Creating Joyful Teaching Spaces
"To put the idea of 'place' at DC in its place, it’s important to start 'way back,' with faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.”
— Director of Innovation and English teacher Jim Favino
During the first year of the plan’s implementation, curriculum and scheduling specialists have helped DC reframe learning with the goal of creating a culture of educational innovation in which students can engage in deeper learning. CACE, the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education, defines deeper learning as “the people of God’s story engaged in real work that forms self and shapes the world.” Recent changes to the curriculum and to how DC’s teachers and students use both time and space are all part of bringing the DCCS 2020-2023 Strategic Plan to life on DC campuses.
“We want students to understand the world as God has made it, to appreciate its wonder and beauty, and to be inspired to participate in it—whether that’s through art, science, pursuing justice and mercy, or bringing the Word of God to people as missionaries,” Favino says.
Physical space is a key element that helps to create an environment conducive to preparing students for a life of impact through an innovative and exemplary education rooted in Christ. “Lots of people build buildings,” Favino says, “but what’s distinctive about these projects is the intention behind these multidimensional spaces designed to facilitate holistic teaching and learning.”
The coming school year will usher in a new era of learning at DC, a school with a deeply rooted sense of place.
The Hive—A Reimagined Space at the Heart of the Lower School
The Lower Campus is buzzing with excitement about the joyful learning opportunities that The Hive, “a honeycomb of exploration and innovation,” will offer. The current library space will metamorphose into The Hive in time for the start of the school year in the fall. “It will be a place to discover, explore, and delight in the awe and wonder of God’s creation,” says Joy Ludwig, Head of Lower School. The vision is for this bright and open new space to support the kind of integrated learning and educational innovation envisioned by the strategic plan.
At The Hive, young learners will be inspired and encouraged not only to ask questions but also to explore the answers to those questions, which—as anyone who knows young children will attest—will probably lead to more questions. Ultimately, though, their curiosity and the knowledge they soak in through the discovery process will lead them to beauty, wonder, and adoration for our creator God,” Ludwig says. Decentralizing the current library and placing books outside classrooms, arranged according to themes, will increase student access to good literature. Without the stacks, the reimagined space will feature flexible areas for working on group projects, walls for displaying or projecting their work, a stage for presentations and performances—and large windows inviting the splendor of God’s creation, including the ever-changing seasonal tableau of old growth trees, inside. “The space itself will help inspire both students and teachers to engage more long-term, and at a deeper level, with various topics of study,” says Early Childhood Center Director, Becky Zaro.
The Hive will provide a space where students can explore learning opportunities in STEM, art, reading, and other subjects and apply their knowledge to real-world situations. As they create, communicate, collaborate, and engage in critical thinking, lightbulb moments will begin to occur as students start to understand the interconnections between subjects.
Another exciting development on the Lower Campus this fall will be The Orchard, a new building to be constructed in place of the present auxiliary building to house the record-breaking four first-grade classes at DC this fall. “Kindergarteners will graduate from the Woodlands to The Orchard,” Steinfield says. As with The Hive, the names reflect a focus on outdoor education and a celebration of life on DC’s beautiful 33 acres. With wide hallways and lots of natural light, these classrooms will bring the outside in. “The vision is for a joyful, dedicated space for first graders to become part of a learning community,” says Steinfield.
Baseball and Soccer Fans Unite
Two projects that will upgrade the physical facilities at DC will also bring physical fitness benefits to the DC community. Following the installation of the popular new state-of-the-art turf field last summer, a second phase of field development will see a new baseball field on the Lower Campus. Ingeniously, the project includes a new soccer field in the outfield. Assistant Athletic Director Mike Pinelli says both middle school and varsity players are looking forward to breaking in the new fields. “It’s the most efficient use of the space and a creative solution,” he says.