February 01, 2019

Mini Musings - "[Building] of Dreams"

by Tim Campbell, Middle School Director

One of the classic films from my childhood, Field of Dreams, used the line -- “If you build it, he will come” -- as a means to encourage a young Kevin Costner to be the “master of [his] fate, the captain of [his] soul” in addressing some of the big issues in his life. Sure enough, his beautiful baseball field in the cornfields of Iowa attracts an impressive troupe of baseball greats from the 1919 Chicago White Sox to come and play ball together, and some necessary healing occurs in Costner’s life as his father turns up at the field as well. In essence, he created the vehicle for positive change, and others hopped on. 

Being new to McGillis, I’m impressed with how thoughtfully and intentionally the school was in creating spaces for gathering together as a community. The Gathering Space, the Dining Hall, and the cozy red couch, among other spaces, are vehicles for conversation and shared experiences. In classrooms you’ll find cozy corners, carefully curated classroom libraries, and clever seating arrangements used as vehicles for learning.  

At some point and with great intent, someone decided to put the red couch in that space. Another told the architect to shape the Gathering Space just so, and to build the Kiva within the Library. Teachers stood in the corners of their classrooms in early August, envisioning students in spaces conducive for learning. We “build” the spaces, and our people come to use them often.  

The Commons (upstairs in the Middle School) is yet another space with the potential to bring people together for meaningful interactions. Middle School students gather in the Commons each week for community meetings. Teachers plan lessons best taught within the Commons. The After School program uses the Commons as their Middle School hub. It is a center of much activity and, yet, it needed some modifications to be a space in which Middle School students would want to be after a busy day of classes, or when the air quality is bad during morning break.  

Thanks to some vision and hard work from our very own Matt Schrier, the Commons is now a bustling center of students playing foosball or ping-pong, putting puzzles together or playing board games, drawing on the custom-built whiteboard table, or simply relaxing on the new, cozy furniture and talking with friends. Students are interacting face-to-face rather than face-to-screen. They are having fun and being creative. Again, we built a space to meet the needs of its “users” within our community, and now it is used quite well. 

My after-school lap through the building always includes a walk through each of the School’s gathering spaces. They are always filled with joy, movement, chatter, and friendly faces. In my opinion, the community has successfully constructed the “[Building] of Dreams.”