Upgrades, repairs and renovations to the school facilities are generally covered by the District budget and reserves. However, there are times when administrators or teachers want to pilot a new way to design and use space or specialized classroom furniture or equipment where Foundation grants make it possible. It’s important to note that Foundation grants for special facilities, technology or equipment are often paired with training and professional development for staff so that those assets are used to their fullest potential.
When the school pivoted to a virtual learning plan in response to the pandemic, many of the resources provided by past Foundation grants were instrumental in enabling the faculty to continue to foster effective learning for our students and keep things as normal as possible under the challenging circumstances. The Foundation's critical support of nearly every technology initiative in recent years enabled the school to transition quickly to virtual learning. In the fall of 2020, the Foundation approved several grants to support the school's re-opening and operating plans including the application of Purezone to high-touch areas at the school and the build-out of Zoom classrooms with large screen monitors, webcams and microphones. These grants helped the school open safely and prepare for and sustain live, hybrid, and virtual learning models.
Elementary School - MakerSpace
As part of its K-5 STEAM curriculum, the Elementary School wanted to create a place where students could design, build and experiment with their creations. A Foundation grant helped transform part of the Elementary School Library into a makerspace to do just that. A variety of building materials are available from high-tech electronics to low-tech cardboard and glue, enabling students to develop age appropriate problem solving and engineering skills.
Middle School - Computer and Robotics Lab
In 2015, Middle School Principal Tom Wilson worked with the District Technology team on a grant to renovate the Middle School computer lab into a computer and robotics lab with Mac computers, robotics equipment, flexible furniture to allow students and teachers to collaborate and work together in a variety of styles and technology that allowed students to share their work with classmates but also remotely with students and teachers around the world. Through another Foundation grant in 2020, VEX V5 Robotics Kits have enabled Middle School students to experience programming and mechanical engineering on an authentic level. Vex Robotics offers the ability to construct, program, and pilot a student-made robot that can perform simple and complex tasks.
High School - Innovation Classrooms
In 2014, High School Principal Ann Meyer requested funds for a program called Innovation Fellows. Select faculty members were chosen in a competitive process to spend time over the school year studying cutting edge teaching techniques and bringing them into their own classrooms and to the school as a whole. Over that year, the research being done by the Fellows kept leading back to the importance of flexible, tech-enhanced classrooms that would allow a variety of teaching and learning modalities to prepare students for college and 21st century careers. In 2015, the Fellows requested another grant to work with Fielding Nair Inc, a world-renowned educational architecture firm to design and renovate three pilot Innovation Classrooms. Trainers from Fielding Nair provided professional development to help teachers use the rooms to their full capabilities.
Fielding Nair also helped HS Art teacher Courtney Alan redesign the Art Room in 2016-17. A new layout, new furniture and new storage provided better lighting, more space, more flexible drawing surfaces and easier access to materials for art students and teachers.
IDE Classroom Redesign & Flexible Seating
The School is partnering with IDE Corp. (Innovative Designs for Education) to redesign classrooms and strengthen instructional practice to support students' ability to take ownership of their work. Thanks to the support of the Foundation, numerous classrooms have been outfitted with new furniture and technology based on the IDE philosophy. The Foundation also has funded other flexible seating grants that allow students to easily collaborate, participate in dynamic group discussions, and engage in innovative work.
Auditorium: The Foundation has been a long-time supporter of upgrades to the Auditorium. Starting in the 1990's, Foundation grants helped install special lighting, upgrade the sound system, and provide curtains and scrims. Then, in 2015, the Foundation was part of a community-wide effort that included a bond referendum, PTA gifts, and private fundraising to accomplish a state-of-the-art renovation of the Auditorium. The project redesigned the floor elevation, seating layout and created a fully accessible stage and seating area with a wraparound balcony. The restoration of the proscenium, the open fabric-paneled ceiling and the addition of a retractable acoustic curtain in the attic resulted in an acoustically flexible space that is suitable for music and spoken performance events. Another key feature was the addition of a lobby and gathering space with a separate public entrance. Since the renovation, the Foundation has funded additional lighting upgrades and the replacement of acoustical shells.
Cardio and Weight Room: In 2016, the Foundation approved a grant to renovate the old weight and wrestling rooms into new cardio and weight rooms with safe, state-of-the-art equipment that would accommodate the District’s ever-growing athletic program and Phys. Ed. classes from Middle through High School. Foundation grants added a Vertimax trainer in 2020 and Keiser Fitness trainers in 2021.