MORRISTOWN, NJ - Spin around slowly at any vantage point on The Peck School campus and you will witness the process of transformation. Peck students are not only transforming intellectually, creatively, and emotionally, they are actively transforming the world around them. And The Peck School campus is undergoing a metamorphosis to keep pace with a transformational curriculum.
Exciting new campus spaces, made possible by the generosity of Peck families, are enabling students to take their ideas further than ever before by incubating and igniting creativity, self-expression, inquiry, problem solving and design thinking.
The re-imagined stand alone Deetjen Kindergarten building, which includes a brand new Kindergarten and First Grade Idea & Design Lab (K.I.D. Lab), an All-School Idea & Design Lab, a Robotics Lab adjacent to the Art Studios, and the 7th and 8th grade Commons are brand new catalytic spaces for conversations and collaborations that will foster in Peck students an abiding joy of discovery – a trait they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
In the new Kindergarten, Peck's youngest students are surrounded by an architectural metaphor for nature, nurture and growth. They can retreat to a cozy nook to read with a friend, or engage in dramatic or fantasy play on the big room’s elevated stage. There is plenty of room to learn, explore and discover. An indoor garden and large window spaces maintain a connection to the outdoor world long after recess is over. “We are really thrilled by the possibilities of the new outdoor classroom. I’m imagining outdoor math scavenger hunts, science investigations, outdoor birthday parties, messy play, and so much more,” says Maribel Mohr, one of Peck’s three full-time Kindergarten faculty.
Fast-forward to fifth grade and Peck students are participating in a yearlong cross-curricular project that focuses on that grade level’s essential question, "What would it take to build a civilization?" The class will attempt to answer that question using Mars as their destination. In the newly built Idea & Design Lab, they will use laser cutters, 3D printers, sewing machines, glue guns, soldering irons, and circuit boards to prototype wearable technology containing conductive threads, as well as possible living spaces and tools needed to survive. In the new Robotics Lab they will design, build, and program robotic Mars Explorers to conduct experiments and navigate a mock-up of the Mars surface, which will be made by students using 3D modeling software and 3D printing.
By 8th grade, Peck students are intentionally blurring the lines between disciplines, incorporating high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech components into their 8th grade Capstone projects. “At the heart of everything is the thinking and the questioning. We want to be asking a child ‘Why, what if, and what about,’ and that can be applied across the board, across Kindergarten through eighth grade and across all subject areas,” says Bruce Schwartz, Director of the new Idea & Design Lab.
Beyond academically motivated transformation, Upper School students will experience interpersonal transformation in the magnificent new 7th and 8th Grade Commons. According to Daisy Savage, Upper School Head, “Using this special dedicated space in the Caspersen-Tomlinson building for quiet study and conversation will become an appropriate and graduated privilege, earned by the students who are beginning to lead the school.” A tech free zone, the Commons will also be used for morning meetings, advisory time, and academic support. The space will become an important hub for our older students and will be surrounded by the offices of the Upper School Head, Psychologist, and Secondary School Counselor.
The Peck School has a long history of timeless traditions, and along with that history, the school cultivates timely and transformative learning –within students, and across the curriculum. With the tremendous financial support of Peck parents, alumni, and friends, the campus master plan took a giant leap forward this summer to create the spaces Peck students need to make sure their character takes root, while their mind takes flight.
Chris Weaver, Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development explains, “We’ve seen innovation across the curriculum from K to 8 — upping engagement and problem solving skills, employing new and better pedagogies, making transformative use of technology. And, now we’re seeing that innovation in our buildings. These two will continue to feed each other. The exciting work in the classroom will push the buildings in new directions; the building spaces will open our students to new opportunities and new ways of coming together as a community of learners. It’s an exciting time at Peck!”
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