Smiles abounded on early childhood and middle school faces as they entered the new wing for their first official day of learning in the new space.
Excitement heightened shortly before winter break as faculty packed up classrooms and middle school students moved tables down the lower school hallway, up the elevator, and into new classrooms. A repeated sight for faculty and staff was watching middle school students walk through the halls with large Ikea totes as they carried their locker belongings to the new space.
During the break, professional movers, staff, faculty, and our facilities crew worked to move and set up classrooms, ensuring students had a successful first day back.
While a change in routine can be difficult for students, Wellington students greeted their first school day in the new wing with excitement and curiosity.
Inquisitive faces peered into transformed classrooms. Since boxes and the majority of furniture were moved during winter break, students entered spaces that looked completely new.
Just one week after fully inhabiting the new space, middle school students supplied rave reviews. Elizabeth Fenimore ’29 immediately noticed the garage doors that connect classrooms to one another and the commons. “I love how you can open all the garage doors and it looks like one big classroom,” said Fenimore.
The garage doors in the new wing are just one example of how the new space was designed to fit Wellington’s educational philosophy. As a school, Wellington values collaboration – often the best ideas are created or refined with friends, colleagues, or mentors. The garage doors help faculty create opportunities for moments of interdisciplinary collaboration between classes.
Faculty members, too, are excited about the new space. Michael Graham, middle school social studies, appreciates how the new wing encourages community. “The openness of our new space fosters a sense of community and camaraderie,” said Graham. “The design allows for easy movement and collaboration without noise or distraction.”
The new wing’s thoughtful design – from square footage to classroom configuration – augments teaching and learning. With a month of teaching in the new space under their belts, faculty report that the new space has enhanced their instruction.
Larger classrooms provide more room for ease of movement, easy access to teaching materials, and collaboration.
“With so much more room, I feel like I can move around the class more to best engage with each student,” said Jessica Austin, middle school STEM teacher. The ability to interact with students individually allows faculty to personalize instruction to support and challenge students appropriately.
Laurie Parson’s lower school music students are also benefitting from a larger space. “There is plenty of room to not only display, but also to make instruments and materials easily accessible to children. We have more room for our creative movement activities that require props like ribbons, scarves, and even a parachute!” said Parsons. Having more square footage facilitates opportunities for folk dances, expanding a traditional music class to include dance and the intersection of sound, rhythm, and movement.
A larger space also means more storage areas. While we know the benefit of closet spaces in our homes – we all need somewhere to store extra clothes and decorations – they are also hugely beneficial to faculty. For Parsons, this means students can see and use drums that were forced to be in storage in her old space. For Nami Stager P ’30 ’32, lower school science specialist, this means easily finding specimens and not having to dig through rows of storage containers. Thus, class time and planning periods can be used more efficiently.
With garage doors between classrooms and classrooms situated in close proximity, team collaboration has become easier. “I love that all the classrooms are closer together. It has made collaboration much easier,” said Austin. The layout also has an unexpected and fun benefit. “I get to see past students more often!”
Just one month in and the new wing is already fulfilling its purpose – to be a space that better facilitates Wellington’s collaborative, skills-based style of instruction.
The new wing is a testament to the community's commitment to education and their belief in the power of investing in the future. As the school community enjoys its first month in the space, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation about all the possibilities it will bring.