Mount Vernon’s New Upper School Building: Why Now?

Jan 23, 2018 | All School, IMAMUSTANG, MV Mag Issue 1, Upper School News

Contributed by Chip Houston

We have outgrown our spaces. This is a game changer for our school. I am the proud father of three boys. Oliver, my youngest, is four. By the time he graduates from Mount Vernon the year will be 2033. As parents, my wife and I often find ourselves imagining the future that lies ahead for our children. What will be the biggest challenges? What jobs will be the fastest growing? Will schools have prepared our kids to take advantage of new opportunities? None of us has clear answers to these questions, yet. With an eye toward the automated future with wearable technology, virtual reality, and ‘smart home’ technology, what role will human-centered problem solving play? What does that mean for parents? For schools? Mount Vernon aims to put people first by empowering them with the resources, critical thinking skills, and desire to design a better world. Whatever the future holds, it will require your kids and mine to be creative, empathetic, ethical individuals to do that work. It is our responsibility to do that work now.

chip houston

“Mount Vernon aims to put people first by empowering them with the resources, critical thinking skills, and desire to design a better world.”

Last year, we heard education transformer Grant Lichtman speak at ‘A Night of Inquiry, Innovation, and Impact’ about an exponentially growing gap between the trajectory of schools, the trajectory of innovation, and the needs of tomorrow’s world. We are closing that gap.

We know more about the brain and how it works than at any point in human history. We are more connected (and disconnected) than ever before. Technology, information, and access are accelerating at rocket speed. How can school as we know it possibly prepare our children for this world? Certainly, school will fail to do its job if it looks like it did when we were in it. We must do the impossible. We must accelerate at a faster, superhuman rate. Mount Vernon has grown in nearly every measurable category for the past nine years, including acreage, enrollment, retention, applications, philanthropic giving, diversity, and recognition. We’ve outgrown our spaces.

“The new Upper School space is a game changer. It is an accelerator, a symbol, and an outward expression of our school’s mission, vision, and culture, which will provide all Mount Vernon students an opportunity to design a better world.”

Mount Vernon is truly unique. We are a community that is not only willing to question the way it’s always been done, but also to blaze the trail forward. We are redefining the paradigm of teaching and learning. We are all learners. The building itself, while innovative, isn’t a pioneer, but what can happen inside and beyond the building will create the pioneers of the future.

Pioneer Tomorrow

Every dollar that we invest in the Pioneer Tomorrow campaign goes far beyond the construction of a physical building, but rather grows and compounds with the impact that will come out of it for decades and generations of future Mustangs. True pioneers foster opportunities and set the conditions for that kind of impact. We choose to do this now. To be a part of this community. To be a Mustang. To be a Pioneer. In 2033, Oliver and his classmates will arrive at their future. Will everything we do from this day until that one be enough to close the gap between the challenges and opportunities the future holds and whether or not our children are equipped to rise up and meet those moments? The time is now. We only get one shot at stewarding our collective children into the future – and the time is now for us to step up and set the conditions.

“This new building isn’t just a building, it will simply be the foundation for the lives we have an opportunity to impact.”