Campus Conversations: Making the Middle School

You may have noticed all the crashes and bangs coming from within Admin. You may have seen that the bowels of the building are laid open for anyone to see, and that there is graffiti on the walls. What, you may have wondered, is going on?

In brief, Admin is no longer Admin—many of the school’s administrative offices have been kicked out of the building formerly known as such and are now in the NAB—which should no longer be called the “New Academic Building” but perhaps the “New Admin Building.” The headmaster is at the current moment bivouacking in the library, and the UCO is there, too. The learning center is now in the Academy Building, second floor, humanities wing. Oh, and the old Admin will become the site of the new middle school—but don’t worry, the Admissions Office is still there. And if all that isn’t confusing enough, imagine these changes accompanied by dozens of middle school students who will be mingling with us next year.

“Change is difficult,” said Dr. John as he led me through the newly renovated NAB. The HR, Finance, Development, Communications and Educational Technology offices are already furnished, and no longer have the “recently moved in” look. There is candy on the desks, paintings on the walls, and carpets on the floor. While it may take everyone  a while to get used to it, Dr. John says that these changes are necessary to make King’s more efficient. He put it like this: “We are essentially putting like-minded, similar functions near each other.” Take the UCO for example. One used to have to take time to walk all the way over the admin to speak to the college counselors. It was a pleasant walk, but the UCO was somewhat separated from the thick of things. Now it is located in the library, where anyone can pop in to say hi to the counselors. The Learning Center, once located in the NAB, is now located in the humanities wing—where students can visit without having to worry about getting a Tardy 1 in their next class. And all the admin functions that work together are now located in a more compact area.

Think of it this way as well: the students get more room than before. The NAB was originally designed to be an office building. One may have noticed the rather narrow hallways and stubby classrooms that may not be conducive for hurried teenage movement. The old Admin building, with its wider hallways and more space, will be more suitable to house free-thinking teenagers ready to learn.

There are some exciting additions coming to the new middle school as well. First, there will be a makerspace/studio above what used to be the Educational Technology containing 3D printers and other gadgets for students to create and experiment. In addition, there will be more ramps and a glass elevator to make the building more wheelchair friendly. Some of the new classrooms will have wooden floors (lucky!), and they will have glass walls give a sense of openness (ever feel like you are trapped inside a giant concrete building called school?). Dr. John says that these glass walls will also “make the learning and the teaching more visible.” So beware, middle schoolers: you texting your BFF during Arabic class will be seen by Dr. John. But it’s not just that: making the learning and teaching process means that students will get more out of their classes, and set them on the track to become the problem solvers that the King envisioned them to be.

But coming back to the present and the immediate future. The renovation at the middle school is in its final stages, and the building itself will be done by April. After that, it just needs to be furnished and the middle school will be good to go on the first day of school. Dr. John will move out of the library (inshallah) by Spring Break, and settle back down in his usual seat in the middle school. True, change is difficult, but it’s also inevitable—so let’s bear it together.

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