EHS retooled several parts of campus over the summer with the goal of enhancing academics and the Episcopal experience.
Soon after the June 1 Commencement, construction crews and staff tackled projects designed and planned throughout 2018-19, with many changes stemming from the EHS Strategic Plan approved by trustees in June 2018.
The “Fab Lab” — the Baker Science Center makerspace — moved to a room twice the size of its former home. The old Fab Lab, meanwhile, was converted to provide the Science Olympiad and robotics teams their first home. “It’s like a high-tech garage — a place where they can work on and keep all their projects, from Rube Goldberg machines to protein models,” says Kim Olsen, chair of the science department.
These moves reflect the growing importance of STEM subjects and the increasing sophistication of the EHS curriculum. It was only about six years ago that the School purchased its first 3D printer and, lacking appropriate space, stowed it in a physics prep lab. Today, the School has eight 3D printers, a laser cutter, and several other pieces of advanced technology.
The new Fab Lab will serve as a work area for the School’s engineering classes, with students building models and prototypes and mastering technology often taught in college courses. It will also serve students doing independent work in science classes as well as the new 3D modeling and robotic programming course introduced this fall.
The first floor of Blackford was reconfigured to create office and meeting space for the new McCain-Ravenel Center for Intellectual and Moral Courage. As outlined in the Strategic Plan, the center will bring together some of the School’s signature initiatives — including service learning, the Leadership and Ethics Program, and the Washington Program — and drive Episcopal’s mission to foster intellectual and moral courage across the curriculum and the entire school.
“We want to connect these programs so that they work in concert as well as with the core academic program, the residential program, and everything else here,” says Jeremy Goldstein, the center’s executive director.
Four new faculty houses were completed, moving the School closer to the Strategic Plan goal of 100 percent of faculty living on campus. Two were built last year, and by September, 86 percent of teaching faculty were living on The Holy Hill.
“Teachers who want to work in boarding community live and breathe for the chance to work with young people,” says Mary Fielder, assistant head of school for academics. “To live on campus is crucial for them to do that work. The connections they can forge with students if they live here are qualitatively different than the relationships they can forge if they commute in and out.”
Technology staff finished work on a yearslong enhancement of the School’s network capacity. Entering the fall, network speed will have increased from 100 megabytes per second about six years ago to 10 gigabytes, according to Marc Carter, the School’s director of technology. The reach of Wi-Fi has been expanded to include Flippin Fieldhouse, the Goodman Squash Courts, and the Bocock Wrestling Cage.
Also, this year’s incoming first-year students are the third class to receive iPads, which have become key to instruction in the science program and other classes. “The money we’re spending on iPads or on enhancing the speed of the network is all critical to the improvements we’re making in the delivery of our education,” Carter says. “I think we’re in a great position technically to take advantage of new opportunities in learning.”
In a smaller tech project, crews installed a digital-media display board in the Ainslie Art Center. This will give students in the nascent but growing digital-media program their first standing showcase for their work on campus.
The Counseling Center has moved from the McAllister Health Center to the second floor of Hoxton House, which puts it close to the offices for student life, college counseling, and the academic deans. Kristin Hosmer, director of counseling, says the move is intended to help students will take advantage of the center’s many services and visit regularly.
“We hope that students will come to see the new space as a resource for learning more about healthy choices and finding balance,” she says. “We want to change the perception that going to a counselor means there is something wrong or that you are sick, and we hope the new space will promote healthy dialogue and wellness."
The School this fall added a third, part-time counselor to its staff, part of the Strategic Plan’s goal to help students pursue their ambitions yet also lead healthy lives.
Students who spearhead key EHS campus groups joined with mid-career global leaders in a leadership workshop today in downtown Washington — the first initiative of a partnership forged by Episcopal’s newly created McCain-Ravenel Center for Intellectual and Moral Courage with the McCain Institute, a D.C. think tank.