Change is afoot in the RE spaces! The construction project necessitated some changes, and opened the door to others. I want to share what we are doing to make the RE class and common spaces better and more welcoming.

I began working here a year ago this month (that’s right, it’s our anniversary, y’all, and I got you paint and flooring!) I was delighted to learn there was a restricted fund for RE Renovations. It had been tapped for some big, wonderful work in the playground, but still had about $18K set aside for more work.

Last Summer I requested that we repaint two of the classrooms that were ready for a facelift as we planned our new Contemplation and Drama/Movement/Music centers. They were painted and we have enjoyed the radical change in those rooms that just new paint created.

Pre-PaintingThis Summer, we faced major changes as our renters, Friends of Mine preschool, made the decision to move over to Jefferson House from the room (RE5) they have been in for some time. This freed up that classroom for other uses, and also brought to light the fact that it was badly in need of new flooring and paint. In the next few weeks, a hard floor will go down, replacing the carpet, and painting is planned as well. RE5 will now become the space for our new Multigenerational Classroom. Read more about why we are offering this ALL-AGES Sunday 9:15 class, and consider registering in MY INFO

PaintingWalls-July2015The RE Commons and the NEW nursery (RE1) and NEW PreK room (RE2) will get some new paint and are undergoing a major assessment and de-clutter to make the rooms age- and developmentally appropriate and reflective of our values and goals. In particular, the curricular play and work that take place in PreK require a deep re-do on the room. We lost all the PreK furniture, materials, and resources we had previously shared with Friends of Mine PreK when they moved, so we have the opportunity now to make the space reflect our understanding of what a UU PreK consists of, feels like, and looks like.

In addition, a mini-theater space is being created in the RE Commons, with a ceiling-mounted projector, allowing us to use multi-media as part of our RE toolkit. Chalkboard walls are being added to the RE Commons so that our learning together becomes more interactive, and more engaging.

In Jefferson House, a fresh coat of ivory paint throughout the downstairs has brightened the whole house considerably. Both bathrooms have been renovated and are clean and welcoming–a much needed change! And the RE classrooms (JH7, 8, and 9) have all been repainted. A wall damaged by a leak from the roof has been fixed, and both JH8 and 9 now have a snazzy midnight blue chalkboard wall that complements the rooms and gives students and teachers a space to be creative and expansive, share ideas, and generally express themselves. In JH7, which has been the Coming of Age classroom for some (and is the 8th/9th grade Building Bridges/Neighboring Faiths classroom this year), the entire room has become a chalkboard, meaning a group of youth can truly “make their mark” on their space, yet leave it a “blank slate” for the class to come.

In 23 Edwin, what was previously the office of the music director is being changed to a dedicated space for the 10th-12th grade YRUU group, and they, too, will have a chalkboard wall.

In the playground area, we have installed a Children’s Garden with mosaic paving stones, a vermiculture condominium (worm farm! It will stay inside until the worst heat of summer is past), and a tumbling composter will be in place soon. Our very own Little Free Library is being placed later this summer after the kids get it ready. All these projects are part of our Makerspace Summer Sundays program, but constitute changes to the outside space you may notice and wonder about.

Bottom line financially? All in all, we’ve spent about $6500 from the Renovations fund this year, leaving us with about $10K for future projects in RE renovation. I hope this rundown helps you understand the “what” and “why” as well as the “how much” questions you may have about the renovations and changes you may see in RE spaces. And PLEASE DO come see us and one of the RE staff will be happy to give you a tour any Sunday just after church service is over. We would love to welcome you, as we do new families, into an RE space that feels and looks bright, open, nurturing, energized and well-cared for–just like our classes and the whole RE program!