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iTHINK: Setting the Course

March 2018

When Maclay was founded, it had to establish its vision and direction.  What would our classrooms look like?  How do you define a College Prep and Liberal Arts Curriculum? How do we create a campus that serves our school community and what we BELIEVE is important about educating our students? 

The solid groundwork that was built has made Maclay into the outstanding school it is today and has served us well for 50 years. 

I was so happy to be able to make history with 450+ friends of Maclay School as I shared the iTHINK Initiative at Maclay during our Golden Jubilee Saturday night.  This is our vision and framework for our future. 

We are merging our educational foundation with a transforming initiative that will provide our students the opportunities to learn how to create, to think critically, and to collaborate to attack problems worth solving.  

The Portrait of a Maclay Graduate is completed by the iThink Initiative. It will transform our classrooms, curriculum, and campus to bring together Technology, Hands-On Learning, Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge. 

is redefining Liberal Arts Education at Maclay to meet the needs of our students – not just where they are TODAY but where they are GOING.   

With the help of our faculty, retired teachers, and leadership, as well as board members, input from parents and our strategic plan, we have mapped an exciting course for our future. 

First, our campus: We are in the design stage of a 25,000 square foot building called the Center for Innovation and Student Services.  This building will answer so many of our needs as a forward-thinking school.  The simple fact is that the ambitions of our students and faculty have outpaced the capacity of our facility. 

The building site just south of the Upper School and north of the pool will answer the decades-old desire for a new Science Center.  It will house state-of-the-art science, engineering, technology, and math classrooms, new College Counseling office, Center for Learning, and a 5000 square foot student commons where our students can gather during their time off during the day for collaboration or simply to grab a snack out of the snack shack.   

Next, our curriculum:  Starting this fall, we will offer an expanded K-12 curriculum in technology and engineering, programs like robotics, coding clubs, competitions, and provide additional computer science staff and classes in all divisions. The Upper School will also offer new concentrations in the fields of Biomedicine, Core Science, and Engineering and Robotics, followed by future concentrations in Business and Entrepreneurship, Art and Design, Political Science, and Pre-Law.  The iTHINK curriculum will provide our students with project-based, experiential learning and expand our current programs and offerings. This new curriculum will align with our strategic plan and what we believe will be the essential skills for success in the future. 

Finally, our classrooms and Research Center Lab additions:  Our new Research Center will house three hands-on labs where students can apply 21st Century skills, conduct research, and explore connections between Sciences, the Arts, Technology, and Engineering from grades PK – 12.  

These new architecturally innovative, environmentally friendly labs are made of recycled shipping containers and will be the largest classrooms on campus. Imagine this, green buildings, off the grid, powered by solar energy, water collected from rain for use and study...It is more than anything a school in the state of Florida has undertaken, which is where we like to be – cutting edge. This will be the hub for our PK – 12 students to experience, to exhibit, and to learn. 

Thanks to a generous matching gift, multiple significant donations, and an amazing show of support at the Golden Jubilee, the classrooms are already under construction and are scheduled to be installed this summer.  Nine eighteen-wheelers will pull on campus in July, and a crane will place them in their new home next to the Webster Center, and we will be up and running by the first day of school in August.  

The first lab is for Computer Science and Robotics.  The second lab is our Inspiration, Art and Design Lab.  The third lab will be home to our Bio-Medical and Core Science Concentrations.  This Lab will also allow students to have a secure space for ongoing Science Research which we currently do not have.  All three of these labs include an outdoor courtyard for student activities, collaboration, and information sharing.  The Research Center's labs are not simply classrooms; these are Active Learning Environments which will foster students' soft skills like communication, confidence, and creativity - the 21st Century Skills we always talk about that our children will NEED to compete and succeed in the world ahead of them. This shifts the focus solely to a student-centered environment where there is no back of the classroom, and we learn lessons by DOING. 

The iTHINK Initiative is the exciting new framework that brings the work already underway by our faculty into focus for the institution and gives our students more ownership and exposure to the best education in the region.  Our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan is ambitious in its reach to make sure our students and graduates are prepared to meet and exceed the challenges of tomorrow.  We take this challenge very seriously and take great pride in focusing our direction to iTHINK. 

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