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Student Voices Inspire Design of GA’s New Library and Learning Commons

By Amanda Mitchell
Early Childhood Coordinator

Germantown Academy's Strategic Vision doubles down on our commitment to early childhood education. With inspiring, collaborative, and innovative programming happening in our PreK-5 classrooms, we have embarked on a mission to create hub spaces across Lower School that are equally forward-thinking and supportive of 21st century learning.  

Community Voices

Inspired by the vision of the Library and Learning Commons as a central teaching, learning, and collaboration space, the professionals at 1100 Architect of New York City engaged students and teachers in the planning phase. Lower School faculty joined together last fall for several think tank sessions to solidify the program, function, and feel they wanted from the new library and learning commons.   

Lower School students then participated in a Design Day experience and were given the challenge:   

“How can we create a library that inspires us as learners, readers and creators? 

What would be in the library and how would it feel?”

Student Leadership

Fourth and fifth graders worked with PreK and Kindergarten buddies to help prototype their designs and all grades shared displays in the lobby that highlighted their creations.  Fifth graders collated all the designs from Lower School students to find trends in the data.  The results were exciting, creative and inspiring.  Popular design ideas included cozy nooks, fluffy hammocks, slides, light-up floors, moving shelves, treehouses, and live sharks who help to return the books to the shelves! 

They presented their findings to GA’s Board of Trustees at their February meeting – writing their script, creating a presentation, and answering questions from the Board. 


Construction Underway  

And now, for the second-straight summer and with the vision and support of our generous community, the GA Lower School is undergoing construction to build a new Library and Learning Commons.  The space is designed with flexibility in mind.  The plans include spaces to collaborate, technology hubs for writing and research, soft spaces for cozy read-alouds, a green room for podcasts and video production as well as a theater space for presenting student projects.  The space is an invitation to engage in the best 21st century learning opportunities and we can’t wait to see what our students and faculty will be inspired to create there!