Bowman School Announces Grand Opening of its New Learning Village Site in Palo Alto, California

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Specially Designed Buildings, Outdoor Space and Public Art Project Provide an Unprecedented Learning Experience for Bowman School Students

Bowman School's new Learning Village site will provide an unprecedented environment where students can be academically challenged in a self-directed and individual learning format.

We believe that building a strong foundation for life-long decision making, problem solving and critical thinking is what makes our students successful and the addition of our Learning Village within the Bowman campus will enable us to carry that tradition forward for many years.

Bowman School, an internationally recognized, Montessori-accredited school located in Palo Alto since 1995, today announced that the grand opening of its new “Learning Village” site on Arastradero Road in Palo Alto is scheduled for September 7, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. This event represents a significant milestone in Bowman’s mission to continually provide new and innovative learning experiences to help students succeed. With the addition of the Learning Village, which is located within 300 feet of the main school, Bowman’s footprint is expanded to three acres, allowing space for 3 and 4-year-olds to attend the existing preschool program and making room for a STEAM activities lab, expanded outdoor space and a multi-purpose building that includes a gymnasium and theater.

“Our ultimate goal with this project was to provide an unprecedented learning environment where students can benefit from an academically rigorous program in a self-directed and individual learning format,” said Mary Beth Ricks, Head of Bowman School. “We believe that building a strong foundation for life-long decision making, problem solving and critical thinking is what makes our students successful and the addition of our Learning Village within the Bowman campus will enable us to carry that tradition forward for many years. Our grand opening event is an opportunity to thank all the families, staff and Palo Alto neighbors for their unwavering support through the entire planning and building process.”

About the New Learning Village
In planning and designing the Learning Village site, Bowman worked closely with its Palo Alto neighbors, hosting several community open houses and incorporating ideas from these meetings into the final plans. As a strong supporter of the Palo Alto community, it was important to the school to provide benefits of the new site to the neighbors as well, and this is now possible with local plays and music presentations, as well as additional community service projects.

The Learning Village was designed to support and promote Bowman’s Montessori educational philosophy and the small-scale residential character fits well with the neighborhood. Creating a Learning Village instead of an institutional campus emphasizes the individualized learning approach at Bowman and extends the educational experience to include indoor and outdoor spaces. Each aspect of the design has a specific purpose including extensive natural lighting in each building, landscaping that showcases the school’s philosophy of caring for the environment, multiple outdoor spaces for exploration, as well as small or large gatherings, and open spaces inside the buildings to allow for independent movement and creativity while studying.

Key features of the site include:
●    IDEALab for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) activities and enrichment programs with a woodshop, art room and science and media lab
●    Gymnasium/multi-purpose building where students can stay on site for sports practices, host school events, and have indoor space for school wide activities
●    Outdoor space for school gatherings, lessons and gardening to include a sunken learning circle, science garden and greenhouse, as well as multiple pathways and a labyrinth
●    Stage for the school’s multiple performing arts events including theater, band and orchestra
●    Preschool classrooms with features specific to younger students and allowing for the Montessori primary class model of multiple ages in each class starting at a young age

Collaborative Public Art Project
Located in the front concrete walkways of the Learning Village is a public art project designed by Kamau Patton, internationally award-winning artist, who teamed with Bowman students to develop and create the Montessori-inspired words and symbols embedded in the sidewalks. The scale and proportion of the design are significant, with more than 25,000 square feet of space and more than 2000 letters and symbols that can’t be seen in one viewing, but require walking through the campus to capture the full vision. The collaborative process between artist and students included every step of the process from multiple workshops and discussions, to agreeing upon the final design, visits to the fabricator in Oakland to watch pieces being made and then seeing them installed. The project is a convergence of Montessori thinking with engaging art and shows the power of public art to provoke thought and have a lasting impact.

About Bowman School
Bowman School is an innovative, accredited, internationally recognized Montessori program serving PK – 8th grade students in Palo Alto, Calif. Founded in 1995, the independent, non-profit school provides an academically rigorous program in a self-directed and individual learning format. Bowman helps students build a strong foundation for life-long decision making, problem solving and critical thinking as they develop a sense of responsibility, independence and self-confidence about themselves and the world around them. More information can be found at http://www.bowmanschool.org.

Additional Quotes:
“Helping to bring the Learning Village site from concept to reality has been a favorite project for our team,” said Steve Dunne, Project Executive at general contractor SC Builders. “The goal of the design team was to create a small-scale, residential-style ‘learning village’ that reflects the Montessori educational philosophy and emphasizes the individualized learning approach using both indoor and outdoor spaces. These goals were met and exceeded, while also ensuring the new site fits in well with the neighborhood context and is respectful of the surrounding uses.”

“Public art should represent and inspire the local community it serves, and this project succeeds as the themes are pulled directly from the Montessori philosophy and the Bowman School students were joint collaborators on each aspect of this design,” said Kamau Patton, award-winning artist. “Bowman staff supported the shared vision of this project, providing steadfast support and time for the students to be engaged at every level. As a result, all Bowman students can benefit from the inspirational words and ideas artistically reflected in the walkways and carry the importance of these ideas with them for a lifetime.”

“We chose the Bowman school for its unique educational learning environment and have been consistently impressed with the school’s hands on approach, which is a fundamental core value of Montessori,” said Christina Hildebrand, parent at Bowman School. “The addition of the new site will expand these possibilities even further, providing our children with more opportunities to foster and grow their academic and enrichment interests.”

“As an educator, I have seen first-hand the impact the Montessori approach can have on the developing minds of children,” said Ryan Knight, teacher at Bowman School. “With the addition of the new Learning Village, I am excited by the additional opportunities we will have to engage with students both indoors and outdoors, which will enable us to better guide them on the path to lifelong success.”

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ERIKA POWELSON
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