Was it Worth It?

Over the past two weeks, we have had many alumni who are on their mid-fall breaks from school stop by to see our new high school. Either they were in the modular units with us last year or they have heard about and now see the grand new entrance to the school. One such alum, who I had in class for two years and graduated in 2004 asked me during his visit, “Was the cost of the renovation worth it?”

I had to ponder the answer, but only for a moment to gather the arguments in my head. My answer was, “Yes, of course and here are the reasons why.”

  • When spending that amount of money on a renovation, you want to end up with a space that is designed for tomorrow, not for what we are just doing today. And since we cannot accurately predict the future beyond the next academic year, the space has to adaptable so that it can easily be reconfigured to take advantage of the changes in order to get a positive return of the capital expenditure. (BTW-did I mention that this particular student is working on his MBA at Duke)
  • The new space now gives us the capability of beginning to rethink pedagogy. While one would like to think that we would automatically switch, change is a process and we cannot expect across the board changes. The new space amplifies some of the changes towards a student centered, collaborative environment that we had begun to implement in the old spaces which were restrictive to these changes. We now have the environment to really begin to experiment and further define what best are best practices in a collaborative, 21st Century style.
  • The new space has encouraged us to begin to rethink what we do, where we do it, and when. Along with further implementation of our Google Apps for Ed and our current Moodle implementation, plus our Haiku pilot, we are not only defining what happens within school, but what we can develop and in our extended spaces. The buzz, excitement, energy, and re-invigoration puts everyone in a different mindset, more open to the change.
So yes, after being open for the past nine weeks, the initial return is that the investment in the new space “has been worth it.” Where it will lead us, the sky is the limit. We have the spaces which support student centered, collaborative learning. We have the flexibility to reconfigure the spaces to adapt to further programmatic and pedagogical changes. We are investigating our virtual spaces to make sure that they are consistent with the capabilities of the physical space we inhabit. I look forward to see what emerges.

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