All of our academic work—the regular labs, readings, discussions, debates, essays, role plays and presentations—are designed to stimulate essential habits of mind: curiosity, evidence, perspective, connection and voice (see more about this in “Philosophy”). Students are expected to formally present their work to demonstrate mastery of these skills in exhibitions at the end of 10th grade, and at the end of senior year. We have established our own benchmark system to continually track growth and ensure every student is truly prepared for college. Within this system, we allow students some choice in their course topics and, as they progress to junior and senior year, to choose an area to specialize in for advanced coursework.
Every student is expected to read a book of their choice for at least an hour a day—half an hour is built into the school schedule, and half an hour or more after school. Developing a strong and independent love of reading is an unmatched priority. Our expert teachers carefully monitor each child’s reading to make sure each student is continually advancing and finding the right level of challenge.
In addition, students take robust and creative English classes such as “Growing Up,” “Beginnings” and “Literacy and Justice.” Students read, discuss and write about great works of literature by Shakespeare, Homer, Sophocles, Frederick Douglass, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Ramayana and The Bible as well as more contemporary works by Maya Angelou, Sherman Alexie, Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya, Junot Diaz, Seamus Heaney and Walter Dean Meyers.
Instead of the usual string of events found in a textbook, history at Harvest Collegiate pushes students to critically evaluate historical sources at pivotal moments in history. History is also an imaginative springboard for students to fully imagine the past and consider alternatives for the future. In courses such as “Heroes and Villains” students read key primary sources and the works of contemporary historians, role-play, research and debate the merits of Hernan Cortes, Martin Luther, Galileo Galilei, Catherine the Great and Elizabeth I–in their time and ours–while in “Design Your Own Civilization” students look to the ancient world to understand why some societies fail, and some succeed. All students take our core course of “Looking for an Argument” which builds reasoning muscle in a weekly cycle of listening to two adults debate, reading a variety of different short viewpoints, debating as a class and culminating in a Friday in-class essay on questions like “Should parents ban their kids from Facebook? Should the NYPD continue its stop-and-frisk policy?”
We think of mathematics as “the music of reason. To do mathematics is to engage in an act of discovery and conjecture; intuition and inspiration; to be awed and overwhelmed by an almost painful beauty” in the words of mathematician Paul Lockhart. Therefore our program focuses on building student’s mathematical reasoning through compelling problems–students may propose and compare various solutions to find the most elegant. Depending on their math background, students will follow a course sequence of either Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II/Trigonometry and AP Statistics OR Geometry, Algebra II/Trigonometry, Precalculus and AP Calculus.
Every student learns a musical instrument at Harvest Collegiate. In partnership with the renowned Third Street Music Settlement, we have teachers who specialize in a discipline of the student’s choice: Chorus, Piano and Percussion (we will next year add Guitar and build up to Orchestra, Jazz and Rock Band). In line with our school philosophy of students as creative producers, making music is a regular and joyous part of school life.
Our science program concentrates on how to actually do science, learning the core ideas of the scientific method through experimental design, critique and analysis. Students start this approach on the first day of school by plunging into a Physics lab, and proceed to design experiments about motion with impact cars and catapults. Physics continues in the spring with a course on Electricity, building and testing circuits and reconstructing machines. From this foundation of physical science, students move on the Biochemistry in 10th Grade and proceed to a full understanding of life processes in Biology in 11th grade. Senior year students may choose AP Biology, AP Physics or AP Chemistry depending on demand, or take an elective such as Environmental Science.
Spanish and Foreign Language
Our language program offers linguistic and cultural immersion in Latin American and Latino studies with the goal of improving reading, writing, speaking and listening fluency. We currently offer Spanish and plan to expand our language options as the school grows.
“Spiral Growth,” and Experiential Learning Half-Day
Half a day each week takes students outside the building: to explore the city in 9th grade Urban Ecology class, to do community service in 10th, to understand the college landscape, prepare for the SAT and visit colleges in 11th and a capstone Career Internship in 12th.
We think of physical education as a vital part of a student’s well being. This year we have an energizing program of Zumba!, Hip Hop and Kickboxing two days a week in our new dance studio, while one other day a week all students learn Yoga. As they advance, students will have greater options for exercise including a weight/fitness room, Sailing and participation on shared campus sports teams including soccer, volleyball, basketball, handball and baseball or softball.
Harvest Collegiate is a school based in honest intellectual relationships. Advisory is the “home” of every student over years; the Advisor is responsible for overseeing and proactively addressing the child’s overall well being, particularly their academic progress, of which attendance is a crucial component. This includes communicating with the advisee’s family personally at least once a month, communicating with the advisee’s teachers, sharing positive updates and connecting the student to further resources when necessary. Since Advisory is also a space for the cultivation of agency, rotating roles for students—leading Morning Meeting, reporting on current events, decorating the space, leading a teambuilding activity, or leading discussing on an interesting article—is also an integral part of Advisory functioning.