes, art, music, hip hop dancing, drama and homework assistance along with yoga and band.

The school has also adopted a co-teaching model for every class and has a number of partnerships with area universities.

Geeky Mama said...

Thanks, Haley parent! Like I said, I was feeling a bit foggy that night. Toward the end, my notes were increasingly illegible. I'll adjust info in the entry.