As the 2015-16 school year kicked off, the emphasis was definitely on new beginnings as the stunning renovations to the Upper School made their debut.
Beautiful new learning spaces — including classrooms, faculty seminar rooms and a lounge for senior student leaders — are outfitted to provide the latest technology and filled with light through the use of floor-to-ceiling glass. And they’re designed to maximize interactivity and mobility with their flexible furniture and configurations.
Conventional? Maybe not. But that’s just the point.
“Something as concrete as a learning space is a wonderful way to exemplify what innovative learning looks like in a school community,” says Mary Gauthier, Executive Director of the Wernham West Centre for Learning. “Our sphere of reference and experience doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. We need to look at the whole school as one big learning space.”
When planning the look and feel of the spaces, a valuable and insightful source was consulted: the students. An ethnographic study gathered the boys’ impressions on how they believe they learn best. Findings were that they want flexible spaces with lots of light, and easy access to IT and teacher support.
Feedback like this has been supported by studies like one done at Duke University, where researchers determined that learners respond well to open classrooms that demonstrate the social nature of learning, but also accommodate private study.
Adaptability is the name of the game, where students can move freely between independent thought and interactive connection. The Upper School transformation more than delivers on this front.
Donations to the landmark Think Ahead Campaign made these spaces possible. Say donors Chris and Caroline Newall, who generously supported the construction of the lounge for senior student leaders in honour of their son Andrew, Class of 2022, “Learning environments are so important and these renovated rooms will challenge the boys to learn, think and create in different ways.”
Naming opportunities are still available for some of the new spaces, including Seminar Room 138A, and a common room and boardroom. Please contact Sarah Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.