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VOL. 128 | NO. 193 | Thursday, October 03, 2013

Class Project

Woodland breaks ground on school expansion

By Michael Waddell

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Woodland Presbyterian School broke ground Monday on phase one of a church and campus overhaul and expansion, a project that will include the construction of a building to be used for seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms and a technology lab.

“This project will triple the size of our current classrooms for our seventh- and eighth-graders, and it will allow for more 21st century teaching and learning space where students can work cooperatively in groups,” said Adam Moore, head of school at Woodland Presbyterian School. “We are building it with the future in mind, as far as the ability to add more levels and complete other expansions.”

Woodland Presbyterian School fifth-graders, from left, Rucker Barclay, James Graves, Brayden Howerton and Jack Fortenberry study Plymouth Rock. The school has started a campus expansion project.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The project is funded by the Woodland Presbyterian Church and School’s “United We Grow” capital campaign, which began after a new master plan was finalized in 2009. So far, Woodland has raised $3.1 million toward its $3.3 million goal, thanks in part to a recent $250,000 grant from The Assisi Foundation of Memphis Inc., as well as private donations – averaging roughly $10,000 – from more than 300 alumni, faculty members and students’ families.

“We are not a huge church and school, so having 300 gifts is impressive,” said Moore, who explained that 100 percent of the school’s faculty is contributing.

Phase one, which will cost about $2.5 million, will encompass the new middle school building, a new plaza area and a reimagined face for the school, which is on Park Avenue in East Memphis. Fleming Architects designed the master plan, and Grinder Taber Grinder Inc. is the general contractor handling construction.

“The new classrooms will allow the faculty the space to teach the way they want to teach. They are a bit confined in the current space,” said Moore, who joined the school 11 years ago as a teacher and became head of the school six years ago. “The need for more flexible space is really what 21st century learning is all about. The old model of education was teacher-directed, but now the students are directing their own learning in a lot of ways.”

The new tech lab will have stadium seating and the capability for students to use laptops, iPads, recording devices and other gadgets.

The remaining $800,000 from the campaign will fund phase two of the capital improvements, set to begin next summer. That project will include extensive renovations of the school’s early-childhood through second-grade classrooms, along with the church’s choir suite, youth meeting spaces and Sunday school classrooms.

Woodland does not plan to take on additional students with the new space. The school’s current enrollment is 340 students, with students in preschool through eighth grade.

“This will be more space for the number of students we already have,” said Moore. “Our size is one thing that makes us unique. We can take a lot of time with individual students and can customize the education for them.”

Woodland Presbyterian School is a coeducational independent school built in 1956. Its last major renovations took place in the early 1990s, and that $1.5 million project featured new science labs, administrative offices and classrooms.

Woodland Presbyterian Church celebrates its 60th anniversary this month.

“The church and school worked on the master plan together because we share such a small piece of property,” Moore said. “We strategically planned and ran the fundraising campaign together, so it definitely meets the top needs for us both.”

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