Good evening friends and families of Richland Academy. I am so pleased to welcome you to our school and to thank you for joining us in celebrating the grand opening of our newly expanded learning facility.
The heavy machinery that had occupied our space for the past 11 months has left, the trades are slowly vacating our premises, the dust is settling, and as a community we are familiarizing ourselves and getting comfortable in our new home.
We enthusiastically began the 2014-2015 school year with a freshened and renewed energy, and an excitement and passion for the possibilities that lie ahead for us as a vibrant learning community. This newly constructed and renovated, innovative and Reggio inspired facility is here to enrich the learning experiences of our students , and to prepare them with the skills, competencies and knowledge for today and for tomorrow.Three years ago I embarked on the journey to transform our school environment that would be inspired by the Reggio philosophy and would support 21st century pedagogy. The investigation into this transformation began with many questions, including how we would create a school that honoured children and their learning, that had a natural curve to it, a large piazza, where we could all meet as a community, one that had big, open, light filled and interconnected areas for learning to occur naturally, and would support the curiosity and imagination of our children, staff and faculty.
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As we began to collaborate, our ideas were captured on paper and soon, over a period of 10 months a school design was born. Along the journey of creating our new school, a small team of passionate and dedicated people, my husband John O., our architect Wes S, my colleague, Laura M., and my brother, David T, of Rutherford Contracting, came together to make this vision, this dream…. a reality. Today, after a year of construction, we stand in the very piazza that was merely an image, three years ago. I am overcome with immense joy, gratitude and hope.
On October 11 , 2011, our community gathered in our gymnasium where I delivered the Vision Share speech on the future of Richland Academy. Much of the presentation was focussed on the future and direction of learning, why it was important to be aware of this direction, and how Richland had not only transformed the way we learn, but was prepared to transform it’s learning spaces.I wanted to share these words with you this evening, because the very words I spoke then, continue to resonate with me today with greater passion and conviction in the belief that our practice as educators must be intentional and purposeful and always done in the best interest and in the image of the child….our future generation… a generation that will need to think creatively and in innovative ways, “as their survival in the future will be dependent on this. They will need to solve problems and deal with the exponential rate and expansiveness of change that they will face”. (D. Culberhouse, September 2014) Traditional methods of learning and traditional spaces will no longer be capable of coping with a constantly changing world. During the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to do some marketing work with a friend by the name of Struan R., who is here with us this evening, with his lovely wife, Danielle. After hearing the story of Richland, he shared that, “Richland is a love story”… Tonight I wish to add to Struan’s words by sharing with you why I think Richland is a love story……Richland is a love story because for the past three years I have watched and experienced how every person who has contributed to its new creation, directly or indirectly, did so merely because they believed. They believed in a dream, they believed in possibilities and they believed in hope.
To the staff, faculty, administrators and families of Richland who rallied and supported every step of the way. Our custodial team who go above and beyond the call of duty. To the Town of Richmond Hill and its staff under the leadership of our Mayor, Dave B., and our Local and Regional Councillor, Vito S., for their efforts and support. Friends who cheered along the sidelines. Rutherford contracting, under the leadership of Blair C., the site supervisor, Paul B., the trades who crafted with care, and my brother David who attended to every detail of the construction with pride, and a commitment to excellence. To Wes, our architect who captured the image of the school so beautifully. Laura Murgatroyd, the Martha Stewart of Richland, who offered many ideas and her design sense at every stage of the journey. My dad, the cheerleader, and my sons, who over the years despite the lost hours of time with mom, continue to support and encourage me to be the best I can be. My mother who guides me daily from above, and last and certainly not least, my husband, John, who without him, none of this could be possible. His unconditional love, support, encouragement, and belief in the dream, pushed us to where we are today. I thank you all.The following quote was recently shared by one of our dads, Mr. C., “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” ~ Walt Disney
We believe that our evolving landscape will nurture and develop our young people to be the deeper thinkers they will need to be, who are confident and world ready.My wish for children is to dream, and to dream big, because a dream, a vision that is driven by a purpose and passion, will lead to a future of limitless possibilities. Futurist, author and lecturer, Joel Baker says, “a vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. But vision with action can change the world.”