When you think you’re done, you’ve just begun!
Although the quote above from beloved literacy expert Lucy Calkins was originally intended to motivate writers to always remain open to revising and improving their written work, one might also apply it to the work we undertake here at The Willows. Given that our theme this year is “Story,” perhaps this quote has even more relevance. Our community is constantly writing and revising our story, through the changes we make to our campus and our educational program each year based on our needs and our desire for continual improvement and innovation.
This school year there are several such enhancements worth highlighting. First, inspired by the partnership we’ve forged over the last few years with Culver City’s reDiscover Center, a significant renovation was undertaken this summer in our Middle School designLab, overseen by Middle School Dean of Students Doug Klier. Last school year, Doug invited members of the reDiscover Center’s faculty to provide professional development to our faculty on safe use of woodworking tools, and also rented a variety of tools and related equipment from the center to be used in specific projects last spring (click here for more on information on this). Once these tools were in the hands of teachers and students, and we saw the inspiring woodworking projects being undertaken, Doug realized the need to not only permanently add such tools to the designLab but also to provide a workable space for all of us to access and store them. As you can see, his vision has been more than realized, with a permanent woodworking center now in place, complete with mounted power tools and safety equipment (to be used with teacher supervision).
A major wish list item from our music department was added to the Electronic Music Room: a sound booth. Each week, Greg Blum, one of our music teachers, helps students create sophisticated beats and compositions using software like GarageBand and Logic in his electronic music classes. However, when students recorded live audio, it was always challenging to do so without capturing the sounds of other students talking as well as other ambient noises within the building. Those days are over, thanks to the purchase and installation of the new sound booth!
In addition to changes to the physical spaces within our campus, we are always reflecting on whether we are utilizing the best approaches to learning throughout our educational program. Last year, various Lower School teachers met regularly as part of a new Language Arts Committee to examine aspects of our reading and writing program. One suggestion that emerged from these meetings was a desire to pilot the program Handwriting Without Tears with our youngest writers in Kindergarten and 1st Grade, which prompted us to purchase an introductory set of materials towards this end. Initial feedback from teachers using the program has been positive, and we are potentially providing additional professional development on the program in advance of next school year.
Many of these revisions were made possible thanks to generous donations to the school during last year’s annual Jog-a-Thon event. Other notable purchases made include:
- an Occulus Rift, along with other materials needed for virtual reality explorations
- potter’s wheels for our art department
- additional Imagination Playground Blocks for students to use on our yard
Stay tuned for many other enhancements to come as the school year progresses!