Saturday, July 16, 2011

Old School

I have been away but not gone. At this point I guess I should disclose that I have been involved in developing an innovative new school that incorporates technology, and self paced group learning as a new model for education.

My relationship in the process is funny from the stand point that I was attracted to the project by the fact that it is a new concept. However, the most difficult part of the process is the fact that it is a new concept. In other words, claiming new territory is hard work because there is no model to follow. One day you are blazing a path and the next find you need to go in a very different direction, but exciting none the less.

In the interest of confidentially I will limit the extent of disclosure about the day-to-day of the process, but wanted to share a little about the experience with you and will start on the most basic level: the building that will house the new school. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

The building itself has gone through a number of metamorphosis' from its completion in 1911 as Beulah Beal Elementary School. Try as I might (doing an online search) I could not locate any information regarding the woman Beulah Beal; which is a shame but adds mystery to the history of the structure. Evidently it marched through the decades as an elementary school, all the while watching the neighborhood change around it.

I say that because the Springfield section of Jacksonville, with it's mix of old Victorian houses, used to be a place for the well-to-do set that fell on hard times. Recently renovated houses provide a hint of it's former glory. Slowly the area is returning to life as new families relocate to the area and lovingly restore the old homes.

During the early 80's, four founders - Doris Carson MD, Sam Rowley MD, The Reverend Gene Parks, and Davy Parrish DPA, led a reorganization of an organization called The Bridge of Northeast Florida" which transformed the building into a school for unwed mothers.

The hallways have an almost "back to the future" quality when compared to the large modern schools you encounter today. And, with such a long history of course there are stories of ghosts. Haven't seen any yet but again it adds to the mystery.

And now the school prepares for it's third age as it enters the 21st Century complete with WiFi, computer labs, and state of the art equipment. It is a wonderful old building that has stood the test of time, weathered hundreds of storms, and held many secrets. It is only fitting then that on it's 100 birthday it faces the future ready to be of service. Stay tuned...