“The Commons”
at The Harley School

This will be the first K-12 education space in the country that is a leader in multiple dimensions of education for a sustainable future: Healthy Commons, The Dynamics of Systems & Change, Responsible Local & Global Citizenship, Natural Laws and Ecological Principles, Inventing and Affecting the Future and Multiple Perspectives – ref. The Cloud Institute

The Commons will be a “living building” dedicated to education for a sustainable future—an authentic and evolving environment that puts students in the position to lead and link personal responsibility to the resource challenges of our times. The operation of all the systems of The Commons—energy, water and atmosphere—will be part of a social curriculum where students strive to achieve a net-zero balance in these resources. This will be a place of student debate and problem solving, where year-by-year new ideas are implemented and tested as the authentic challenges of sustainable living unfold for the student body. The Harley School will serve our nation’s community of schools as a leading example of a 21st century education.

Second Floor

The Briggs Center for Civic Engagement will focus on programs that put students, faculty and the institution in positions of civic leadership. Harley is nationally recognized as a leader in public-private partnerships that close the achievement gap for urban students from impoverished families. This year, the University of Rochester, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College and The Norman Howard School launched summer programs based on Harley’s model and we have formed a regional consortium, the Greater Rochester Summer Learning Association. Harley is partnering with the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester to develop an implementation plan for such regional consortia.

The Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education places Harley as a national leader in the pedagogy of emotional literacies. Two years ago we were invited to submit a proposal for what is arguably the most prestigious grant program in the country for independent schools—the Edward E. Ford Foundation’s Educational Leadership. Harley has developed a unique methodology for teaching emotional intelligences through the Harley Hospice Program and we are committed to sharing this with others in the educational community. Harley won the grant, a matching grant of $250,000, to formalize, validate and provide teacher education and professional development for the pedagogy of teaching empathy, as well as to establish the Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education (CMEE.) The University of Rochester’s Motivations Research Group will conduct program research and each summer the CMEE will conduct an institute that brings together leading theorists and practitioners to further the teaching of emotional literacies.

First Floor

We live in what is becoming a “Googly” world. What does this mean for science education? It means that large collaborative projects are the future. The Science Center on the first floor of The Commons will support programs such as the Environmental Leadership Collaborative, which will join science, civic responsibility and remotely connected project groups to tackle authentic science problems of our day. For example, a current initiative is to organize the Western NY- based collection of mosquitoes with subsequent testing for West Nile Virus and other contagions. Internet-based mapping, result tracking and more will be released as part of this student-led collaboration.

Ground Floor

The ground level of The Commons will be a Projects Space dedicated to hands-on learning. The time, space, and support necessary to provide opportunities to learn design thinking, explore how things work or bring one’s ideas into reality have become scarce commodities in education. As we look at our rapidly changing world, it is these skills and experiences that student will need to be creative problem solvers. “Educating students for their future and not our past” is the mantra of the Projects Space.