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The Think Tank Homework

Long before this inspiring graphic was created to capture Project Blu Sky, a team came together forming an in-house Strategic Planning Committee. The goal of this team was to complete an Architect James Hanis assignment given before he left to carry out an Imagineering Project at Disneyland Paris.

Strategic Planning Committee Members: Karen Brinke, Judy Coleman, Mary Jo Dyre, Tammy Fleischer, Kelly Parker, and Ted Scott came together for the early days of taking in the development opportunity and challenges that were fueled by the December 2017 initial meeting of architect James Hanis and career educator Mary Jo Dyre that had produced a tale of two visions. Ted Scott graciously shared from his Capital Campaign Development experience as we all began to think of what might be possible. As much as we all longed to somehow attract the funds needed for such a project, we knew we had much to learn in this journey that is still evolving in the fall of 2021.

What we did not understand was all that would have to be "unlearned" as the need for yet another team presented itself: Ryan Bender, then middle school ELA teacher and Director of Drama; Karen Brinke, then Assistant Director; Cheryl Catuto, Success Coordinator; Judy Coleman, middle school Social Studies, History, and Music teacher; and

Mary Jo Dyre, then Executive Director, tackled the task of explaining in words and numbers how much space was needed and what every square foot of learning space should contain and be open to it if we were to give "our architect" the information to design a facility where education could unfold to its fullest extent, no holes barred, no limitations well into the 21st century and beyond.

Interestingly, our existing mindsets proved to be the greatest challenge. James Hanis had left me with some powerful advice: "You must throw out the but we cannot afford that mentality. I want you to think, to dream without the limitations of funding always weighing you down, limiting the very creative thoughts that are needed for such a project. Do not allow your long, lack of funding history to cause you to settle for less when fleshing out the best, the ideal, the cut-above educational environment.

That advice took some unlearning.

Over the course of the next two years, the Architect + the Educator along with a team of dedicated staff members "immersed themselves into a series of inquiries and collective conversations that captured their imagination to think of ideas that do not exist and to create a new world in changing reality through Education. This critical thought defines a meaningful platform for encouraging students to explore and engage fully in their freedom of academic research into the unknown mystery and spirit of education curriculum." From BLU SKY OBSERVATORY Facility Replacement Project.

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