Grand Opening of Rectory’s New Hale Elementary School and Smith Learning Center!


On Monday morning, January 23rd, 2017, amidst the falling snow of New England, the grand opening for the long-awaited Hale Elementary School and Smith Learning Center was held at Rectory School. Speeches were given by Rectory’s Headmaster, Fred Williams, the Director of the Elementary School, Maria Carpenter, and the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Lawrence Hale. His mother, Betty Hale, was one of the highest donor families, which allowed the new elementary school to be built. Other donors, such as the Henry B. Smith family, allowed for the new tutoring spaces to be built. Read on to find out what each of these new spaces has to offer.

The first floor is the location of the Hale Elementary School. When you first enter the new building through its main entrance, to the right of the Day Room entrance, there is a lobby with two restrooms. Continuing to the right are the Grades K-1 and 2-3 classrooms; the Grade 4 classroom is down the hall to the left of the restrooms. All of these elementary classrooms are connected to each other, which allows for collaboration.

The DiRectory interviewed the Director of the Elementary School, Mrs. Maria Carpenter.

DiRectory: Did you help design the new elementary school spaces?

Mrs. Carpenter: Before the architects began to draw the plans for the new building… they asked to meet with the elementary teachers to hear what our dreams were for the new space. We talked about how we wanted the building to be connected to nature and be comfortable for the children, like it’s an extension of their home. We wanted the hallways to be wide and to be part of the classroom learning experience. Our idea for the hallways was for them to be more than just a path to go in and out of the classrooms; we wanted the hallway space to be a place where the students could learn, too. One of my favorite spaces is the outdoor classroom. We want children to understand that learning is all around them and that it can happen indoors or outdoors… I can’t wait until they can write while sitting on a bench, with rain falling above them on the skylights!

DiRectory: What is one of the benefits of having all the elementary classrooms connected to each other?

Mrs. Carpenter: I’m most excited to have the children in grades K through 4 be able to share their learning with each other. It makes learning more personal when children can share ideas and conversations with their friends and grow together… just like in a family. Also, the children can continue to build relationships with their teachers from year to year.

DiRectory: What are some of the features of the new elementary school classrooms that were not available in the previous classrooms?

Mrs. Carpenter: There are so many features that we’re proud of! A few of them are the beautiful, natural wooden furniture and the connections to nature. In Grade K-1, there are small couches and chairs where children can read and look out at the pond, a block area where children can keep their structures up from one day to the next, and plenty of creative space for drama and sensory play. In Grade 2-3, we love the new Writer’s Nook, and the SmartTV is so much fun to use and can do so much more than a traditional SmartBoard.

The second floor is the Smith Learning Center which holds all of the Individualized Instructional Program (IIP) tutors’ offices. There are 17 offices which all have the same basic layout and are all approximately the same size. There is a new center space which holds an open conference area with tables and a new Smart “whiteboard” which can save notes and allow for email access. Also, there is a study carrel, with several dividers and chargers for laptops, which allows several students to each have a private space to study for an upcoming test or to complete a test that they may have missed. These study carrels and the open conference area can be used during the Enrichment periods, as well, while a teacher works with one student and another student needs to complete a different assignment at the same time. Also, this new learning center is used for the small-group evening study hall, so that students can study without distraction.

Rectory’s new academic space is a place where students can collaborate, explore, and learn even more than ever. These spaces hold more advanced technology in a more ergonomically-designed and educationally-sound learning environment. Come tour the new Hale Elementary School and Smith Learning Center at Rectory, so we can share our excitement about this new academic building with you!