Library Renovations Develop New Leadership Lab

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Celeste M. Brooks P'12, '21, Director of Communications

With the upcoming addition of J-Term classes and a major renovation taking place this summer in the Garth Payne ’34 and Helen Cooper Payne Library that will support the addition of another Pre-Professional Pathway (PPP), the R-MA academic program is not just moving forward, it’s skyrocketing upwards.

Library renovations began in May, with the difficult progress of "weeding" the book collection. Some went to English classrooms, some to individuals, and others to the local public library.

It all started last fall with the creation of the Hadeed Innovation Wing in Stan Fulton Hall. This integrated space featured robotics, computer programming, flight, engineering, art, and graphic design. It was the perfect area to support R-MA’s first Pre-Professional Pathway: Aeronautics, Technology & Engineering Design. The team of teachers—Ryan Koch and Marc Kramer of the flight department, art teacher Holly Thompson, and technology teacher Stephanie Wagner—moved easily from room to room to accomplish various aspects of projects. “For example, Ms. Wagner’s robotics students would go into the graphics lab to use CAD software,” said Dr. Tess Hegedus, Dean of Instructional Leadership and Innovation. “They would create the 3D design, then build component parts of their robots using the 3D printer and/or the laser cutter.”

The drone program was expanded through a partnership with Brian Kelly of National Drone Services with an optional, in-depth class on Friday afternoons. Dr. Hegedus is hoping that partnership will continue to develop. “Drones are becoming a part of everything we do,” she observed, “in terms of cybersecurity, delivery systems, healthcare, construction mapping, cinematography, and so on.”  

This collaboration and partnering is exactly what Dr. Hegedus had anticipated when she introduced the concept of the simulation labs at R-MA. The Hadeed Lab has been so well-received by the R-MA family that a second lab is being constructed this summer within the Garth Payne ’34 and Helen Cooper Payne Library. The space will be named the Betty and Dave Moore ’53 Enterprise and Leadership Lab, in honor of two people who have been devout supporters of R-MA.

Once a central hub to the campus, the R-MA library has slowly grown quiet as students began to do more and more research through online databases and on the Internet. Though learning lab and tutorial sessions, along with the occasional online class, took place there, the room was otherwise woefully empty. R-MA Librarian & Media Specialist Elizabeth Rogers wasn’t satisfied with that, and neither was Dr. Hegedus.  The opportunity of updating the library to a modern, active research space intersected perfectly with the need for a new collaborative learning hub for the next two PPPs: Leadership Dynamics and Global Entrepreneurship.

The new Leadership Lab will have the blue and yellow of The Power of Rise.

The library renovation has been on-going over the summer. The traditional high bookshelves were removed and replaced with low-level bookshelves to help open the space. Tables and chairs that provide a hub for collaboration and research were added. Retractable glass walls have created a learning studio. 

 The part that began before the school year ended was paring down the library’s collection, but while this is an emotionally difficult process for book lovers, it is logically simple: books that have never been checked out or research materials that have aged out are removed. In their place, Ms. Rogers will focus on bringing in books and databases that align more intentionally with the Academy’s PPPs—books on flight and leadership, and, in the future, health and human performance. The goal is for students to be so comfortable with research that it is completely natural for them to explore a question or an idea and engage their curiosity without being prompted by a school assignment.

 “The library renovation is a way to bring us up to speed and also intentionally align what we’re doing educationally,” said Dr. Hegedus. “It’s going to be more than just a library. It’s going to be a place where people build knowledge and future possibilities.”

Renovating a library into a leadership lab is a messy business. The space looks amazing now, but we're not ready to give it away just yet!

The major renovations are completed as of today, September 23, 2019; now comes the long process of replacing the books on the shelves. Once the library is fully completed, we will host a Facebook Live reveal, and there will also be a ribbon-cutting and tour during Homecoming weekend

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