New facilities. A changing landscape on campus. The future of Providence Day School continues to take shape.
“Our school is a dynamic one, constantly evolving to meet the needs of our students, faculty and staff to uphold our vision for Providence Day as a world-class learning environment,” said Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw, Head of School.
Now in the final stretch of a five-year journey, the Charging Forward campaign represents an enduring approach to safeguarding PDS’s future, both within and beyond the classroom.
The $27 million comprehensive campaign, the largest fundraising initiative undertaken in PDS’s 48-year history, entails three investment priorities: capital projects, doubling the school’s endowment and growing the Annual Fund, which supplements each year’s operating budget in support of student programs, campus resources and faculty professional development.
“The Charging Forward campaign is indeed a bold effort for our school community, whose passion for Providence Day and investment in its future continues to amaze me,” said Dr. Cowlishaw. “At its successful conclusion, the campaign will be transformational for our campus and for future generations of students.”
Much of that transformation is already apparent.
“You only need to come on campus and look around to see the power of what we’re able to accomplish together as a Providence Day School family,” said Cathy Bessant, Charging Forward’s campaign chair.
More than $25 million has been raised toward the $27 million goal, due to the generosity of so many within the PDS community.
“The tremendous progress of the campaign is attributed to the incredible support and passion of our entire Providence Day community,” said Jeffrey Appel, Associate Head of School for Institutional Advancement.
“We are sincerely grateful for all who are helping to shape the future of the school,” he said.
It was fall of 1991 that eight modular units, known as ReLos (relocatables), became a “temporary” home to various classes. Fourteen years later, in fall of 2005, the aging ReLos were replaced with the 19,040-square-foot building comprised of 24 modules that became known as the “West Wing” due to its location on the western part of campus.
Fast forward to May 2013, when the Board of Trustees voted and approved launching the quiet phase of a new campaign. PDS celebrated the public launch of that campaign in September 2015 with more than $15 million in commitments.
With more than $18.6 million raised by April 2016, a groundbreaking was held the following month.
Then in December 2017, PDS held a celebratory ribbon cutting for the new Academic Center, DeMayo Gateway Center and split-level parking deck.
The four-story, 80,542-square-foot Academic Center features 32 learning labs, a 150-seat lecture theater, flexible learning space, faculty hubs, conference rooms, student lounges, Global Café, Spirit Store and more.
The building was designed with input from faculty and students. Classrooms, known as learning labs, have been structured and furnished as flexible, mixed-use spaces to facilitate research study, student interaction and creativity. Faculty benefit from collaborative meeting rooms and interdepartmental groupings that foster cross-discipline programming and planning.
“We already have the highest of standards, but with our new learning labs here; the emphasis on collaboration, creativity and small-group learning will be so very powerful in all that it can do to enhance our teaching and learning,” said Dr. Cowlishaw.
The World Language Department’s new home on the fourth floor definitely inspires, according to chair Mary Jo Adams.
“Natural light pouring in, ‘writeable’ walls, portable technology — all of which allow us to change our learning space based on our goals for the day,” she said.
And the four new language labs are “an incredible teaching tool to increase listening and speaking skills,” she added, “and a source of excitement and motivation for our students to continue their language practice and learning.”
The language labs each employ 24 headsets that can connect students with individual or multiple partners for interpersonal communication and with small collaborative groups for presentational communication. Classroom teachers can monitor, coach and assess students as they progress from performance to proficiency.
“I am thrilled that we have modern, healthy, flexible and agile spaces that support multiple configurations and active learning,” said Derrick Willard, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs.
“I love to walk down the halls any given morning as I rarely see two rooms set up the same way,” he said.
Their new home on the second floor has made Connie Scully’s Middle School English classes a “happier, more effective group.”
“The flexibility of working with students in small or large groups in wonderfully comfortable furnishings enhances all that we do,” she said.
Often, she said, activities comfortably spill out to the collaborative spaces at either end of the hallways or to the wooden benches.
“Students read, collaborate, write and discuss in every space of the second floor … they chat, they study, they laugh,” said Scully. “I know they appreciate this space and all it offers. (They) are comfortable in this space. This becomes even more clear with each passing day.”
“I am excited for the students to have these incredible resources at their disposal,” said Nancy Downing, Advancement Committee chair of the Board of Trustees.
“What this means to the school is that it will launch us forward in a lot of ways,” she said, “but in a lot of ways it will ensure that Providence Day will stay the same special community and great place that it’s always been.”
The Academic Center also allows PDS to make better use of current space, re-purposing existing buildings to more strategically serve the student community. The West Wing, which was removed from campus this spring, will be repurposed to serve a charter school in eastern North Carolina.
“Although no longer part of our campus, the West Wing will continue to serve as a source of teaching and learning,” said Appel.
“I am excited for the possibilities the space affords our campus life,” said Dr. Cowlishaw. “In the short-term, plans are for practice and playing fields to be created for use by our students, very similar to the adjacent upper field.”
Long-term use will be determined as part of the upcoming campus master planning process.
Gateway to Greatness
The two-story, 7,200-square-foot DeMayo Gateway Center, and the two-story parking deck outside of it, combine to create a more welcoming entrance to campus.
With both the Admissions and College Guidance offices located in the building, students begin and end their journeys at the same place — a powerful symbol of PDS’s TK to 12th grade education.
“We have noticed that visitors and families sense a balanced experience as they enter the DeMayo Gateway Center,” said Cecil Stodghill, Admissions and Enrollment Management director. “I think that they appreciate the new, more formal vibe, yet still garner a sense of comfort and cozy.”
The building provides ample space for meetings and events.
“With all due respect to the ‘old house,’ Providence Day’s original building, our new College Guidance suite on the second floor of the DeMayo Gateway Center has revitalized and transformed the way we serve students, families and colleges,” said Jack Whelan, College Guidance director.
“Our new roomier, and certainly sunnier, offices are proving to be perfect spaces for individual and family meetings, and the increased number of conference rooms enable visiting college representatives to meet easily with our students,” he said.
The new grassy courtyard between the DeMayo Gateway Center, Academic Center and Thompson-Jones Library is reminiscent of a collegiate-style quad.
But the campaign’s success is more than just the facilities.
Since 2012, the school’s endowment has grown from $5.4 million to $12.7 million (as of February 2018). The Annual Fund continues to be successful, raising almost $1.375 million in 2017.
“With another record-breaking Annual Fund campaign, it is evident than our Providence Day community believes in the school’s mission to enhance teaching-learning opportunities and inspire our students to succeed,” said Appel.
The Annual Fund’s 2017-18 goal is $1.35 million, and “we are thankful for the enthusiastic support we’ve already received from our community for this year’s effort,” said Appel.
And there is still time for the PDS community to contribute to the success.
The Charging Forward campaign officially ends Dec. 31, 2018, and all are encouraged to show their support.
“We are tremendously grateful to the support of all in our community who have and will make a positive impact toward the success of the campaign and the future of Providence Day School,” said Bessant. “Thank you for believing in our mission, and doing your part to enhance the teaching and learning environment for future generations of Chargers.”
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