WHEELING - As Wheeling Country Day School students shake the beach sand from their shoes and stock up on new folders and pencils, a new and improved school awaits them just in time for the 2012-13 school year.
As part of the "Campaign for the Next Chapter," a capital fundraising effort with a goal of $1.7 million for school improvements, Wheeling Country Day has added three new buildings to the school's campus including a new Art and Science building and two new classroom buildings to house grades 1-4.
"We're thrilled that we'll have the spaces that match the quality of the curriculum beginning with the 2013 school year," Elizabeth Hofreuter-Landini, head of school, said. "We designed the buildings for the 21st century where we still have classrooms, but the spaces allow for smaller group work and individual learning that we know is something that we have to be prepared for."
Hofreuter-Landini, head of Wheeling Country Day School, left, kneels to talk to Grace Landini, Ella Landini, Ryan
Rutherford and Rachel Rutherford in front of the school’s new Art and
Science building. The new building is part of a major expansion of the school’s offering including three new buildings, a newly renovated kitchen and outdoor
amphitheater and the expansion of continuous education for teachers.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
The buildings were constructed by Bedway Development Corp. with a design that involved the input of students, teachers and architects.
"We talked about a lot of different designs ... but we really wanted to keep it in this campus layout because the kids do spend so much time not just in the classroom but outside too," school spokeswoman Danielle Cross McCracken said of the new buildings. "So they may spend time in the courtyard reading on a nice afternoon making observations about nature and so they're not only learning about science, but they're also practicing (other) skills."
The Art and Science building not only houses the fifth grade classroom, but also a science lab and an art room for all grades and a community room that is used for summer camps, book discussions, parent meetings, a community speaker series and various clubs. According to McCracken, the idea was to keep art and science in close proximity in order to foster crossover learning where a student will be making an art project, but it involves science concepts or vice-versa.
"One of the things that we tried to do was the first building, that was truly going to be the signature building, it's a grander building. So that was really important to us that it was where art and science lived because that's missing in a lot of children's lives, that element of creativity and curiosity and that creative thinking that we now know is so important," Hofreuter-Landini said. "By literally housing those two subjects that are sometimes considered specialties shows that they add value to our school and really cements the idea that they are integral in the education at Wheeling Country Day."
The campaign also funded the completion of a major kitchen renovation and replaced the outside amphitheater. They also plan on constructing miniature science labs for the early childhood classrooms.
"A lot of what we do here is hands-on learning and that's part of the idea is that at a young age if you engage kids to be curious, they develop that foundation to really love learning and build on that," McCracken said.
Along with the physical improvements of the campus, the campaign contributes to the educational advancement of Country Day's teachers in order to continue to improve the students' learning experience. Recently, six members of the faculty attended a workshop with Paula Denton, an author who wrote "Power of our Words" that discusses how teacher language affects student learning.
"Part of our campaign was for teacher enrichment and we already started benefiting from teachers researching reading strategies across the country this summer. We look forward to the students' return so they can benefit from the ongoing learning that the teachers have done," Hofreuter-Landini said. "The teachers also received the opportunity to strengthen and develop their math curriculum over the summer so we're looking forward to our math curriculum being more deeply enriched with problem solving."