Academy Award Winner Marcia Gay Harden


Q |  You come from a military family and attended school overseas. How is your kids’ school experience different from your own?

A | My schools were quite diverse—those who serve their country come from every race and religion—and so the military schools I attended were a wonderful melting pot. Fortunately, my kids go to a great public charter school that is also very diverse. I think parent involvement is much greater these days. The teaching and learning style is different, too: from the obvious smart boards and computers and learning websites to the emphasis on kinesthetic and experiential learning.

Q | Any great teachers in your life?

A | I had a science teacher in middle school who inspired me ... simply because she acknowledged me and made me feel that what I had to offer was worthy. My second grader has a teacher, Ms. Morris, who is sort of like Ms. Frizzle from Magic School Bus. She just did a wonderful project where the kids performed a moving museum of great African-Americans. It was presented asa play for the whole school. She followed up with a geology project in which the kids occupied stations and spoke as “scientists.” I love this type of hands-on learning.

Q | How do you motivate your kids to read during the summer?

A |  Reading is a joy for my kids, and to swing in a hammock on a lazy summer day reading a good book just goes with summer. I love the reading lists from the schools, and we visit the libraries or browse Barnes and Noble and pick out a few. Reading together helps, and setting a reading time is good, too—we have “family reading time,” which accomplishes both of those goals.