Dear Powhatan Parents,

My letter to you this month about innovation will take a slightly different direction. Rather than share an observed innovative project or teaching strategy, I am going to share a teacher’s innovative vision and the impact it can make on students of today and those of tomorrow. Not only will this vision inspire students to learn, it will also cause colleagues to stretch, think out of the box and take a new direction with their practice. Innovation can start with a dream, and after that the possibilities are endless.

Clare Ferrell’s vision for our Pre-Kindergarten program was that it would become the beginning step for Powhatan’s strong early childhood program. She believed in the creation of a connection between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten – in curriculum, philosophy and space. Although she adored the intimacy of our pre-kindergarten cottage, she longed for more opportunities to connect with the teachers just across the breezeway to share ideas, classroom spaces and student time together. She knew the importance of cross pollination of ideas and how much that opportunity would enrich our early learners.

Clare’s untimely death this year will not stop her vision for innovation of our early childhood program. Because of the transformational gift that the Ferrell family has given to Powhatan, the school has embarked on a two phase renovation project which will enable innovation to blossom in the pre-kindergarten cottage and the early childhood wing. This summer, our kindergarten and first grade classrooms will become brighter, flexible and more open learning spaces which will enable broadened exploration in science, creative play and art – yet still provide the quiet spaces needed for our individualized language arts instruction. By taking down a wall between the kindergarten classrooms and creating a “kid friendly” kitchen, shared spaces will be created so that pre-kindergarten students might periodically join kindergarten for play, story time or cooking activities.

During the summer of 2019, renovations on the pre-kindergarten house will include a covered addition that will connect the pre-kindergarten cottage to the K/1 breezeway and provide a space for cubbies and a mudroom. Additionally, a room will be added on the opposite side of the cottage which will be used as a studio for science and art activities. By the fall of 2019, the pre-kindergarten will be connected to the rest of the early childhood program by a covered breezeway and shared learning spaces for students and teachers.

Finally, a portion of the Ferrell gift will go toward educating pre-kindergarten and kindergarten parents about navigating the developmental stages of four, five and six year olds. Clare believed that parents benefit from coming together to share and learn from each other too, and she wanted to be able to connect parents with experts in the field to promote that growth.

Transforming learning spaces, building connections between classrooms and enabling teachers and parents to continue learning – all innovative ideas happening at Powhatan and coming from one teacher’s dream to create a vibrant early childhood program. With a gift from her family, who believes in the importance and value of a Powhatan education, her legacy will become a reality for generations of current and future Powhatan students and teachers.


Sue Scarborough
Head of School