Page 1



THE SCHOOL



Beth Webb Hart, Ashley Hall writer in residence, reads from her latest novel.

Perhaps the most crucial task for any school administration is to prepare for the future through the creation and execution of strategic and master plans. Ashley Hall’s new Master Plan and educational philosophy are unveiled in the next sections of this Perspectives. The planned, programmatic transformation of our classical curriculum, already bearing early fruit in today’s course of study, will continue to spiral outward, more closely integrating all areas and levels of study. This logical evolution has its roots extending back to the original school curriculum established by Miss McBee nearly a century ago. 13 Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

tion includes daily classes for Lower School split between gym, aquatics, and dance. Middle and Upper School PE focuses on developing lifetime physical fitness habits. The PE curriculum is augmented by intramural sports and nine interscholastic sports programs. Sixty-five percent of Ashley Hall Middle and Upper School students participate on interscholastic teams every year. The Wellness Program offers lectures, workshops, counseling and guidance on virtually every topic important to maturing girls and young women. In addition, the School has instituted a Dean of Students who oversees student activities. Administratively, the school has grown in order to oversee the operation of an increasingly complex institution and to meet the professional and educational needs of its faculty, staff and students. In the last 20 years the School gained the Admission and Advancement Offices, began financial aid programs, instituted teaching awards, an endowment for career development, and created student scholarships. A Dean of Faculty directs curriculum design and supervises faculty professional development. A full-time school nurse is now on staff with a dedicated infirmary and a Human Resources specialist oversees personnel requirements. All of this is indicative of a thriving school, literally and figuratively bursting at its seams with new students, programs and plans. Perhaps the most crucial task for any school administration is to prepare for the future through the creation and execution of strategic and master plans. Ashley Hall’s new Master Plan and educational philosophy are unveiled in the next sections of this Perspectives. The planned, programmatic transformation of our classical curriculum, already bearing early fruit in today’s course of study, will continue to spiral outward, more closely integrating all areas and levels of study. This logical evolution has its roots extending back to the original school curriculum established by Miss McBee nearly a century ago. As you view the new Master Plan and read about the goals behind it in the coming pages, you will find the School transformed in order to best serve its students well into the future. Yet, for all of the change, this is a vision that holds fast to those sacred values and spaces that define Ashley Hall in the hearts and minds of generations of proud women, and one its founder would recognize and embrace.

Planning for the

Second Century A

shley Hall’s Board of Trustees decided in the late eighties that it was important for the school to undertake a Master Plan to secure Ashley Hall’s future. When the addition to the Lower School was officially opened in 2005,Trustee Emeritus Hugh Lane, Jr. remarked that this was the last phase of Ashley Hall’s Master Plan developed in 1988. As we look to Ashley Hall’s Centennial in 2009 and prepare for this wonderful celebration, the Board of Trustees is once again looking to secure Ashley Hall’s future by undertaking a new Master Plan. This plan will enable Ashley Hall to adapt to a changing educational environment while meeting the programmatic needs of a classical education for the 21st century and beyond.






THE MASTER PLAN

The Board is particularly pleased with this Master Plan because it is driven by programmatic initiatives. A great deal of research and forethought went in to making this Plan a workable strategy that was appropriate for our learning environment. We now know, through numerous research studies, that girls learn in very different ways from boys. As we strategically plan for the future, we want to position Ashley Hall to be a top-tier educational program which has the distinction of being an all-girls school. The Board envisions an instructional program targeted to the needs of the individual, and augmented facilities to accomplish this goal. We currently encompass a variety of teaching and learning styles, and using a portfolio approach, will be increasing this capacity in the future. The initiatives that are part of the Master Plan will enable our students to learn through a variety of disciplines. For example, an idea presented in a humanities class could be re-examined in an art or language class. Bringing in the perspectives of other disciplines can further cultivate the idea. This approach will serve to develop the complexity of thought and learning needed to better educate the whole person. Our focus on a core curriculum of classical education can also incorporate new research findings about how girls learn best, such as using small group discussion and hands-on learning. The Master Plan provides the space for corporate, individual and small group learning, allowing students to revisit concepts taught in the classroom using different techniques and experiences. The Board undertook the process of creating the new Master Plan by first reviewing and updating the goals and objectives of the School’s Strategic Plan. We sought the advice of nationally respected educators, including Dr. Jim Hendrix (see related article) to refine the process and assemble recommendations to bring the new Master Plan into existence. The Board chose the firm of Shepley Bullfinch Richardson Abbot (see related article) to create a physical plan that will best serve the curricular and environmental requirements of Ashley Hall in the foreseeable future. SBRA has nearly a century and a half of specialized architectural planning experience pertaining to educational institutions with a deep understanding of the distinctions of designing for single-sex schools as well as being sensitive to building within historic districts. The resulting, multiphased, program-driven, Master Plan is the embodiment of our objectives. By embarking on this Master Plan, the Board envisions a learning community that will continue to produce well-educated, confident, life-long

ASHLEY HALL LONG RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE Philip Horn, Chair Trustees: John Darby Brett Hildebrand Helen Turner Hill ’81 Elizabeth Rivers Lewine ’54 Elizabeth Barone Luzuriaga ’80 Kaycee Poston Bart Proctor Heidi Ward Ravenel ’74 Fred Reinhard Nick Bozanic, ex officio Deanne Lucas Doscher ’79, ex officio Cindy Hay Johnson, ex officio Jill Muti, ex officio Karen Jenkins Phillips ’79, ex officio J. Conrad Zimmerman, Jr., ex officio

learners prepared to embrace the challenges of the 21st century. We want to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and facilities necessary not only to turn these challenges into opportunities, but also to become leaders in these endeavors. The Board is envisioning an exciting future for Ashley Hall and is taking the steps through this Master plan to make that vision a reality. We look forward to a time in the future when a long-time Board member like Hugh Lane stands at a dedication ceremony of the final phase of this Master Plan, knowing that this was a superb foundation for the future of Ashley Hall. Karen Jenkins Phillips ’79 President, Ashley Hall Board of Trustees

15 Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Master Planning Team: D R . J I M H E N D R I X

L ONG

Master Planning Team: R ANGE P LANNING C OMMITTEE

continued from page 14



Master Planning Team: Dr. Jim Hendrix

S

cholar, leader, visionary,

historian, communicator, outdoorsman, and gentleman: all of these labels have been used to describe Dr. Jim Hendrix.

S

So, when Ashley Hall Head of School Jill Muti sought advice and input during the development of our Strategic and Master Campus Plans, friend and colleague Hendrix was at the top of her list.

“Jim has seen and done it all,” says Muti, “from creating innovative interdisciplinary courses like his American Studies program to leading comprehensive master campus planning campaigns and overseeing their successful implementation. He has earned a national reputation for scholarship and outstanding leadership. Jim has been an invaluable asset to us, conducting workshops for the Board, meeting with teachers and providing proven recommendations.” Hendrix, who calls the mountains of North Carolina home, seems to spend more time in the air than a commercial pilot. Between acting as the Interim Head of the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, consulting, guiding fly-fishing expeditions in Colorado and leading Lewis and Clark tours on the Columbia River, the education trailblazer is rarely at rest. “I’m semi-retired,” he says with a smile, referring to the more than 25 years he spent as a Head of School and teacher, most recently at the Lovett School in Atlanta where he “retired” in 2002 after a dozen years at the helm. “My role in Ashley Hall’s planning process was really that of facilitator. I lead a series of workshops for the Board where we discussed my experience with master campus planning programs – things like processes, lesson’s learned, and recommendations, that sort of detail and organized that to support Ashley Hall’s program. “I also met with faculty about the implementation of integrated courses like the new Humanities studies Ashley Hall now includes in its curriculum. A few years ago, several Ashley Hall teachers attended my American Studies Institute workshops at the Lovett School in Atlanta and are now designing a similar program for Ashley Hall. We discussed their progress and I was happy to offer some tips based upon my experiences in similar situations.” Hendrix is enthusiastic about what he sees at Ashley Hall. “I have to commend the school, the Board, Jill, everybody for getting behind the strategic planning process. I’ve always loved a little book by a psychologist named David Campbell. It’s titled, If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else. A school needs to know where it’s going and how it’s going to get there. That’s what strategic planning is about and, in the case of Ashley Hall, you’re already experiencing good and normal growth and logically can expect that to continue, so how do you best serve those students? How can you do it in a fairly limited footprint of physical space? “Your Strategic and Master Campus Plans are the keys to achieving your goals. The Board and the administration have done a great job defining those strategic goals and in selecting Shepley Bullfinch Richardson & Abbot to help turn that strategic vision into a campus master plan. “I’ve admired Ashley Hall for years; I’ve known a lot of impressive people who are graduates. It has a rich background and an even more dynamic future. The future of this place is very, very bright.”

16 Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES




THE MASTER PLAN

The Board is particularly pleased with this Master Plan because it is driven by programmatic initiatives. A great deal of research and forethought went in to making this Plan a workable strategy that was appropriate for our learning environment. We now know, through numerous research studies, that girls learn in very different ways from boys. As we strategically plan for the future, we want to position Ashley Hall to be a top-tier educational program which has the distinction of being an all-girls school. The Board envisions an instructional program targeted to the needs of the individual, and augmented facilities to accomplish this goal. We currently encompass a variety of teaching and learning styles, and using a portfolio approach, will be increasing this capacity in the future. The initiatives that are part of the Master Plan will enable our students to learn through a variety of disciplines. For example, an idea presented in a humanities class could be re-examined in an art or language class. Bringing in the perspectives of other disciplines can further cultivate the idea. This approach will serve to develop the complexity of thought and learning needed to better educate the whole person. Our focus on a core curriculum of classical education can also incorporate new research findings about how girls learn best, such as using small group discussion and hands-on learning. The Master Plan provides the space for corporate, individual and small group learning, allowing students to revisit concepts taught in the classroom using different techniques and experiences. The Board undertook the process of creating the new Master Plan by first reviewing and updating the goals and objectives of the School’s Strategic Plan. We sought the advice of nationally respected educators, including Dr. Jim Hendrix (see related article) to refine the process and assemble recommendations to bring the new Master Plan into existence. The Board chose the firm of Shepley Bullfinch Richardson Abbot (see related article) to create a physical plan that will best serve the curricular and environmental requirements of Ashley Hall in the foreseeable future. SBRA has nearly a century and a half of specialized architectural planning experience pertaining to educational institutions with a deep understanding of the distinctions of designing for single-sex schools as well as being sensitive to building within historic districts. The resulting, multiphased, program-driven, Master Plan is the embodiment of our objectives. By embarking on this Master Plan, the Board envisions a learning community that will continue to produce well-educated, confident, life-long

ASHLEY HALL LONG RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE Philip Horn, Chair Trustees: John Darby Brett Hildebrand Helen Turner Hill ’81 Elizabeth Rivers Lewine ’54 Elizabeth Barone Luzuriaga ’80 Kaycee Poston Bart Proctor Heidi Ward Ravenel ’74 Fred Reinhard Nick Bozanic, ex officio Deanne Lucas Doscher ’79, ex officio Cindy Hay Johnson, ex officio Jill Muti, ex officio Karen Jenkins Phillips ’79, ex officio J. Conrad Zimmerman, Jr., ex officio

learners prepared to embrace the challenges of the 21st century. We want to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and facilities necessary not only to turn these challenges into opportunities, but also to become leaders in these endeavors. The Board is envisioning an exciting future for Ashley Hall and is taking the steps through this Master plan to make that vision a reality. We look forward to a time in the future when a long-time Board member like Hugh Lane stands at a dedication ceremony of the final phase of this Master Plan, knowing that this was a superb foundation for the future of Ashley Hall. Karen Jenkins Phillips ’79 President, Ashley Hall Board of Trustees

15 Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Master Planning Team: D R . J I M H E N D R I X

L ONG

Master Planning Team: R ANGE P LANNING C OMMITTEE

continued from page 14



Master Planning Team: Dr. Jim Hendrix

S

cholar, leader, visionary,

historian, communicator, outdoorsman, and gentleman: all of these labels have been used to describe Dr. Jim Hendrix.

S

So, when Ashley Hall Head of School Jill Muti sought advice and input during the development of our Strategic and Master Campus Plans, friend and colleague Hendrix was at the top of her list.

“Jim has seen and done it all,” says Muti, “from creating innovative interdisciplinary courses like his American Studies program to leading comprehensive master campus planning campaigns and overseeing their successful implementation. He has earned a national reputation for scholarship and outstanding leadership. Jim has been an invaluable asset to us, conducting workshops for the Board, meeting with teachers and providing proven recommendations.” Hendrix, who calls the mountains of North Carolina home, seems to spend more time in the air than a commercial pilot. Between acting as the Interim Head of the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, consulting, guiding fly-fishing expeditions in Colorado and leading Lewis and Clark tours on the Columbia River, the education trailblazer is rarely at rest. “I’m semi-retired,” he says with a smile, referring to the more than 25 years he spent as a Head of School and teacher, most recently at the Lovett School in Atlanta where he “retired” in 2002 after a dozen years at the helm. “My role in Ashley Hall’s planning process was really that of facilitator. I lead a series of workshops for the Board where we discussed my experience with master campus planning programs – things like processes, lesson’s learned, and recommendations, that sort of detail and organized that to support Ashley Hall’s program. “I also met with faculty about the implementation of integrated courses like the new Humanities studies Ashley Hall now includes in its curriculum. A few years ago, several Ashley Hall teachers attended my American Studies Institute workshops at the Lovett School in Atlanta and are now designing a similar program for Ashley Hall. We discussed their progress and I was happy to offer some tips based upon my experiences in similar situations.” Hendrix is enthusiastic about what he sees at Ashley Hall. “I have to commend the school, the Board, Jill, everybody for getting behind the strategic planning process. I’ve always loved a little book by a psychologist named David Campbell. It’s titled, If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else. A school needs to know where it’s going and how it’s going to get there. That’s what strategic planning is about and, in the case of Ashley Hall, you’re already experiencing good and normal growth and logically can expect that to continue, so how do you best serve those students? How can you do it in a fairly limited footprint of physical space? “Your Strategic and Master Campus Plans are the keys to achieving your goals. The Board and the administration have done a great job defining those strategic goals and in selecting Shepley Bullfinch Richardson & Abbot to help turn that strategic vision into a campus master plan. “I’ve admired Ashley Hall for years; I’ve known a lot of impressive people who are graduates. It has a rich background and an even more dynamic future. The future of this place is very, very bright.”

16 Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES


S HEPLEY

Master Planning Team: B ULFINCH R ICHARDSON & A BBOTT

Master Planning Team: Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott

(l-r) Ann Newman, Jon Ross, Susan Hoadley and Sandy Howe

S

hepley Bulfinch Richardson &

Abbott (SBRA) is a national design practice serving the education, healthcare, science, corporate and public markets with architecture,

S

planning and interior design services. Established in 1874 by the American architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, SBRA is one of the oldest continuously - practicing architectural firms in the nation and the oldest in Boston. SBRA employs a staff of 180 professionals and serves clients worldwide from its Boston headquarters.

SBRA has been recognized with awards from leading client and design organizations for over a century, and has been widely published in trade and consumer media throughout the world. In the past decade alone, SBRA has received more than fifty design awards for libraries and academic buildings; healthcare and science facilities; civic and cultural buildings; interior design and detailing; and preservation projects. The firm also has been widely acclaimed for its collaborative approach to projects and successful partnerships with clients and affiliated organizations. In 1997, SBRA was named one of America's best-managed firms in a survey by Architectural Record magazine. Recent education clients include Agnes Scott College (all women), Dana Hall School (all girls), Emma Willard (all girls), Concord Academy, Yale University, Duke University, Emory University, Elon University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, The Lovett School, and Phillips Academy. The SBRA team for the Ashley Hall project includes Jon Ross, Principal in Charge; Sandy Howe, Principal for Design; Annie Newman, Programmer and Master Planner, and Susan Hoadley, Project

Manager and Designer. “Our first step in the planning process was to sit down with Ashley Hall’s Long Range Planning Committee,” said Jon Ross, “and discuss everyone’s expectations and concerns as we started the planning effort. This allowed us to identify many key issues and from there develop a critical needs agenda. We then created a series of “Design Lanterns” (see page 19) – a group of guiding principles against which we would test our proposals and recommendations throughout the planning process. Ashley Hall has many distinct traits that must influence any planning process including its historic location and structures, traditions and singlesex focus. All of this must be captured for consideration. The master planning process needed to address two important objectives. The first was how to deal with the short-term growth issues caused by the expansion of the Lower School and projected enrollment numbers. The second was to deal with the long-range goals for where the School wants to be in the future. “An important consideration in dealing with the first objective was to find a solution that didn’t incur new debt,” said Ross. “An early step was to document the existing spaces, examine where they are, what they are, and how they are currently utilized. At the same time, we identified additional space needs. This exercise included meeting with various constituency groups on campus (faculty, staff, administration, students, etc.) in order to capture the needs identified by the actual “user groups”. Chief among Ashley Hall’s critical needs are library space, additional classrooms, enhanced science labs, performing and visual arts facilities, wellness and competitive athletics facilities, expanded dining and food preparation spaces, and faculty office space. The approved Master Plan meets these needs through a combination of new building and renovation programs to be implemented in several phases. SBRA also discovered that the School’s practice of assigning class-

“Ashley Hall sits on a landlocked campus in the middle of an historic city so expansion is a challenging and complicated process. The first priority must be to make the best use of the space the school has,” said Ross. rooms to individual teachers results in a situation where the classrooms are underutilized by about 30%. Because teachers maintain their offices within their classrooms, the use of these spaces during non-class periods is curtailed. This frequently results in an empty classroom while teachers are doing necessary administrative tasks like grading, conferences, lesson planning, etc. during their free periods. The proposed solution, said Ross, is to create faculty suites for every department. “By decoupling the classroom and office functions you immediately make all classrooms available every period of the day, while at the same time, teachers have a permanent place to conduct vital non-teaching tasks and to house their personal workspace and records,” said Ross. “As a bonus, the faculty suite alignment facilitates just the kind of professional collaboration that is required for the interdisciplinary curricula that Ashley Hall is implementing.” The re-purposing and renovation of existing space to maximize utilization is depicted in Phase I of the new Campus Master Plan, with faculty suites being established in Lane and Jenkins Hall and the shifting of some grade levels to new locations: K – 4, Pardue Hall; 5-6, Lane Hall; and 7-12, Jenkins Hall. These changes will take place in 2007. The second major objective, to create a long-range campus master plan to

17

18

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

meet all of the curricular and physical needs of Ashley Hall for the foreseeable future, presented a different kind of challenge. “Ashley Hall sits on a landlocked campus in the middle of an historic city so expansion is a challenging and complicated process. The first priority must be to make the best use of the space the school has,” said Ross. SBRA presented several options for addressing the programming and planning issues that had been identified. The options were reviewed by the Long Range Planning Committee and a preferred scheme was selected and refined. Along the way, SBRA and School representatives met with city planning officials and the final draft plan was enthusiastically endorsed by the city. “Ashley Hall is a valued community resource. City officials understand that the School must evolve to meet its mission. At the same time, they appreciated Ashley Hall’s efforts to engage them in the planning process and to accommodate their historic and aesthetic values in our plans. We let the city know what we were thinking at each stage, asked for feedback and adjusted accordingly. This avoided surprises or unseen concerns and, in the end, we have a Master Plan that makes everyone happy,” said Ross. SBRA prepared cost estimates for the individual projects identified in the final Campus Master Plan and then presented the final draft of the Campus Master Plan to the full Board in September where it was unanimously approved. “From a planner’s perspective, the process with Ashley Hall went very smoothly,” said Ross. “We know from experience that the train can come off the tracks at any point in this type of exercise, and I must credit the open communication and hands-on approach by Jill Muti, her staff, and the Long Range Planning Committee for the success of this nine month planning effort.”


S HEPLEY

Master Planning Team: B ULFINCH R ICHARDSON & A BBOTT

Master Planning Team: Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott

(l-r) Ann Newman, Jon Ross, Susan Hoadley and Sandy Howe

S

hepley Bulfinch Richardson &

Abbott (SBRA) is a national design practice serving the education, healthcare, science, corporate and public markets with architecture,

S

planning and interior design services. Established in 1874 by the American architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, SBRA is one of the oldest continuously - practicing architectural firms in the nation and the oldest in Boston. SBRA employs a staff of 180 professionals and serves clients worldwide from its Boston headquarters.

SBRA has been recognized with awards from leading client and design organizations for over a century, and has been widely published in trade and consumer media throughout the world. In the past decade alone, SBRA has received more than fifty design awards for libraries and academic buildings; healthcare and science facilities; civic and cultural buildings; interior design and detailing; and preservation projects. The firm also has been widely acclaimed for its collaborative approach to projects and successful partnerships with clients and affiliated organizations. In 1997, SBRA was named one of America's best-managed firms in a survey by Architectural Record magazine. Recent education clients include Agnes Scott College (all women), Dana Hall School (all girls), Emma Willard (all girls), Concord Academy, Yale University, Duke University, Emory University, Elon University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, The Lovett School, and Phillips Academy. The SBRA team for the Ashley Hall project includes Jon Ross, Principal in Charge; Sandy Howe, Principal for Design; Annie Newman, Programmer and Master Planner, and Susan Hoadley, Project

Manager and Designer. “Our first step in the planning process was to sit down with Ashley Hall’s Long Range Planning Committee,” said Jon Ross, “and discuss everyone’s expectations and concerns as we started the planning effort. This allowed us to identify many key issues and from there develop a critical needs agenda. We then created a series of “Design Lanterns” (see page 19) – a group of guiding principles against which we would test our proposals and recommendations throughout the planning process. Ashley Hall has many distinct traits that must influence any planning process including its historic location and structures, traditions and singlesex focus. All of this must be captured for consideration. The master planning process needed to address two important objectives. The first was how to deal with the short-term growth issues caused by the expansion of the Lower School and projected enrollment numbers. The second was to deal with the long-range goals for where the School wants to be in the future. “An important consideration in dealing with the first objective was to find a solution that didn’t incur new debt,” said Ross. “An early step was to document the existing spaces, examine where they are, what they are, and how they are currently utilized. At the same time, we identified additional space needs. This exercise included meeting with various constituency groups on campus (faculty, staff, administration, students, etc.) in order to capture the needs identified by the actual “user groups”. Chief among Ashley Hall’s critical needs are library space, additional classrooms, enhanced science labs, performing and visual arts facilities, wellness and competitive athletics facilities, expanded dining and food preparation spaces, and faculty office space. The approved Master Plan meets these needs through a combination of new building and renovation programs to be implemented in several phases. SBRA also discovered that the School’s practice of assigning class-

“Ashley Hall sits on a landlocked campus in the middle of an historic city so expansion is a challenging and complicated process. The first priority must be to make the best use of the space the school has,” said Ross. rooms to individual teachers results in a situation where the classrooms are underutilized by about 30%. Because teachers maintain their offices within their classrooms, the use of these spaces during non-class periods is curtailed. This frequently results in an empty classroom while teachers are doing necessary administrative tasks like grading, conferences, lesson planning, etc. during their free periods. The proposed solution, said Ross, is to create faculty suites for every department. “By decoupling the classroom and office functions you immediately make all classrooms available every period of the day, while at the same time, teachers have a permanent place to conduct vital non-teaching tasks and to house their personal workspace and records,” said Ross. “As a bonus, the faculty suite alignment facilitates just the kind of professional collaboration that is required for the interdisciplinary curricula that Ashley Hall is implementing.” The re-purposing and renovation of existing space to maximize utilization is depicted in Phase I of the new Campus Master Plan, with faculty suites being established in Lane and Jenkins Hall and the shifting of some grade levels to new locations: K – 4, Pardue Hall; 5-6, Lane Hall; and 7-12, Jenkins Hall. These changes will take place in 2007. The second major objective, to create a long-range campus master plan to

17

18

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

meet all of the curricular and physical needs of Ashley Hall for the foreseeable future, presented a different kind of challenge. “Ashley Hall sits on a landlocked campus in the middle of an historic city so expansion is a challenging and complicated process. The first priority must be to make the best use of the space the school has,” said Ross. SBRA presented several options for addressing the programming and planning issues that had been identified. The options were reviewed by the Long Range Planning Committee and a preferred scheme was selected and refined. Along the way, SBRA and School representatives met with city planning officials and the final draft plan was enthusiastically endorsed by the city. “Ashley Hall is a valued community resource. City officials understand that the School must evolve to meet its mission. At the same time, they appreciated Ashley Hall’s efforts to engage them in the planning process and to accommodate their historic and aesthetic values in our plans. We let the city know what we were thinking at each stage, asked for feedback and adjusted accordingly. This avoided surprises or unseen concerns and, in the end, we have a Master Plan that makes everyone happy,” said Ross. SBRA prepared cost estimates for the individual projects identified in the final Campus Master Plan and then presented the final draft of the Campus Master Plan to the full Board in September where it was unanimously approved. “From a planner’s perspective, the process with Ashley Hall went very smoothly,” said Ross. “We know from experience that the train can come off the tracks at any point in this type of exercise, and I must credit the open communication and hands-on approach by Jill Muti, her staff, and the Long Range Planning Committee for the success of this nine month planning effort.”




THE MASTER PLAN





Design



LANTERNS

 

Recognize and honor the rich architectural heritage of sacred spaces and the role that they play in the institutional history of Ashley Hall, as well as the place that they hold in the architectural history of Charleston. Recognize available green space and heritage landscape spaces as essential components of the natural beauty of the Ashley Hall campus.



Repurpose existing space for better utilization for existing and envisioned programs.



Respond to goals of a classical and global educational mission for the School’s core curriculum.



Incorporate the unique requirements for providing an appropriate setting for a contemporary allfemale education.

THE MASTER PLAN



Create dedicated gathering space(s) that unify the community and provide flexible collaborative study opportunities. A. Envision central and local resource center(s) for the transparent and accessible delivery of Information Technology resources. B. Improve Library spaces to realize goals of collaborative learning, teaching, and reading.

 

Improve Laboratory facilities for the Intermediate and Upper Schools to advance an integrated teaching approach for the separate disciplines. Provide an appropriate venue for the integration of Fine and Performing Arts into campus-wide curriculum, as well as improved performance spaces as a “front door” to the Charleston community.



Integrate improved competitive Athletic facilities to accommodate Health and Wellness programs.



Enhance Dining to facilitate community gathering and provide integrated educational opportunities.

19

20

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES




THE MASTER PLAN





Design



LANTERNS

 

Recognize and honor the rich architectural heritage of sacred spaces and the role that they play in the institutional history of Ashley Hall, as well as the place that they hold in the architectural history of Charleston. Recognize available green space and heritage landscape spaces as essential components of the natural beauty of the Ashley Hall campus.



Repurpose existing space for better utilization for existing and envisioned programs.



Respond to goals of a classical and global educational mission for the School’s core curriculum.



Incorporate the unique requirements for providing an appropriate setting for a contemporary allfemale education.

THE MASTER PLAN



Create dedicated gathering space(s) that unify the community and provide flexible collaborative study opportunities. A. Envision central and local resource center(s) for the transparent and accessible delivery of Information Technology resources. B. Improve Library spaces to realize goals of collaborative learning, teaching, and reading.

 

Improve Laboratory facilities for the Intermediate and Upper Schools to advance an integrated teaching approach for the separate disciplines. Provide an appropriate venue for the integration of Fine and Performing Arts into campus-wide curriculum, as well as improved performance spaces as a “front door” to the Charleston community.



Integrate improved competitive Athletic facilities to accommodate Health and Wellness programs.



Enhance Dining to facilitate community gathering and provide integrated educational opportunities.

19

20

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES


P HASE O NE

 THE MASTER PLAN

21

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 1 (2007) features the redistribution of student grades between Jenkins, Lane and Pardue Halls and the creation of faculty suites to maximize classroom space utilization.

P HASE T WO

 THE MASTER PLAN

22

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 2 includes renovation and new construction to the Pierce Dining facility to expand seating, food preparation, and food service; the construction of a new three-story Media Commons (new library, writing carrels, science labs) at the east end of Jenkins Hall; and the renovation of existing science labs in Jenkins Hall.


P HASE O NE

 THE MASTER PLAN

21

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 1 (2007) features the redistribution of student grades between Jenkins, Lane and Pardue Halls and the creation of faculty suites to maximize classroom space utilization.

P HASE T WO

 THE MASTER PLAN

22

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 2 includes renovation and new construction to the Pierce Dining facility to expand seating, food preparation, and food service; the construction of a new three-story Media Commons (new library, writing carrels, science labs) at the east end of Jenkins Hall; and the renovation of existing science labs in Jenkins Hall.


P HASE T HREE

 THE MASTER PLAN

23

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES



Phase 3 is the renovation of both floors of Lane Hall as an intermediate school for grades 4 – 6 and for faculty offices.

P HASE F OUR

 THE MASTER PLAN

24

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 4 includes construction of a new multi-story Arts Center, a new EEC, new Athletics and Wellness facilities, renovation of Ingram Hall and the old EEC to office space, and conversion of Davies Auditorium to classrooms.


P HASE T HREE

 THE MASTER PLAN

23

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES



Phase 3 is the renovation of both floors of Lane Hall as an intermediate school for grades 4 – 6 and for faculty offices.

P HASE F OUR

 THE MASTER PLAN

24

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

 Phase 4 includes construction of a new multi-story Arts Center, a new EEC, new Athletics and Wellness facilities, renovation of Ingram Hall and the old EEC to office space, and conversion of Davies Auditorium to classrooms.




THE MASTER PLAN





A Community of Purpose A

campus master plan begins with ideas that move from intellectual concepts to visual construct. The movement from idea to architectural rendering, and eventually reality, are dangerous steps in any planning process because images are seductive and it’s easy to overlook the idea behind the image. Nearly eighty percent of our brain’s sensory processing ability is devoted to sight, so our affinity for a pretty picture makes perfect sense. It’s

all too human to be swept up by an exciting image and to neglect its underlying rationale. A campus, and its plan, is like a painting, sculpture, poem, or an equation: an homage to the ideas and ideals that gave it birth. To fully appreciate the visual you must understand its seminal idea. A Community of Purpose thoroughly explores the ideas, the reason, indeed the mission behind our beautiful new Master Plan and Ashley Hall itself.

Almighty God, we beseech Thee with gracious favor to behold our school, that knowledge may be increased among us and all good learning flourish and abound. Bless all who teach and all who learn and grant that, in humility of heart, we may ever look unto Thee who art the foundation of all wisdom. Thomas-à Kempis

O

n the evening of October 27, 1786, while sojourning in Terni, Italy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German author and polymath, recorded in his journal a visit he had made that day to the Umbrian town of Spoleto. “I walked up to Spoleto,” he wrote

and stood on the aqueduct, which also serves as a bridge from one hill to the other. The ten brickwork arches which span the valley have been quietly standing there through all the centuries, and the water still gushes in all quarters of Spoleto. This is the third work of antiquity which I have seen, and it embodies the same noble spirit. A sense of the civic good, which is the basis of their architecture, was second nature to the ancients. Hence the amphitheatre, the temple, the aqueduct. For the first time I understand why I always detested arbitrary constructions…. Such things are still-born, for anything that does not have a true raison d’être is lifeless and cannot be great or ever become so. (Translated from the German by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer) This episode in Goethe’s extensive travels throughout Italy is today commemorated with a plaque positioned on the Spoleto side of the aqueduct to which he refers above, and because both Charleston and Ashley Hall enjoy a special relationship with the commune of Spoleto, it is appropriate to begin this exploration of Ashley Hall’s future there, where one of the great minds of the European Enlightenment first realized the root cause of his distaste for everything capricious – to borrow from the Italian rendering of Goethe’s text, le construzioni fatte a capriccio. This issue of Perspectives features the unveiling the Master Plan for Ashley Hall’s future. That plan can only succeed, can only come alive if, as Goethe realized, it has “a true raison d’être,” or, as the original German has it, eine wahre innere Existenz, a true, inner existence. And just as Goethe recognized in the architecture of antiquity “a sense of the civic good,” so we at Ashley Hall demand of ourselves a like awareness. Our plans for the future are governed from within by a sense of the essential good of the students who are given into our charge and to the communities – local, regional, national, and global – into which they will enter as responsible adults. In order to achieve that good, we must articulate a clear and coherent pedagogical philosophy, for it is that philosophy that will provide the inner truth informing our plans for the future.

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Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES




THE MASTER PLAN





A Community of Purpose A

campus master plan begins with ideas that move from intellectual concepts to visual construct. The movement from idea to architectural rendering, and eventually reality, are dangerous steps in any planning process because images are seductive and it’s easy to overlook the idea behind the image. Nearly eighty percent of our brain’s sensory processing ability is devoted to sight, so our affinity for a pretty picture makes perfect sense. It’s

all too human to be swept up by an exciting image and to neglect its underlying rationale. A campus, and its plan, is like a painting, sculpture, poem, or an equation: an homage to the ideas and ideals that gave it birth. To fully appreciate the visual you must understand its seminal idea. A Community of Purpose thoroughly explores the ideas, the reason, indeed the mission behind our beautiful new Master Plan and Ashley Hall itself.

Almighty God, we beseech Thee with gracious favor to behold our school, that knowledge may be increased among us and all good learning flourish and abound. Bless all who teach and all who learn and grant that, in humility of heart, we may ever look unto Thee who art the foundation of all wisdom. Thomas-à Kempis

O

n the evening of October 27, 1786, while sojourning in Terni, Italy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German author and polymath, recorded in his journal a visit he had made that day to the Umbrian town of Spoleto. “I walked up to Spoleto,” he wrote

and stood on the aqueduct, which also serves as a bridge from one hill to the other. The ten brickwork arches which span the valley have been quietly standing there through all the centuries, and the water still gushes in all quarters of Spoleto. This is the third work of antiquity which I have seen, and it embodies the same noble spirit. A sense of the civic good, which is the basis of their architecture, was second nature to the ancients. Hence the amphitheatre, the temple, the aqueduct. For the first time I understand why I always detested arbitrary constructions…. Such things are still-born, for anything that does not have a true raison d’être is lifeless and cannot be great or ever become so. (Translated from the German by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer) This episode in Goethe’s extensive travels throughout Italy is today commemorated with a plaque positioned on the Spoleto side of the aqueduct to which he refers above, and because both Charleston and Ashley Hall enjoy a special relationship with the commune of Spoleto, it is appropriate to begin this exploration of Ashley Hall’s future there, where one of the great minds of the European Enlightenment first realized the root cause of his distaste for everything capricious – to borrow from the Italian rendering of Goethe’s text, le construzioni fatte a capriccio. This issue of Perspectives features the unveiling the Master Plan for Ashley Hall’s future. That plan can only succeed, can only come alive if, as Goethe realized, it has “a true raison d’être,” or, as the original German has it, eine wahre innere Existenz, a true, inner existence. And just as Goethe recognized in the architecture of antiquity “a sense of the civic good,” so we at Ashley Hall demand of ourselves a like awareness. Our plans for the future are governed from within by a sense of the essential good of the students who are given into our charge and to the communities – local, regional, national, and global – into which they will enter as responsible adults. In order to achieve that good, we must articulate a clear and coherent pedagogical philosophy, for it is that philosophy that will provide the inner truth informing our plans for the future.

25

26

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES


THE MASTER PLAN





M ASTER P LAN

A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN



Respecting Roots

I

n antiquity, a pedagogue was a servant who led his master’s child to the place of instruction in whatever art or activity was scheduled for that day. The servant, acting as an informal tutor, would also rehearse with the child his lessons. Eventually, the pedagogue became the actual instructor and the original sense of the term took on a more incisive sense; now the guide drew forth from the child the knowledge he had committed to memory realizing the twin sense of “leading towards” and “drawing forth.” In this latter sense, pedagogy is closely related to the word education itself. For “education” derives from the Latin e + ducere: “to lead or draw forth.” An educator, therefore, is like the pedagogue, but in a more intimate sense, one who leads or draws forth the student. The implication in both instances is that there exists within the student an inner realm of understanding that must be elicited, solicited, called or summoned forth into the world. When understood in this way, Socrates’ famous claim that he taught his disciples nothing, but served simply as a midwife in helping the students to deliver of themselves the knowledge and understanding they possessed within their souls, makes good sense. It is not the educator’s job to “give” the student anything. Rather, it is her or his calling to draw forth into this world the inner being of the individual student. We do not, as students, “get” an education; we experience a transformation of our sequestered interior existences into outward and open manifestations of defined persons. Education is the process whereby this miraculous transformation occurs and the radiant soul of the individual intellect emerges. The methodology these premises imply is what has been known for centuries as the Socratic Method. Students and teachers engage in a dialectical

relationship with the subject matter and with one another. They seek by means of incessant interrogation an inner understanding of themselves and of the world around them. They set forth together to achieve a clearer sense of what is real, however distant it may be from our human reach. Ashley Hall’s classes, in our envisioned campus, will enable students and faculty alike to initiate just such ventures. Our internship programs, our community outreach programs, our growing network of relationships with the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina, as well as our work with the University of Virginia and the Citadel (through our Summer Science Research Institute) and other such programs currently in development – all of these help to make the Ashley Hall experience preparation for a life devoted to constant intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth. Of course, such a procedure depends on the student’s readiness to come forth. That readiness is implied by the root sense of “student” – deriving from the Latin studeo: to be eager for, zealous. The experience we call education demands a reciprocal rela-

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Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

tionship between the one who leads and the one who follows not only willingly but eagerly – a point expressed most succinctly in our school motto: Possunt Quae Volunt (Girls who have the will have the ability). And when such a congruence of intention and volition occurs, the desired transformation comes attended by joy. In short, what we seek to provide is an environment conducive to the nurturing of that eager desire for knowledge and understanding on the part of the student and a complementary eagerness on the part of the educator to lead or draw that student’s inner awareness out into the world of activity and accomplishment. This fundamental purpose feeds all our other directives. Our facilities as well as our faculties must originate from that common cause. Buildings must be instrumental as well as ornamental, must serve to foster the student’s zeal and the educator’s high calling. Both curricula and classrooms must promise earnest endeavor, must make possible sustained enthusiasm for the work at hand, and must keep constantly in view the goal of individual awakenings.


THE MASTER PLAN





M ASTER P LAN

A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN



Respecting Roots

I

n antiquity, a pedagogue was a servant who led his master’s child to the place of instruction in whatever art or activity was scheduled for that day. The servant, acting as an informal tutor, would also rehearse with the child his lessons. Eventually, the pedagogue became the actual instructor and the original sense of the term took on a more incisive sense; now the guide drew forth from the child the knowledge he had committed to memory realizing the twin sense of “leading towards” and “drawing forth.” In this latter sense, pedagogy is closely related to the word education itself. For “education” derives from the Latin e + ducere: “to lead or draw forth.” An educator, therefore, is like the pedagogue, but in a more intimate sense, one who leads or draws forth the student. The implication in both instances is that there exists within the student an inner realm of understanding that must be elicited, solicited, called or summoned forth into the world. When understood in this way, Socrates’ famous claim that he taught his disciples nothing, but served simply as a midwife in helping the students to deliver of themselves the knowledge and understanding they possessed within their souls, makes good sense. It is not the educator’s job to “give” the student anything. Rather, it is her or his calling to draw forth into this world the inner being of the individual student. We do not, as students, “get” an education; we experience a transformation of our sequestered interior existences into outward and open manifestations of defined persons. Education is the process whereby this miraculous transformation occurs and the radiant soul of the individual intellect emerges. The methodology these premises imply is what has been known for centuries as the Socratic Method. Students and teachers engage in a dialectical

relationship with the subject matter and with one another. They seek by means of incessant interrogation an inner understanding of themselves and of the world around them. They set forth together to achieve a clearer sense of what is real, however distant it may be from our human reach. Ashley Hall’s classes, in our envisioned campus, will enable students and faculty alike to initiate just such ventures. Our internship programs, our community outreach programs, our growing network of relationships with the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina, as well as our work with the University of Virginia and the Citadel (through our Summer Science Research Institute) and other such programs currently in development – all of these help to make the Ashley Hall experience preparation for a life devoted to constant intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth. Of course, such a procedure depends on the student’s readiness to come forth. That readiness is implied by the root sense of “student” – deriving from the Latin studeo: to be eager for, zealous. The experience we call education demands a reciprocal rela-

27

28

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

tionship between the one who leads and the one who follows not only willingly but eagerly – a point expressed most succinctly in our school motto: Possunt Quae Volunt (Girls who have the will have the ability). And when such a congruence of intention and volition occurs, the desired transformation comes attended by joy. In short, what we seek to provide is an environment conducive to the nurturing of that eager desire for knowledge and understanding on the part of the student and a complementary eagerness on the part of the educator to lead or draw that student’s inner awareness out into the world of activity and accomplishment. This fundamental purpose feeds all our other directives. Our facilities as well as our faculties must originate from that common cause. Buildings must be instrumental as well as ornamental, must serve to foster the student’s zeal and the educator’s high calling. Both curricula and classrooms must promise earnest endeavor, must make possible sustained enthusiasm for the work at hand, and must keep constantly in view the goal of individual awakenings.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





Where Worlds Collide

E

ighteenth-century German poet, Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg), proposed, in the form of an aphorism, an interesting notion. He suggested that “The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet,” adding, “Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. It is perhaps no longer fashionable – or even acceptable – to speak of the “soul” in the context of a secular education, but it is difficult to think of another term more appropriate to refer to that sense of an inner self which we all seem to claim – as when we insist that “it’s what’s inside that counts” or when we advise one another not to judge a book by it’s cover. And we should have few reservations about adapting the term to our present purposes, for when we speak of this drawing forth of the student’s inner awareness, we mean simply this: each individual child matures outward toward the world, and when that child is capable of meeting the world comfortably and confidently, we quite rightly acknowledge in that confidence and poise the signs of maturity resulting from a long period of education. At the same time, those behavioral signs of maturity, remind us that the end of education – its final cause (distinct from specific training in a professional discipline) – is the fully realized person capable of acting wisely and compassionately in a world that can be bewilderingly vague with respect to moral conduct. Thus, Samuel Johnson, in his life of John Milton, argued, “…the truth is, that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires of includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind.” He continues: Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or

pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong…. Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellences, of all times and all places; we are properly moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary, and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emergence, that one man may know another half his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostaticks or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character immediately appears. One might immediately and somewhat justifiably contend that Johnson underestimates the value – social, economic, humane – of the applied sciences. Indeed, recently tabulated survey results published in the September 2006 Journal of the National Science Teachers Association indicate that 40% of polled adults believe that math, science, and technology skills are those which high school students need most to master if we are “to compete in the global economy.” And yet, do we really regard our children as primarily competitors in a ruthless international marketplace? Or do we hope above all that they will grow into morally responsible and intellectually astute individuals capable of making sound and prudent judgments not only in

their vocations but also, and perhaps even more importantly, in their private lives? To paraphrase Johnson, if we have the pressures of global economics against us, we have Socrates on our side. “It was his labour,” Johnson reminds us, “to turn philosophy from the study of nature to speculations upon life….” And whereas scientific training directs the student’s attention, quite properly, to the study of natural phenomena and the material basis of those phenomena, “Socrates was rather of opinion, that what we had to learn was, how to do good, and avoid evil.” It would be mistaken to suppose that any contemporary academic curriculum could relegate scientific, mathematical, and technological studies to a peripheral role in a student’s course of study. But it must be acknowledged that such studies, divorced from moral and ethical considerations, distort the individual’s understanding and stunt the growth of a vigorous conscience – i.e., the ability to discern and discriminate between right and wrong conduct, and the will to act accordingly. Therefore, at Ashley Hall, we have already begun to integrate the study of moral philosophy into our ninth and tenth grade Humanities sequence. In time, we will extend this study into other courses, intending to reinforce in the students’ understanding the real-

ization that matters of conscience are not separable from matters of more practical interest or application. It is not enough to be a technically skilled scientist; one must also be a caring and compassionate person, capable of judging whether one’s contribution to the world on the purely pragmatic level is also a contribution to the real and lasting well-being of others. It is for this reason that the arts must occupy a prominent, if not a central, position in every student’s academic career. For the arts, because they draw upon the individual’s imaginative powers – and thereby cultivate them – stimulate our capacity to feel, both physically and emotionally, and our capacity to feel for others. The disciplines of all the arts make us more sympathetic human beings by deepening our affective understanding. When we dance or sing, when we compose a piece of music or a poem, when we sketch or sculpt, we are exerting ourselves outward away from the potentially solipsistic self-consciousness that freezes the heart and toward direct physical contact with the world beyond us. We are feeling what it is to move our bodies in ways we would not otherwise move, we are exploring the experiences of others in our fictions and in our adopting of other personae, we are exerting the intellect not so much to know as to feel. Our humanity is a function of and in direct proportion to our capacity to comprehend the sufferings of others. An Arts Center, such as we envision for Ashley Hall, provides for the entire community a locus for this exercise in compassionate understanding. The performers and the audience alike share in the experience of self-forgetting in order to remember and reflect upon the various

THE MASTER PLAN



joys and sufferings of others. The great humanist ideal expressed by the Latin playwright Terence, homo sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto (“I am a human being; nothing pertaining to humans is foreign to me.”) finds its fullest and most immediate realization in the practice and appreciation of the arts, just as our most profound understanding of the material, non-human world is vouchsafed us by the disciplines of the sciences and mathematics. Meanwhile, other programs, such Ashley Hall’s Junior/Senior Internships, opportunities afforded our students to travel, study, and work abroad, our access to the Schooner “The Spirit of South Carolina” and the leadership training it

29

30

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

allows our older students, acquaint our young women with the demands of the real and complex world in which they will play, as adults, their vital part. Which brings us back to Novalis’ suggestion that the seat or foundation upon which the soul rests is the overlapping of the inner world of the individual and the outer world in which and upon which that individual acts. Education therefore must not confine its scope to the offering of a set of prescribed “courses,” but should originate out of a fundamental awareness of the ethical implications of all our activities. When we write an essay or tackle a geometrical proof or undertake to learn another people’s language, we enter the domain of ethical conduct.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





Where Worlds Collide

E

ighteenth-century German poet, Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg), proposed, in the form of an aphorism, an interesting notion. He suggested that “The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet,” adding, “Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. It is perhaps no longer fashionable – or even acceptable – to speak of the “soul” in the context of a secular education, but it is difficult to think of another term more appropriate to refer to that sense of an inner self which we all seem to claim – as when we insist that “it’s what’s inside that counts” or when we advise one another not to judge a book by it’s cover. And we should have few reservations about adapting the term to our present purposes, for when we speak of this drawing forth of the student’s inner awareness, we mean simply this: each individual child matures outward toward the world, and when that child is capable of meeting the world comfortably and confidently, we quite rightly acknowledge in that confidence and poise the signs of maturity resulting from a long period of education. At the same time, those behavioral signs of maturity, remind us that the end of education – its final cause (distinct from specific training in a professional discipline) – is the fully realized person capable of acting wisely and compassionately in a world that can be bewilderingly vague with respect to moral conduct. Thus, Samuel Johnson, in his life of John Milton, argued, “…the truth is, that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires of includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind.” He continues: Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or

pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong…. Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellences, of all times and all places; we are properly moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary, and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emergence, that one man may know another half his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostaticks or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character immediately appears. One might immediately and somewhat justifiably contend that Johnson underestimates the value – social, economic, humane – of the applied sciences. Indeed, recently tabulated survey results published in the September 2006 Journal of the National Science Teachers Association indicate that 40% of polled adults believe that math, science, and technology skills are those which high school students need most to master if we are “to compete in the global economy.” And yet, do we really regard our children as primarily competitors in a ruthless international marketplace? Or do we hope above all that they will grow into morally responsible and intellectually astute individuals capable of making sound and prudent judgments not only in

their vocations but also, and perhaps even more importantly, in their private lives? To paraphrase Johnson, if we have the pressures of global economics against us, we have Socrates on our side. “It was his labour,” Johnson reminds us, “to turn philosophy from the study of nature to speculations upon life….” And whereas scientific training directs the student’s attention, quite properly, to the study of natural phenomena and the material basis of those phenomena, “Socrates was rather of opinion, that what we had to learn was, how to do good, and avoid evil.” It would be mistaken to suppose that any contemporary academic curriculum could relegate scientific, mathematical, and technological studies to a peripheral role in a student’s course of study. But it must be acknowledged that such studies, divorced from moral and ethical considerations, distort the individual’s understanding and stunt the growth of a vigorous conscience – i.e., the ability to discern and discriminate between right and wrong conduct, and the will to act accordingly. Therefore, at Ashley Hall, we have already begun to integrate the study of moral philosophy into our ninth and tenth grade Humanities sequence. In time, we will extend this study into other courses, intending to reinforce in the students’ understanding the real-

ization that matters of conscience are not separable from matters of more practical interest or application. It is not enough to be a technically skilled scientist; one must also be a caring and compassionate person, capable of judging whether one’s contribution to the world on the purely pragmatic level is also a contribution to the real and lasting well-being of others. It is for this reason that the arts must occupy a prominent, if not a central, position in every student’s academic career. For the arts, because they draw upon the individual’s imaginative powers – and thereby cultivate them – stimulate our capacity to feel, both physically and emotionally, and our capacity to feel for others. The disciplines of all the arts make us more sympathetic human beings by deepening our affective understanding. When we dance or sing, when we compose a piece of music or a poem, when we sketch or sculpt, we are exerting ourselves outward away from the potentially solipsistic self-consciousness that freezes the heart and toward direct physical contact with the world beyond us. We are feeling what it is to move our bodies in ways we would not otherwise move, we are exploring the experiences of others in our fictions and in our adopting of other personae, we are exerting the intellect not so much to know as to feel. Our humanity is a function of and in direct proportion to our capacity to comprehend the sufferings of others. An Arts Center, such as we envision for Ashley Hall, provides for the entire community a locus for this exercise in compassionate understanding. The performers and the audience alike share in the experience of self-forgetting in order to remember and reflect upon the various

THE MASTER PLAN



joys and sufferings of others. The great humanist ideal expressed by the Latin playwright Terence, homo sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto (“I am a human being; nothing pertaining to humans is foreign to me.”) finds its fullest and most immediate realization in the practice and appreciation of the arts, just as our most profound understanding of the material, non-human world is vouchsafed us by the disciplines of the sciences and mathematics. Meanwhile, other programs, such Ashley Hall’s Junior/Senior Internships, opportunities afforded our students to travel, study, and work abroad, our access to the Schooner “The Spirit of South Carolina” and the leadership training it

29

30

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

allows our older students, acquaint our young women with the demands of the real and complex world in which they will play, as adults, their vital part. Which brings us back to Novalis’ suggestion that the seat or foundation upon which the soul rests is the overlapping of the inner world of the individual and the outer world in which and upon which that individual acts. Education therefore must not confine its scope to the offering of a set of prescribed “courses,” but should originate out of a fundamental awareness of the ethical implications of all our activities. When we write an essay or tackle a geometrical proof or undertake to learn another people’s language, we enter the domain of ethical conduct.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





The Vale of Soul-Making

Upper School designations, it is nonetheless vital that we learn to see that these divisions are terms of convenience and not taxonomic verities. Rather, we must measure our curricula to the cyclic development of our students. Thus we have grouped these developmental cycles as follows:

I

n one of the most famous of his astonishing letters to his brother and sister, George and Georgiana Keats, John Keats offered the following conjecture:

The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven – What a little circumscribed straightened notion! Call the world if you please “The vale of Soul-making” Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought that has struck me concerning it) I say ‘Soul making’ Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence – There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions – but they are not souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. … How then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them – so as to possess a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this?.... I will call the world a school instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read – I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that School – and I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. (21 April 1819) The whole of this remarkable letter, written when Keats was only twenty-three years old, merits the closest attention, not least because it formulates a pedagogical principle of exceptional tenderness with respect to the individual child. Keats would have us understand that we are not born into this world to suffer – the proverbial ‘vale of tears’ which he summarily dismisses – but to nurture and cultivate the germ of a soul we bring

Cycle I: Cycle II: Cycle III: Cycle IVa: Cycle IVb:

Pre-Primary through pre-Kindergarten Kindergarten through third grade Fourth through sixth grade Seventh through ninth grade Tenth through twelfth grade

At present, these developmental cycles find their spatial correlatives in the Ross EEC and Pardue, Lane, and Jenkins Halls respectively. As our Master Plan transforms the physical contours of our campus, these boundaries will become increasingly permeable, allowing faculty and students alike to become more aware of the overall cohesiveness of the currently evolving curricula for all grades. Perhaps the most apt analogy for this programmatic initiative is that afforded by Oliver Wendell Holmes’ best known poem, “The Chambered Nautilus,” in which Holmes likens the growth of the nautilus’s elegant shell to that of the human spirit:

with us into the world, a world which is provided us for that very purpose. It matters little, really, whether we accept Keats’ vision as ‘true’. What we cannot help but acknowledge is that his vision is beautiful in its generosity and its desire to regard this world as a sort of spiritual and intellectual garden. And to the extent that, as Keats himself insisted elsewhere, Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. to that extent is his intuition adequately accurate. At any rate, we should have no qualms about viewing our curricula and

our pedagogical purposes in this light, for as we have seen, the purpose of education is indeed to draw forth the intelligence and the identity of each individual child. Recognizing as well that his is a deliberate and progressive procedure, we are determined to shape the environment of Ashley Hall accordingly. Thus we have redefined the traditional grade “levels,” which suggest easily measurable, hierarchic stages in the child’s development, as “cycles,” ever-expanding accretions of understanding, rather than the prescribed, incremental acquisition of information. While it would be extravagant (and a foolish affectation) to insist on doing away with the Lower, Middle, and

Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread this lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year’s dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. The exquisite involutions of the nautilus’s shell correspond to those of the individual student’s intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth, yielding not a segmented series but a continuous sequence, a unitary evolution of the self as it emerges with ever expansive clarity of form into the surrounding world which has welcomed and nourished it at every turning. Consistent with that image is our inten-

THE MASTER PLAN



tion to build a Media Commons to provide for all Ashley Hall students a single point of reference for specific learning activities, a sort of home base to which they can return to reinforce, reinvigorate, or re-launch their various explorations and adventures. At the same time, this learning center will provide faculty a place for concentrated instruction devised to address the specific needs of individual students and thereby enhance the collaborative practices of the classroom. Such practices must themselves be integrated into the overall fabric of Ashley Hall’s cyclic curricula. Teachers must have the means to communicate freely and easily about their work. Already we have strengthened our capabilities in this area, firstly by making the campus wireless and by providing faculty with laptop and tablet computers, and secondly, by creating departmental offices which position teachers in collegial proximity to one another and thereby allow for regular and sustained conversation regarding daily classroom and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, the posting of monthly curriculum maps on the Ashley Hall website will allow teachers to review what faculty in other departments or divisions are doing and adjust their plans accordingly. As an example, while students in tenth grade European History class discuss the revolutionary upheavals of the eighteenth century, the upper-level French classes can be reading the great philosophes of the French Enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Diderot, en français, or be discussing Benjamin Franklin’s esprit, thereby deepening their understanding of France’s political and cultural sympathies with our neonate republic. At the same time, students in science classes can be examining how the authors of the great Encyclopédie transformed, for better or worse, our western attitudes toward the physical world and our relationship to it (while noting, perhaps, the technological breakthrough of the Encyclopedia, parallel in force and function to contemporary hypertexts). Moreover, the continuities alluded to earlier will allow students and faculty to recollect previous encounters with these actors and events and demonstrate concretely how our understanding deepens with renewed acquaintance, eroding, and ultimately eliminating, the misconception that each new year and each new subject and each new hour is an

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Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

entirely novel and discrete event. Such deliberate coordination and integration, both horizontally between disciplines and vertically from cycle to cycle, will be rendered more feasible as we construct a more cohesive and integrated campus network of classrooms, laboratories, resource facilities, and administrative offices. Without neglecting architectural aesthetics, we must conceive of our physical surroundings as instrumental rather than ornamental. For a school is, both for students and for faculty, a sort of second home, an extension of the life one lives when not formally engaged with the work of learning, a deliberate configuration of space intended to encourage and contribute directly to that emergence of the self that we have previously defined as the end of education. Our facilities therefore must serve the curriculum and be guided by the instructional and educative aspirations of the faculty and the students. This is another way of saying “form follows function.”

One of the primary functions of any school campus is to accustom those who inhabit it to ideals of just proportion, and the fostering of gracious and fluent movements. Moreover, in the twenty-first century, we must conscientiously take into account the environment in which we live, shaping our campus in a way that will take advantage of building practices and materials that will reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and provide a model of responsible stewardship. These ethical concerns for the well-being of our environment are linked naturally and necessarily to programmatic concerns, most prominently in the disciplines of science and technology, but nonetheless importantly in the arts and in our constant attention to the health and safety of our students.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





The Vale of Soul-Making

Upper School designations, it is nonetheless vital that we learn to see that these divisions are terms of convenience and not taxonomic verities. Rather, we must measure our curricula to the cyclic development of our students. Thus we have grouped these developmental cycles as follows:

I

n one of the most famous of his astonishing letters to his brother and sister, George and Georgiana Keats, John Keats offered the following conjecture:

The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven – What a little circumscribed straightened notion! Call the world if you please “The vale of Soul-making” Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought that has struck me concerning it) I say ‘Soul making’ Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence – There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions – but they are not souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. … How then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them – so as to possess a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this?.... I will call the world a school instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read – I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that School – and I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. (21 April 1819) The whole of this remarkable letter, written when Keats was only twenty-three years old, merits the closest attention, not least because it formulates a pedagogical principle of exceptional tenderness with respect to the individual child. Keats would have us understand that we are not born into this world to suffer – the proverbial ‘vale of tears’ which he summarily dismisses – but to nurture and cultivate the germ of a soul we bring

Cycle I: Cycle II: Cycle III: Cycle IVa: Cycle IVb:

Pre-Primary through pre-Kindergarten Kindergarten through third grade Fourth through sixth grade Seventh through ninth grade Tenth through twelfth grade

At present, these developmental cycles find their spatial correlatives in the Ross EEC and Pardue, Lane, and Jenkins Halls respectively. As our Master Plan transforms the physical contours of our campus, these boundaries will become increasingly permeable, allowing faculty and students alike to become more aware of the overall cohesiveness of the currently evolving curricula for all grades. Perhaps the most apt analogy for this programmatic initiative is that afforded by Oliver Wendell Holmes’ best known poem, “The Chambered Nautilus,” in which Holmes likens the growth of the nautilus’s elegant shell to that of the human spirit:

with us into the world, a world which is provided us for that very purpose. It matters little, really, whether we accept Keats’ vision as ‘true’. What we cannot help but acknowledge is that his vision is beautiful in its generosity and its desire to regard this world as a sort of spiritual and intellectual garden. And to the extent that, as Keats himself insisted elsewhere, Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -- that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. to that extent is his intuition adequately accurate. At any rate, we should have no qualms about viewing our curricula and

our pedagogical purposes in this light, for as we have seen, the purpose of education is indeed to draw forth the intelligence and the identity of each individual child. Recognizing as well that his is a deliberate and progressive procedure, we are determined to shape the environment of Ashley Hall accordingly. Thus we have redefined the traditional grade “levels,” which suggest easily measurable, hierarchic stages in the child’s development, as “cycles,” ever-expanding accretions of understanding, rather than the prescribed, incremental acquisition of information. While it would be extravagant (and a foolish affectation) to insist on doing away with the Lower, Middle, and

Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread this lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year’s dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. The exquisite involutions of the nautilus’s shell correspond to those of the individual student’s intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth, yielding not a segmented series but a continuous sequence, a unitary evolution of the self as it emerges with ever expansive clarity of form into the surrounding world which has welcomed and nourished it at every turning. Consistent with that image is our inten-

THE MASTER PLAN



tion to build a Media Commons to provide for all Ashley Hall students a single point of reference for specific learning activities, a sort of home base to which they can return to reinforce, reinvigorate, or re-launch their various explorations and adventures. At the same time, this learning center will provide faculty a place for concentrated instruction devised to address the specific needs of individual students and thereby enhance the collaborative practices of the classroom. Such practices must themselves be integrated into the overall fabric of Ashley Hall’s cyclic curricula. Teachers must have the means to communicate freely and easily about their work. Already we have strengthened our capabilities in this area, firstly by making the campus wireless and by providing faculty with laptop and tablet computers, and secondly, by creating departmental offices which position teachers in collegial proximity to one another and thereby allow for regular and sustained conversation regarding daily classroom and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, the posting of monthly curriculum maps on the Ashley Hall website will allow teachers to review what faculty in other departments or divisions are doing and adjust their plans accordingly. As an example, while students in tenth grade European History class discuss the revolutionary upheavals of the eighteenth century, the upper-level French classes can be reading the great philosophes of the French Enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Diderot, en français, or be discussing Benjamin Franklin’s esprit, thereby deepening their understanding of France’s political and cultural sympathies with our neonate republic. At the same time, students in science classes can be examining how the authors of the great Encyclopédie transformed, for better or worse, our western attitudes toward the physical world and our relationship to it (while noting, perhaps, the technological breakthrough of the Encyclopedia, parallel in force and function to contemporary hypertexts). Moreover, the continuities alluded to earlier will allow students and faculty to recollect previous encounters with these actors and events and demonstrate concretely how our understanding deepens with renewed acquaintance, eroding, and ultimately eliminating, the misconception that each new year and each new subject and each new hour is an

31

32

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

entirely novel and discrete event. Such deliberate coordination and integration, both horizontally between disciplines and vertically from cycle to cycle, will be rendered more feasible as we construct a more cohesive and integrated campus network of classrooms, laboratories, resource facilities, and administrative offices. Without neglecting architectural aesthetics, we must conceive of our physical surroundings as instrumental rather than ornamental. For a school is, both for students and for faculty, a sort of second home, an extension of the life one lives when not formally engaged with the work of learning, a deliberate configuration of space intended to encourage and contribute directly to that emergence of the self that we have previously defined as the end of education. Our facilities therefore must serve the curriculum and be guided by the instructional and educative aspirations of the faculty and the students. This is another way of saying “form follows function.”

One of the primary functions of any school campus is to accustom those who inhabit it to ideals of just proportion, and the fostering of gracious and fluent movements. Moreover, in the twenty-first century, we must conscientiously take into account the environment in which we live, shaping our campus in a way that will take advantage of building practices and materials that will reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and provide a model of responsible stewardship. These ethical concerns for the well-being of our environment are linked naturally and necessarily to programmatic concerns, most prominently in the disciplines of science and technology, but nonetheless importantly in the arts and in our constant attention to the health and safety of our students.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





Mens Sana In Corpore Sano

THE MASTER PLAN



The Timely and the Timeless

A sound mind in a healthy body

O

O

ne of the oldest and most honored of pedagogical traditions consists in the belief that the overall development of the child must take into account the physical as well as the intellectual needs of the person. Indeed, the assumption persists, and rightly, that no one’s mental health can be regarded independently of one’s physical health. For this reason, schools have always maintained more or less rigorous programs of physical fitness together with regular monitoring of students’ emotional states. Physical Education departments provide organized activities designed to address the body’s needs for exercise and relaxation, while counseling services provide the assurance of confidential conversation and advice. Ashley Hall has long been a leader in these areas, particularly with respect to the specific needs of young women. We have only recently expanded our provisions by hiring a counselor for Pardue and Ross students to supplement the work of our counselors in Lane and Jenkins. The newly created Dean of Students oversees the social life of our students and works to coordinate programs intended to balance academic and co-curricular demands. We have initiated, as well, a complete

review and reassessment of our present daily schedule as a prelude to revising that schedule so as to shape the days in a more wholesome and less mechanical fashion. Students need interludes between classes, and they need time in which to complete work assigned and to assimilate new lessons. We need to attune our days to the realities of circadian rhythms and recognize the special needs of young people – including their need to get a good night’s sleep, for that, too, is a component of their physical fitness regime. Our schedule of competitive athletic events contributes to this concern as well. While we recognize that competition draws from students their best efforts, and while we have every hope of providing talented athletes appropri-

ate venues for their performances, we must also bear in mind the overall well-being of the individual. To achieve this balance, we will work to accommodate competitive events and academic demands in a balanced and beneficial manner. Hence, we have devised and implemented an Independent Learning Program for students who have demonstrated exceptional talent in athletics or indeed any pursuit, such as music or the other performing arts. Although we cannot hope to be – and have no desire to be – all things to all people, we can offer those especially talented students who have the requisite discipline a viable opportunity to experience an Ashley Hall education without compromising their passions.

ne of the greatest difficulties schools face is that of trying to maintain the highest of academic and personal standards in a culture that prizes novelty and constant innovation. We seem too often distracted from our primary purpose by the blandishments of entrepreneurs who promise a quick solution to the problems of education. Similarly, the clamor for relevance, for being up-to-date, for embracing the latest pedagogical fix, the most stylish prêt-a-porter curriculum require of us as educators a discriminating intelligence to discern the difference between the shrilling shill and the thoughtful professional. In the midst of this din, it is well to remember the words of the great French thinker, Simone Weil, who said, “If you wish to be always releveant, speak only of things that are eternal.” While there may be some disagreement as to what exactly one might mean by that word “eternal,” there can be little uncertainty about the essential sense of Weil’s advice – we should, in the interests of our students and of our culture, give our best and sustained attention to those matters which we know from experience – our own and others’ – to be worthy of such attention. It is not the task of the educator to pontificate or to canonize; rather, the educator must recognize what answers to the needs of the inner life whose summoning forth it is the educator’s calling to perform. We must not succumb to the illusion that the contemporary is simply by virtue of being contemporary somehow superior to works of the past. At the same time, naturally, we must not neglect current concerns or resources because in thrall to past practices, however “tried and true.” A proper regard for the past recognizes that it “is not a set of fetters to bind us,” as Ezra Pound warned, “but a beauty which we wish to preserve.” The work we demand of our students must bear a similar scrutiny. Does this assignment have an authentic outcome? Does this

text merit the effort required to apprehend its sense and significance? Is it really necessary to repeat this exercise? What are we doing here, and is what we are doing real? Busy work is wasteful work. And no one has the right to waste another person’s time. Here, again, it is apt to recall Goethe’s observation about the fruitlessness of the merely capricious. We must strive to define the inner truth, the true raison d’être of all we ask of ourselves and our students. Already in our language courses, for example, we are dispensing with the customary textbook approach to language training and, recognizing the value and efficacy of “immersion” techniques, introducing students at an early stage to primary sources – books, newspapers, magazines, radio, films, and so on, that simulate more concretely and immediately the milieu in which a language is organically acquired. Enquiry-based or project-based curricula in every cycle also encourage this sort of direct engagement with the material by reducing the role of mediating textbooks and secondary authorities. This methodology has long been recognized as having a more lasting and profound effect on students, because it places the responsibility for their learning in their own hands. Moreover, direct encounters with the world through observation and manipulation draw the student directly out of her isolation and create a sensorial environment. No less importantly, classroom discussions and seminar settings take precedence over the more passive dynamics of a lecture. So, too, we seek in designing a renovated

33

34

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

campus to have in mind the continuous, coherent, and purposeful education we desire for our students. Buildings and the classrooms they house must be designed to fit the human form and human function. We come to school to work, but the work we do is of and for the lives we hope to live. And those lives we conceive to be vibrant, passionate, and purposeful. So, then, the spaces we inhabit must enhance and encourage such attitudes. The allure of the novel is felt perhaps nowhere more powerfully than in the realm of technology. Each year we are confronted with startling and wonderful advances in computer sciences. It is tempting to latch on to these material advances as solutions to pedagogical problems. But we must resist this impulse – the equivalent of impulse shopping. We must rather ask what we believe it is essential for our students to know, we must discriminate between a necessary skill and an advanced expertise appropriate to specialists in a particular field. The new tablet PC technology we have introduced, in conjunction with the installation of a campus-wide wireless network, represents just such a judicious application and assimilation of technology to the existing and the prospective curricula. What governs these choices is a desire for integration, coherence, and flexibility. What we hope for our students is the ability to be capable and confident in their use of these tools, while providing those students with serious interest in the science of computers an opportunity to cultivate that interest to higher levels of expertise and application.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





Mens Sana In Corpore Sano

THE MASTER PLAN



The Timely and the Timeless

A sound mind in a healthy body

O

O

ne of the oldest and most honored of pedagogical traditions consists in the belief that the overall development of the child must take into account the physical as well as the intellectual needs of the person. Indeed, the assumption persists, and rightly, that no one’s mental health can be regarded independently of one’s physical health. For this reason, schools have always maintained more or less rigorous programs of physical fitness together with regular monitoring of students’ emotional states. Physical Education departments provide organized activities designed to address the body’s needs for exercise and relaxation, while counseling services provide the assurance of confidential conversation and advice. Ashley Hall has long been a leader in these areas, particularly with respect to the specific needs of young women. We have only recently expanded our provisions by hiring a counselor for Pardue and Ross students to supplement the work of our counselors in Lane and Jenkins. The newly created Dean of Students oversees the social life of our students and works to coordinate programs intended to balance academic and co-curricular demands. We have initiated, as well, a complete

review and reassessment of our present daily schedule as a prelude to revising that schedule so as to shape the days in a more wholesome and less mechanical fashion. Students need interludes between classes, and they need time in which to complete work assigned and to assimilate new lessons. We need to attune our days to the realities of circadian rhythms and recognize the special needs of young people – including their need to get a good night’s sleep, for that, too, is a component of their physical fitness regime. Our schedule of competitive athletic events contributes to this concern as well. While we recognize that competition draws from students their best efforts, and while we have every hope of providing talented athletes appropri-

ate venues for their performances, we must also bear in mind the overall well-being of the individual. To achieve this balance, we will work to accommodate competitive events and academic demands in a balanced and beneficial manner. Hence, we have devised and implemented an Independent Learning Program for students who have demonstrated exceptional talent in athletics or indeed any pursuit, such as music or the other performing arts. Although we cannot hope to be – and have no desire to be – all things to all people, we can offer those especially talented students who have the requisite discipline a viable opportunity to experience an Ashley Hall education without compromising their passions.

ne of the greatest difficulties schools face is that of trying to maintain the highest of academic and personal standards in a culture that prizes novelty and constant innovation. We seem too often distracted from our primary purpose by the blandishments of entrepreneurs who promise a quick solution to the problems of education. Similarly, the clamor for relevance, for being up-to-date, for embracing the latest pedagogical fix, the most stylish prêt-a-porter curriculum require of us as educators a discriminating intelligence to discern the difference between the shrilling shill and the thoughtful professional. In the midst of this din, it is well to remember the words of the great French thinker, Simone Weil, who said, “If you wish to be always releveant, speak only of things that are eternal.” While there may be some disagreement as to what exactly one might mean by that word “eternal,” there can be little uncertainty about the essential sense of Weil’s advice – we should, in the interests of our students and of our culture, give our best and sustained attention to those matters which we know from experience – our own and others’ – to be worthy of such attention. It is not the task of the educator to pontificate or to canonize; rather, the educator must recognize what answers to the needs of the inner life whose summoning forth it is the educator’s calling to perform. We must not succumb to the illusion that the contemporary is simply by virtue of being contemporary somehow superior to works of the past. At the same time, naturally, we must not neglect current concerns or resources because in thrall to past practices, however “tried and true.” A proper regard for the past recognizes that it “is not a set of fetters to bind us,” as Ezra Pound warned, “but a beauty which we wish to preserve.” The work we demand of our students must bear a similar scrutiny. Does this assignment have an authentic outcome? Does this

text merit the effort required to apprehend its sense and significance? Is it really necessary to repeat this exercise? What are we doing here, and is what we are doing real? Busy work is wasteful work. And no one has the right to waste another person’s time. Here, again, it is apt to recall Goethe’s observation about the fruitlessness of the merely capricious. We must strive to define the inner truth, the true raison d’être of all we ask of ourselves and our students. Already in our language courses, for example, we are dispensing with the customary textbook approach to language training and, recognizing the value and efficacy of “immersion” techniques, introducing students at an early stage to primary sources – books, newspapers, magazines, radio, films, and so on, that simulate more concretely and immediately the milieu in which a language is organically acquired. Enquiry-based or project-based curricula in every cycle also encourage this sort of direct engagement with the material by reducing the role of mediating textbooks and secondary authorities. This methodology has long been recognized as having a more lasting and profound effect on students, because it places the responsibility for their learning in their own hands. Moreover, direct encounters with the world through observation and manipulation draw the student directly out of her isolation and create a sensorial environment. No less importantly, classroom discussions and seminar settings take precedence over the more passive dynamics of a lecture. So, too, we seek in designing a renovated

33

34

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

campus to have in mind the continuous, coherent, and purposeful education we desire for our students. Buildings and the classrooms they house must be designed to fit the human form and human function. We come to school to work, but the work we do is of and for the lives we hope to live. And those lives we conceive to be vibrant, passionate, and purposeful. So, then, the spaces we inhabit must enhance and encourage such attitudes. The allure of the novel is felt perhaps nowhere more powerfully than in the realm of technology. Each year we are confronted with startling and wonderful advances in computer sciences. It is tempting to latch on to these material advances as solutions to pedagogical problems. But we must resist this impulse – the equivalent of impulse shopping. We must rather ask what we believe it is essential for our students to know, we must discriminate between a necessary skill and an advanced expertise appropriate to specialists in a particular field. The new tablet PC technology we have introduced, in conjunction with the installation of a campus-wide wireless network, represents just such a judicious application and assimilation of technology to the existing and the prospective curricula. What governs these choices is a desire for integration, coherence, and flexibility. What we hope for our students is the ability to be capable and confident in their use of these tools, while providing those students with serious interest in the science of computers an opportunity to cultivate that interest to higher levels of expertise and application.


A Community of Purpose



THE MASTER PLAN





The Ashley Hall Woman

I



ASHLEY HALL ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION

Activities Update

Ashley Hall produces an educated woman who is independent, ethically responsible, and prepared to meet the challenges of society with confidence. n the end, of course, we must realize that, given our goal, as articulated in our mission statement above, we cannot predict, and we should have no desire to predict, what professional roles these young women will choose for themselves. But we can predict that whatever their professions may prove to be, they will be human beings. Our aim demands, therefore, that we focus on doing all we can to ensure that our graduates will be capable and confident in their ability to participate in the greater world beyond our campus . We can succeed only if we insist that a happy life is a humane life, motivated by inward understandings drawn forth through the experience of a humane education. We must admit a stark truth: secondary school is the last formal education these students will receive. College, university, professional schools – these have all become vocational programs. Concern for the person who will practice those professions is no longer the business of “higher education.” It is for us at Ashley Hall to address that most fundamental of concerns. We have the great advantage of working with students for an extended period of their lives. So many of the Ashley Hall girls begin as early as Kindergarten and remain with us for their entire school careers. This opportunity is also a tremendous responsibility. As we present our Master Plan for the future, we assert our willingness and indeed our determination to assume that responsibility with gratitude and confidence. We have begun to change our campus and our curriculum - our campus in service to our curriculum -- with the assurance that these changes will resonate in the world beyond our walls for many, many years to come. John Donne’s oft-quoted line, “No man

ALUMNAE

Mary Neves Turner Richards ‘89 President, Ashley Hall Alumnae Association

Ashley Hall Alumnae Association Welcomes Its Newest Alumnae

is an island, entire of itself,” applies as well to schools, for none can be or should be wholly independent. The success or failure of any deliberate community situated within the matrix of a larger and more heterogeneously purposive community depends for its survival and its flourishing upon the good will and support of the larger group. Author and environmentalist Bill McKibben argues in a recent essay (New York Review of Books, November 16, 2006), “The technology we need most badly is the technology of community – the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done.” This is all the more essential in the case of schools, precisely because a school is, of its nature, an expression of our collective desire to become a more deliberate and coherent society: intellectually, spiritually, and imaginatively. Indeed, the willed diversity of the academic community is necessary to its purpose of forging a unity of humane understanding, while retaining the vital multiplicity of individual aspirations and temperaments. If the ambient community does not respect that purpose or fails to see how the school’s program fosters such a re-visioning of society, if that dialectical relationship is undermined by lack of faith or trust, then neither the school nor the society surrounding it can become great. Ashley Hall’s Master Plan does not belong solely to Ashley Hall. It belongs to Charleston and to the greater community beyond the banks of the Ashley and

Cooper Rivers. This plan is a vision of and for the future transformation of the society in which we live. It is our hope that the direction and character of that transformation is implicitly revealed within the pages of this Perspectives. As the great aqueduct in Spoleto guides water from its mountain sources to the city’s fountains, so we hope at Ashley Hall to guide the intellects and the sympathies of the young women entrusted to us across the gulf that separates the individual from the community, solitaire from solidaire, and thereby bring fresh reserves of life-sustaining spirit to a world desperately in need of such energies and such compassionate understanding.

Grant, O Lord, to all teachers and students, to know that which is worth knowing, to love that which is worth loving, to praise that which pleaseth Thee most, and to dislike whatsoever is evil in Thine eyes. Grant us true judgment to distinguish things that differ, and above all to search out and do what is well pleasing unto Thee.

Amen

T

he Ashley Hall Alumnae Association celebrates the transition each Ashley Hall student makes upon graduation and welcomes every new graduate into its membership. On February 8, 2006, The Alumnae Association hosted a luncheon to honor the Class of 2006. This luncheon provides an opportunity to welcome the graduating class into the Alumnae Association and share with them the benefits of maintaining lifelong connections to their classmates and the school. It also showcases the resources the Board has available to enable them to do this. To emphasize the value of the Ashley Hall alumnae network, the girls were seated with alumnae with whom they share a vocational interest. Prominent local alumnae shared how their Ashley Hall connections have affected their lives beyond high school. From Marguerite McLaughlin Bishop ’49, Jubilee Society Representative, to Anne Heinsohn Stavrinakis ’96, Senior Class Liaison and luncheon coordinator, the message from alumnae rang clear —Ashley Hall has not only given all of us a firm educational foundation, but has also – and perhaps more importantly – given us all a family to learn from, laugh with, and rely on throughout life. Alumnae also shared tales of their first employers (often fellow alumnae), lifelong friendships, and new relationships between graduates who weren’t even at Ashley Hall during the same years. The Class of 2006 was also the first to receive the Ashley Hall Alumnae Pin. Mary Vardrine McBee, founder of Ashley Hall, chose Purple and White as the school colors to reflect the purity of a pearl and the friendship symbolized by the amethyst. To honor this tradition, the

Helen Marie Corless ’06 is pinned by her sister Laura Kathleen Corless ’01. Alumnae Association enlisted Croghan’s Jewel Box, to design a circular pin, and the first of these were bestowed upon the girls in a special ceremony in Davies Auditorium following graduation. Both the graduates’ families and the members of the Class of 2007 were invited to watch as the graduates were “pinned” by their alumna sponsor. Earlier in the year, the seniors were given the opportunity to select an Ashley Hall alumna to be their sponsor or to have a sponsor selected for them. Honored alumnae sponsors included the graduates’ mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Alumnae members of the Ashley Hall Board of Trustees, members of the Alumnae Association and Ashley Hall teachers, mentors and coaches were also honored to participate at the request of the senior girls. A reception to celebrate all of the new graduates followed the ceremony. We welcome the class of 2006 and we look forward to keeping up with them through their college years and beyond. The Association Board is excited about hosting the Class of 2007 in February for lunch and especially looking forward to our next pinning ceremony. Any Alumnae

35

36

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

Fall 2006 PERSPECTIVES

interested in participating in either of these events or other activities with Alumnae Board should contact Carolyn Newton at 843.965.8454 or newtonc@ashleyhall.org.

Christmas Play Guild

T

he Guild was formed four years ago when an alumna parent noticed that the angels’ wings had not been refurbished since she was in the play. Since then, guild members come together annually and volunteer their time to repair worn garments and props and create new costumes. The Guild represents a wonderful opportunity for alumnae to share the history and legacy of the Christmas play with current Ashley Hall students. By encouraging enthusiasm and passion for the play, alumnae are helping to connect students with generations of girls before them. At a reception prior to the performance, guild members recount the history of the play and recognize each cast members with the gift of a keepsake ornament. In this way, the Guild is serving to make each Christmas performance sparkle while connecting it to memorable performances of the past.

Ashley Hall Master Plan Fall 2007  

Ashley Hall Master Plan Fall 2007

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