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Cowper Campus Renovations: Intentional Design for Early Years Learning and Outdoor Discovery

DSC_0306 2In a few short days, ISTP students will be returning to school for the beginning of an exciting new school year.

This year, we are especially eager to welcome our Early Years Program families back to the brand new Cowper Campus, which has been transformed over the summer thanks to the hard work of our facilities team.

DSC_0317 2The Cowper Campus renovations have updated the appearance of the campus, but more importantly, they have also improved the pedagogical function of the space. Each change is the result of a thoughtful design process, focusing on the specific learning needs of our Early Years Program students, and promoting creative play and discovery.

The design-planning phase, led by Facilities Director Nic Guèdenet, involved extensive research and site visits to local schools as well as the Google campus’ childcare facility. These visits allowed us to see innovative early years pedagogical design in action, and to adapt the best ideas to our own campus.

DSC_0275Visitors to Cowper will be greeted by a new reception area, and will immediately notice new flooring and paint in colors specifically chosen to create an energetic environment that promotes student creativity.

The hallway walls will be covered with an innovative and colorful new material that will allow teachers to display student work in a more versatile way than with traditional corkboards.

Assistant Head of School Kate Lussen explains, “The new walls provide a space to enhance display of student work, and allow more projects to be visible by all constituents. The space is more streamlined, allowing the focus to be on student work, while simultaneously adding inspiration from the increased light and color of the new design. Overall, the renovations create a better view of the projects and engaged learning of the students, so that everyone can learn and be inspired by each other.”

DSC_0037Nic Guèdenet adds, “These changes have transformed the hallway from what was once merely a utilitarian pass-through into an inspiring space that encourages creativity.”

All Cowper classrooms also now have colorful “focus walls,” which have been shown to positively influence learning by increasing attention and focus, especially in children in the Early Years age bracket.

Just as with our interior updates, our playground updates have been thoughtfully designed for the learning needs of Early Years students, encouraging creative play and discovery.

DSC_0182Kate Lussen explains, “The playground on Cowper has been redesigned to offer more depth and variety in their play and further develop their cognitive and gross motor skills. A music wall, construction area, low balance bean, and map of the world are only a few of the examples of the additions to the space. The overall space allows for a better flow of play and discovery.”

In addition to the world map, two new “racetracks” have been added to the blacktop area, as well as an “alphabet train.” The paint colors used on the blacktop match the colors of real bike lanes, handicap spaces, and other road signage, to help familiarize children with the world outside their doors.

Elsewhere on the playground, a new “construction zone” will allow students to build their own creations from pvc pipe, wood, and other raw materials.

Other playground additions include slate boards for drawing, and benches configured into an outdoor classroom.

DSC_0177Head of School Philippe Dietz says, “The new Cowper play area design will allow teachers to use the outside as an extension of their classroom, and will allow students to engage in a variety of athletic and artistic activities that promote a sense of discovery and inspiration.”

Early Years Principal Patricia Majorel adds, “I love the new play spaces. The campus now looks very bright and inviting.”

DSC_0163Students will surely be excited about these changes, and we can’t wait for them to see their new play space next week!

Meanwhile, on Cohn Campus, our Expansion for Innovation updates continued over the summer. Six more classrooms were renovated and all first and second grade classrooms were upgraded with new ergonomic furniture, built-ins, and brand new SMART Boards. New carpet was installed for added warmth and improved acoustics, and the front reception area was upgraded.

All these summer renovations were only possible with the hard work of our dedicated facilities team. They worked long hours and weekends, especially on Cowper Campus, to finish everything by the time students return.
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Facilities Director Nic Guèdenet says, “Everyone worked extremely hard this summer, but José and Rafa truly went above and beyond in their dedication to the projects on Cowper Campus, and I can’t commend them enough.”

Nic adds, “I think all the hard work we did will speak for itself when parents see it. We can’t wait for students to return and start to benefit from all the updates we made.”

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