Every great school is replete with great teachers; teachers are the face of the school and they put the Mission and Vision into action in the classroom. Everyone understands the importance and effect of teachers on producing a successful learning environment. But how we resource our teachers, the quality of the educational materials, the depth of our professional development program, and the design of the teaching spaces also have a profound impact on the quality of the academic and social instruction.
Last summer we made statements with regards to the importance of space in improving the ethos of our school; the all-weather pitch, an upgraded Physics laboratory, a redesigned cafeteria, improved admissions offices, and a restructured entry lobby that will improve entry security are all part of a series of facility developments that will enhance our students’ learning experience. The next phase will incorporate the building of an Early Childhood Centre (ECC), for two to five year olds, and the expansion of our car-parking facilities and drop-off areas.
Last year, we worked with our architect to finalize the design of the ECC, we submitted planning applications to the City council, and approached six building companies for tenders. We are now in the process of analyzing these quotes, being optimistic that we can keep to our deadline of an August 1, 2016 completion; the winter months will need to be kind to us!
The design will be specifically directed towards this age group in order to provide fixed and flexible spaces; spaces that encourage student creativity, autonomy and self-expression; offer indoor and outdoor play spaces; and include appropriate spaces for parents and teachers; but above all be a safe, secure and healthy learning environment (see Child Development Centers [Whole Building Design Guide])
With the completion of the ECC we will be able to remove the portables from the front of the school and convert the existing Early Childhood and Kindergarten classrooms into upper Elementary and Middle School specialist areas. These areas will include design and technology workshops, science laboratories, and a multi-use space. I firmly believe that many of our students’ professional futures will be in these fields, as innovative engineering, science, and technology applications radically change our lives. The ability to create is part of the human condition; we need to nurture and stimulate this capacity in our students, a part of education that has been neglected recently in favor of more theoretical, less practical domains. By adapting our campus to fit the needs of our learners, we are opening a gateway into discovering their passions through dedicated learning spaces.