Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trinity School Has a New Campus Master Plan!

Trinity’s New Campus Master Plan

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards they shape us.”  
Winston Churchill, commenting on the rebuilding of the House of Commons
after it was destroyed by German bombing in 1941

Over the last year, Trinity School has undertaken a thorough review of our Campus Master Plan. In January 2014, after a year of surveys, design charrettes, focus group discussions with many stakeholders, and careful consideration of multiple options, Trinity’s Land and Building Committee recommended a new Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the Board unanimously. Architect John Thomas and his team at Boomerang Architects did an excellent job, and I am grateful that in the end a strong consensus emerged around one particular plan. Special thanks go to our Business Manager Brent Clark and to our Land and Building Chair Charles Merritt, who worked tirelessly to see this long process through to the end.

Buildings and campus are not the most important things about TrinityGod, people, and relationships rank higherbut they are important. Churchill’s remark (quoted above) is spot on: We invest a lot in shaping our buildings, and then they shape us in ways we anticipate and also in surprising ways. Since the shaping of human persons and character is at the heart of a school’s purpose, we want to pay close attention to these kinds of things. We have tried to attend to important questions about the shaping of our life together as a TK12 school as we designed this plan: Do we all want to be on one campus together going forward?  (Yes.)  What is Trinity’s optimal size? (600650 students, Lord willing.)  How can we attend to safety as we grow the campus?  How will traffic flow? What kinds of spaces will support the mission of the school? How can we preserve as much green space as possible and increase outdoor access, in keeping with our pedagogy of outdoor education?  How do we want to break bread and eat together as a community as we grow?  Will we want to expand our athletic facilities?

Our Master Plan is a consolidated plan: rather than spreading our buildings out, it locates them close together, so as to maximize green space. It enhances Lower School play areas while providing the option of separate entrances for each division.  

I am excited now to share with the larger Trinity community the outlines of this plan. N.B.: This plan is not funded. Trinity will need to raise significant funds through capital campaigns to make any and all phases a reality.

Let’s start with our current campus as our baseline. Here we are on Google Maps:

TRINITY SCHOOL | Current CampusScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 3.58.55 PM.png

The new Campus Master Plan is designed  to be built out in four phases. (Some of these phases could be combined, but I will lay them out sequentially, so we can see how this unfolds incrementally.) The order of Phases 1 and 2 seems clear to us; Phases 3 and 4 might easily be built in reverse order, or consolidated, depending on many factors we cannot now foresee.

Phase 1

The first phase of our new plan adds one thing and renovates another: We add a Commons Space on the north side of the South Building; and because this Commons space will house the MS and US Library/Media Center, the current MS/US Library can be reimagined for other purposes and will be renovated accordingly. A Commons space is both a student center (a place for breaks, for gathering, for play, for conversation, etc.) and a learning commons (library space, media resources center, a variety of study and collaboration areas). This Commons space will likely be the place where the US has Cornerstone, where the MS and US have their weekly worship, and where MS and US students eat their lunches. It will be a very versatile space.  

Below is a diagrambut first a caution: Remember that a Master Plan is not a footprint of buildings. It is a conceptual and spatial representation of a plan, which needs to be shaped much more carefully. The buildings on this plan are placeholdersthe spaces represent the right amount of square footage (our Master Plan is a very educated guess about the sorts of spaces we think we need), but we should not expect Google Maps to reveal buildings that are shaped and located exactly like this in the future.


MASTER PLAN Phase One




Phase 2

In the second phase of our Campus Master Plan we envision a new two-story Fine Arts Center to be constructed on the west end of the existing South Building. This Fine Arts Center will include a 500-seat black box theater and instructional space for the visual arts,
dramatic arts, and music programs for all grades, TK12.  A new Commons will also be constructed to connect the Lower School and Fine Arts Building to the Learning Commons, and additional space will be built for Trinity’s after-school programs. Other renovations will be made to the South Building, and the site development for Phase 2 will include construction of new angled parking spaces along the existing entry drive.



MAP#2.jpg

MASTER PLAN  Phase Two



Phase 3

Phase 3 of the Trinity School Master Plan consists of new construction and renovation in the existing Lower School Building. A new two-story addition will be constructed on the northeast end of the existing Lower School Building. This addition will create a distinct new entrance for that division and provide space for the LS administration and new LS classrooms. The existing Lower School Building will be extensively renovated to enlarge the existing classrooms and expand the LS library. The site development for Phase 3 will include the creation of a new loop road around the campus, along with new parking and a LS drop-off area. The loop road will allow for the elimination of the existing north entry drive and the construction of a new, expanded LS play area without any traffic interference.

MAP#3.jpg

MASTER PLAN  Phase Three

Phase 4

Phase 4 of the Trinity School Master Plan consists of new construction and
renovation in the existing South Building. A new two-story Upper School Building will
be constructed on the north end of the Fine Arts Center. The Upper School Building will
include classrooms and small group, commons, and administrative space. The lower level of the Upper School Building will also include a 300-seat dining hall and warming kitchen. The South Building will be renovated to house the MS division and the consolidated campus administration, including the admissions, advancement, and business offices, along with other cross-divisional programs.

MAP#4.jpg

MASTER PLAN  Phase Four



Trinity’s New Campus Master Plan

Only the Lord knows how long it will take us to build all four of these phases. And there is no doubt that as the school grows and fills out, amendments to the Master Plan will occur.  But this plan gives us a roadmap to guide us, and we are very grateful for the direction this provides.  

Two final notes, about athletics and parking:

We did look at plans that put buildings on the current athletic fields, but the strong consensus of the leaders was that preserving key athletic events on this campus was an important part of our community life together.  Basketball games on a Friday evening and baseball and soccer on a spring afternoon are vitally important to the life of the school.  So we kept our athletic facilities in place.  We do recognize that for the addition of other sports and for long-term support of current sports (like tennis), we will need to look at a second, satellite campus for some athletic functions of the school. The acquisition of additional land is a corollary of this plan.

This plan modestly augments Trinity’s parking capacity and meets all necessary codes.  We are well aware, however, that the parking in this master plan is inadequate for parking demands, and this plan may necessitate changes in the driving habits of staff and students.  We have placed a premium on keeping all students, TK12, on the same campus, and this results in certain parking challenges. In the long run, we will need to look at carpooling and other strategies to promote high-occupancy vehicles, as well as satellite and remote parking options.

MAP#5.jpg

TRINITY SCHOOL CAMPUS MASTER PLAN

And so we give you, Trinity School’s Campus Master Plan!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trinity Strings Plays Brandenburg Concerto #5

Tonight I stood in the Blue gym next to Warren Gould watching a group of Trinity students, from third grade to Upper School, along with some Trinity string pioneers (Nancy Brooks and Mary Fran Boyce) and community musicians play Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, a favorite of mine and a longtime pipe dream for Trinity.  Strings teacher Carrie Engsberg directed this glorious performance, and the standing ovation was well-deserved.  Warren and I were hooting and hollering at the end!

video


The evening was a great showcase of strings from the Lower School (taught by Nancy and Mary Fran) to the Middle School to several chamber groups of Upper Schoolers led by Carrie.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Pedagogy of Biography Day

Neil Armstrong holds forth on the unique experience of walking on the moon.

Today I stopped by the Kelly Hahne's fourth grade class to see a bit of biography day.  It goes on all morning, with visits from Attila the Hun and George Washington.  I got to meet Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Neil Armstrong, and Bethany Hamilton.  Not a bad morning!  (I didn't know Bethany until this morning, so I met someone new as well and someones famous!)

The new format for biography day is well-conceived.  The students stand around the table with one of their parents, deliver their prepared remarks, and then take questions from the audience.  The audience today, which consisted of fellow biography day fourth graders and Mr. Morganti's fourth grade plus some parents, had a lot of questions.  Loved to see that.

(I wanted to ask a question or two, but I learned the hard way to be cautious some years ago, when I asked what I thought was a good one that really stumped one of the sweetest girls at Trinity and I've never quite recovered from doing that damage.  So I just sat back and listened to everyone's questions.)
What students learn in this?

  • To read something they enjoy
  • To read a biography
  • To inhabit the life of another, factually and also imaginatively
  • To speak publicly, with notecards, in front of an audience
  • To think on their feet
Last week I was with a professional in the Durham community, a man who had spent some time with Trinity students over the last several years.  Said he, "I was very impressed with the way that Trinity students were able to speak in public and articulate."  And he asked, "How do you teach this?"

I tried to answer him, but I wish I could have shown him Biography Day.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Playing the Game of Math

We've been pleased with our transition to Singapore Math in the Lower School.  One of its strengths is that it encourages teachers and students to explore ideas and play with numbers.  It also inspires confidence in students and gives them the intellectual courage to take some risks. 

I've seen several wonderful examples of this recently.  
In one of our third grade classes, students asked the teacher if they could extend the basic thinking about division (Singapore calls it part-part-whole thinking) into very large numbers.  The teacher turned them loose and here are some of the results:

How about a number this big?

Or seven digits?
For this number, . . . 

We needed the whole desk, and then some.























And in another grade, students explored geometry on Pioneer Day.

Finally, here's an example from the TK class, who visited me on my birthday and asked me my age.  Here's what TK teacher Louise Holland writes:

When we visited Dr. Denton for his birthday, he asked the Cubs if we could determine his age if he gives us his birth year.  We began this task by brainstorming ways in which we might figure out his age:  "look at the calendar," "use the 'magic counter' to see if we get the right number," "and go over 1,000 over 100 and see how far we can go." I am not exactly sure how old that would make Dr. Denton, so I gave them a suggestion.  I asked the Cubs if they remembered how old I am, and they remembered that I am 49.  I wrote down my birth year, and we compared the last two digits, 65 and 58.  Next, we used the 100's chart, covered the numbers between 65 and 58, and decided to count back from 65. This was a great exercise for the Cubs to apply concepts such as counting back and breaking down a problem that seemed impossible.  They are very proud to be able to tell Dr. Denton that he is 56 years old! See the picture with Daniel demonstrating our work.  

Voila!  56!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Worshipping with the Fourth Graders

This morning I joined the Lower School for their Worship.  Nat Stine was leading the singing, and I noticed this group of three boys, decked out in their colorful outerwear, arm in arm, singing and praising God.  It was a great Trinity moment.  You can see that I spoiled it just a bit--Jacob and Bowen look back and see that was filming.  Self-consciousness and being on display are counter-productive for real worship.  But I'm glad I captured it nonetheless.

video

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reading Buddies

I stopped by the TK class this morning to see what they were up to.  The room was full of third graders, teamed up with each TK student, sitting at tables and on the floors, enjoying books together.  The joy of learning in community!



Lincoln and Anna Kate enjoy The Cat in the Hat together

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Author Visits Trinity




Children's author Linda Ashman is spending the day at Trinity.  I just came from the Lower School, where our young students were listening to her talk about how she writes.  It's fascinating to me how the process of creating a book is inherently interesting to students.  Their little hands were up all over the place, with questions about how she writes, when, where.  She shared with us about her creative process and where her ideas come from.


She showed us a number of her books--quite a corpus!  Here are some of them:


Later today in the Upper School she will visit with students to talk about their writing.  Many thanks to our librarians Rebecca Caudle and Irma Wright for this great opportunity of learning.