Hammer Time

roofThe kids are at the beach; the teachers are on their way to vacations, good books, and (for some) even conferences. Administrators are around, wrapping up loose ends and watching construction crews descend on our campuses, their job beginning as our school year ends. It’s a topsy-turvy time, the quiet of a school without students juxtaposed with the growl of heavy machinery and the rattle of pneumatic drills.

By the time the kids get back in August campus will look very different. Here at Diegueño Proposition AA funds are transforming our media center into a state of the art learning space. Flexible, technology rich, and student friendly, our library will provide Diegueño with an academic heart of campus.

Along with huge upgrades to our technology infrastructure –literally 100 times improved wireless and the capacity for all our students to access the technology they need to learn– the media center project is the largest improvement ever seen at our almost thirty year old campus.

This summer’s improvements are part of a multi-year vision for Diegueño, and as with any construction project, ours is a collaboration. To watch our architect, contractors, suppliers, and district personnel work together inspires me. This coordinated effort to achieve meaningful results is a real-life example of the best of education at work.

I see in our architect the person our math and science focused students might become. Planning, communicating, and articulating a vision for the space, our architect shows what can happen when Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs are enriched with a pinch of the arts (some call this STEAM), and a student translated her learning into a career she loves.

Grounded and gruff, I see in my project foreman the adult version of the organized ASB student who takes big ideas and transforms them into brick and mortar reality. Just as a jog-a-thon or school dance can’t happen without someone to stay centered and mind the details, so too our big school improvement projects happen only when someone coordinates the many moving parts.

Schools, of course, are like this, and while we don’t see students ripping out drywall or climbing tress with chainsaws, the collaborative nature of a project like ours, with the planning, producing, and problem solving is increasingly what education is all about. No one at our weekly construction meetings is showing off how many state capitals he’s memorized or how well she can do long division; the measure of success is the ability to work together, adapt to unexpected challenges, and create something of consequence.

That consequential result will be on display for all when school starts up in the fall. Until then I’m blessed with a catbird seat for great collaboration, and a reminder of how important it is for us to raise kids who are able to work together, think, adapt, and produce results. I’m excited to see Diegueño students learn those skills in our new media center, and they won’t even need to wear hard hats.

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