The last 6 months or so have been quite a whirlwind for a lot of people on the Grove School team. Regardless, it has been and continues to be a rewarding experience for all of us. The vision of what the schools would look and feel like is complete and we are very proud of the results.
Inside, the classrooms feature warm colors with soft accent hues for contrast. The flooring is recycled rubber that is softer, quieter, more forgiving and better for the environment than traditional tile. The classrooms have “old school” and “new school” technology. We have Hatch “smart” boards that offer the latest in computer learning tools, but we also have chalk boards for all kinds of traditional fun. Our sinks are composite in a cool “kidney” shape with hands-free functionality, reducing germs and saving water. We have textured soft ceiling tiles with more contemporary lighting, a custom made casework package and stained wood doors. Our classroom signs and environmental messaging boards explaining some of our initiatives are sprinkled throughout the building. I just love our classroom signs. They are really fun, complete with Grove School style icons that speak to our experience.
If I could sum up all the things we did with one feature it would either be our classrooms signs or the recycled cylinder “drum” we have out in the playground. You just do not see things like these anywhere let alone in an educational environment.
Outside, we have a greenhouse, a stage, a marimba, arbors, a climbing rock, water features for play and learning, soft, zero-maintenance turf instead of grass, sand play areas and more recycled-content pieces than you can imagine.
Our benches, picnic tables, chairs, planter boxes, bird houses, stage decking and cylinder drum are all made from recycled materials. Our friends at KOMPAN provided us with some wonderful outdoor play pieces that also feature sustainable construction. In addition, the playground features large trees, art areas, cool, curved trike paths, stools and we are working on a compost and rain barrel area that will be in place very soon.
Why did we do the playground this way? The Grove School does it this way because we wanted something different, fresh, inspirational and engaging for children to explore.
Although we are all beyond excited about the entire offering, what matters most is you and your children. As a potential Grove School parent, we wanted to make sure you understood just how committed we are to bringing your child an unbelievable experience that you cannot find anywhere else. When you walk through our school and connect with our incredible people we think you will understand. Everything we have done is based on our collective experience pushing the envelope. Ultimately though, the Grove School is meaningful to me not just because I had a hand in making it happen, it is meaningful to me because I am a parent, too.
View more photos of our indoor and outdoor classrooms on our Flickr photostream.
Here are some photos of the greenhouse, climbing rock and xylophone before they get installed, and one of our green benches.
We are putting the finishing touches on our first two Grove School projects in Cary, NC and Plano, TX. So many people from across the country contributed to the physical completion and set up of these two schools. I cannot say enough about the efforts made by so many to make this all happen.
In particular, it is beyond inspiring to work side by side with our teaching staff during the school set up process and feel their passion for the Grove School mission and how that will translate to our children and families. When the right physical environment marries with inspired, energetic, passionate and forward thinking educators, the results are nothing short of awesome.
Here are a few photos of our classrooms. I’ll post more photos in additional posts. Please come and visit us soon!
It is so inspiring to see the culmination of our team’s work come together. So much has gone into the development of our new brand in discussions, on paper, in numerous research exercises and so on. With both of our projects now under construction, it was really exciting to see our sign for the very first time.
We developed a prototype street sign to be used in Plano, TX and had it shipped to our offices for inspection. These photos taken from the production floor prior to shipping are the first any of us has seen of this important part of the school’s exterior.
Our sign strategy echoes many of the cultural traits consistent with The Grove School. We used recycled metal products for starters. The main components of the sign give it a very unique, contemporary and forward looking feel. In addition, the sign is externally illuminated which should save us energy and maintenance.
We feel that our sign is very representative of how we do things and that you will find the inside of our schools and playgrounds equally unique, contemporary and forward thinking.
Here are some renderings for The Grove School of Cary. To see the details in each picture, check them out on our Flickr page.
When we set out to establish the outdoor experience for The Grove School–just like the classroom experience–we wanted it to be different. We want our parents, our children and our own staff to see it for the first time and come away thinking it is completely unique, interesting, dynamic and a difference-maker in a child’s growth opportunity.
We want children to explore, to experience a sensory environment with natural elements, to plant and watch things grow and, at the same time, connect these tangible experiences with learning in the classroom. Our mission is that everything must tell a story. All of our choices inside the building and outside are meant to enhance a child’s learning experience.
For example, when we made the choice to select recycled content plastic benches for adults and children, we now have the opportunity to share how those benches were made with everyone. The benches are made from recycled plastic household consumer items. Items that we all use everyday. We loved the benches so much–and, by the way, we have them in both adult and child size–we ended up buying planter boxes made of the same recycled plastic. The planter boxes will help us share gardening and a very cool sensory experience.
Music is such a great thing. There are some fantastic musical items available these days and even musical items suitable for the outdoors. We have two examples at The Grove School. One of them, currently dubbed our “Plant Drum,” was originally a gas cylinder. The cylinder was recycled, cut in half and then finished with special grooves that, when struck, create a musical note. Children will be able to explore their own musical gifts in a really neat way.
The Grove School team is only scratching the surface and will continue to strive to create unique experiences for our children. The concept of pushing ourselves to deliver today and tomorrow is why being part of The Grove School is such an inspiring thing.
The overall experience for our children, parents and staff is meant to be unique with a clear goal of using sustainable materials and energy efficient technology whenever possible.
One thing really stood out when we researched and visited other providers. We noticed a tremendous degree of “sameness” amongst other preschools, to the point where they were hard to tell apart, especially when it came to physical elements. Frankly, most were pretty boring.
With The Grove School we wanted to say something different and blaze our own trail. Our buildings retain as much as we can of the existing materials, because it’s our belief that there’s nothing more sustainable than using what we’ve got wisely. And we replace only items that allow us to enhance the experience and tell a story.
We’re using recycled content flooring, casework, turf and playground equipment. Our lighting and plumbing fixtures are more energy efficient than industry standard. Even our signs feature low impact and recycled content materials.
The first two pilot schools are only the first steps in this direction. We wanted to push the envelope a bit and challenge everyone. But I want to stress that we have only begun. When you make a commitment to be a leader, you can never stop pushing the envelope. We expect even more from ourselves as the school grows.