The 2019-20 school year kicked off with the opening of our beautiful new Creekside building. The classrooms were prepped and ready for excited students on the first day of school. Students and teachers have spent the fall settling into the new spaces.
The building features six new science classrooms (for grades 5-8), three science prep spaces, three offices, two gender-neutral bathrooms, two general classrooms, and a generous outdoor classroom space.
The Creekside building not only provides much-needed space for our Upper School students and program but also increases the opportunities for faculty to interact across grades and disciplines.
One teacher said, “The connecting door between my room and my math colleague has facilitated daily collaboration between us. It's been super helpful.”
The large windows that open up to Ring Mountain make me feel more connected to nature and help me feel more relaxed during class,” said one 8th grader.
Nestled into the hillside, the structure blends in with the natural surroundings and landscape of the upper campus. The labs and classrooms are accessible from wide, covered breezeways that open onto the grassy field, the newly restored creekbed, and sweeping views of Ring Mountain and Mount Tamalpais. Floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors bring the outdoors in.
"The large windows that open up to Ring Mountain make me feel more connected to nature and help me feel more relaxed during class,” said one 8th grader.
The classroom spaces were designed, and equipped, with flexibility in mind. Moveable furniture allows teachers to easily configure the room for a range of class activities.
“It's been great to be able to move tables according to the day's science class activities,” one teacher commented. “U-shaped arrangements for class discussions quickly shift into table groups of four students during labs, and when extra room is needed for student-movement activities — like the kinetic motion of molecule simulations — we push all the tables to the sides to leave the center of the room wide open for the activity.”
An outdoor classroom space next to the creek provides the perfect location for the observation of the upper watershed. The benches that form the boundary of the observation area were made from wood that was salvaged from two centuries-old Redwood trees. [Read more about the Redwood benches.]
In addition to the flexibility of the classrooms, the wide breezeways are also being utilized as an extension of the indoor teaching spaces.
Said one science teacher, “On a few occasions, we’ve stepped out of class and onto the breezeway when working with fire. For example, we went outside the classroom to burn a Cheeto, when students were learning about starch, glucose and cellular respiration. It's easy to step in and out when needed and I love that I have that option.“
Upper School science teachers and students are also making great use of the new and improved science equipment — from battery-powered microscopes with high-quality lenses to Vernier sensors and gas burners.
In one 6th grade lab about the density of the earth’s crust, for example, students learned how to use new digital Triton T3 scales to weigh two types of rocks — granite and basalt.
“The new equipment is amazing!” said an Upper School science teacher. “Digital tools, such as the balances, calipers, and infrared thermometers have saved students time when investigating.”
Both students and teachers appreciate the many benefits that these new flexible classrooms and improved outdoor spaces provide. The upper campus feels complete and provides many new spaces both inside and outside for students to enjoy.