Tatnall School’s new $1 million library lets students just get on with the business of learning, says a student at the private college preparatory school in Wilmington.
“We have a whole bunch of open classrooms, movable whiteboards and desks, and then we have a whole bunch of charging stations for them to work by themselves,” said junior Nate Hunter. “It’s really just letting them get to work on their own and a space that they can really feel comfortable in.”
He and his classmates have benefited from self-learning and also from the help from tutors and teachers in some of the conference rooms.
Ensign Simmons, director of innovation and technology at the pre-K through grade 12 school, said there has been a surge of students using the space since its upgrade over the summer.
“I think we probably had about four or five students in here each period up until last year,” he said. “This year, we have close to 20 students each period in here, so we’re talking about a four or five-fold increase in the number of students that are using this space throughout the period and throughout the day.”
The largest contribution to the $1 million project was a $475,000 grant from the Longwood Foundation. The remaining funds came from other local foundations and Tatnall alumni, parents and board members.
“This will also drive admissions,” Simmons said. “We had an admissions event in the space yesterday for our lower school students looking at the middle school, and some of those lower school parents … walked in and just saw what a space like this could provide in terms of opportunities for their kids as they grow up and go through the different grade levels.”
He called it a central hub for middle and upper school students and something lower school students can look forward to.
The construction took place from the second week of June to the first week of September in 2023.
The library now features STEM technology, 3D printers, robotics, a laser cutter, a new media bar, conference rooms for classes to be taught and more.
George Hughes, a senior, said the new space is more inviting to students and makes it easier to study.
Simmons said making STEM more accessible at Tatnall was definitely a focus.
He teaches the AP computer science class in the library.
“The term that I’ve been using is future flexible,” he said. “We wanted to create a space that wasn’t going to be shoehorned into a specific purpose that we’d be able to use for the next couple of decades and be able to adapt to the changing educational trends over those times as well.”
The project included the outdoor renovations.
“They redid the entire facade of the school,” Simmons said. “There was an old, metal awning that was demolished and turned into what we’re calling an eco-courtyard.”
There’s also been improvements to the rain water mitigation system.
“This was done not just to make it look better, but to make it function better as well,” Simmons said.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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