The Hub occupies what was previously known as “The Annex” next to the library – to be known henceforth as The Learning Commons. It is designed to provide a collaborative, team-centered environment, according to Ms. Meg O’Neill, Pingree’s Learning Commons director. Furniture is arranged in "pods" to promote group work, with comfortable seating to lend a relaxed, creative, yet purposefully academic focus to the room, and there is even a "genius bar" for technology teacher Dave Medvitz to monitor and assist activity.
The Hub grew out of Head of School Tim Johnson’s directive to Ms. O’Neill, Mr. Medvitz, and Director of Technology Ms. Tammy Conrad to research innovative, forward-thinking spaces for teaching and learning. At first they looked at what was happening in local independent school libraries and tech centers. “But we really wanted to ’reach’ and find a flexible design” so they visited The Sandbox at Bentley University and, thanks to Brian Cusack (P'15), they also toured the Google offices in Cambridge. “It was at both of these places that we found the design elements we were looking for.”
The Hub is geared toward all members of the community throughout the year, to include Prep@Pingree and auxiliary programs such as Pingree Masters. The room can be reserved online by faculty and staff for academic classes, training sessions, and more. It can also be used by Peer Leaders and Peer Tutors for dynamic learning experiences that take full advantage of new technology. The "pods" turn the authority of the classroom away from the traditional "teacher at the front" into a group learning experience. The TV monitors at each "pod" display what is happening at that table, which in turn can be projected to the group as a whole on a larger screen.
”I see The Hub as the first phase in an opportunity to rethink and redesign the entire library (now more appropriately titled the Learning Commons),” explains Ms. O’Neill. “So much of how we research and create is online and collaborative, and The Hub makes available the best of all resources in an exciting new space that will be proudly Pingree in form and function.”