Crane Country Day School has taken one last picture of its 83-year-old kindergarten cottage before demolition takes place later this month, paving the way for a newly constructed classroom.

The new classroom will more than double the current size, boasting 2,551 square feet, of which more than 1,000 square feet will be covered, multifunctional outdoor space.

“The building and grounds complement the environmental side of Crane’s curriculum and enhance the experiential learning that is paramount to the school’s mission,” said board trustee Rolly Lokre, who has two Crane graduates and one still at the school, and who is overseeing the project with Crane business manager Dale Dunlap.

Dunlap said the design of the classroom was a collaborative effort, taking into consideration the perspectives of teachers, staff and incoming kindergarten parents, ensuring the most practical use of space.

Some of the highlights of the new classroom include a SMART board, two bathrooms, kid-friendly cubbies, cathedral ceilings and large windows to capture natural sunlight. Perhaps most exciting is the enlarged space, which is more conducive to the individual and small group instruction that takes place in kindergarten, allowing small groups to work simultaneously in the same classroom without disruption.

Despite the increased size, the kindergarten class will retain its small ratio, with two full-time teachers. For kindergarten co-teacher Megan MacMurray, the destruction is bittersweet.

“I am one of five siblings and cousins who entered that classroom decades ago as a shy, 5-year-old and emerged ready to conquer the rest of the campus,” MacMurray said. “I feel so lucky to be a part of the transformation of the kindergarten program that will occur with the new classroom. While still maintaining the cottage look, we hope to create an academic environment where students can learn through the use of technology, in an environmentally conscious setting.”

The new classroom won’t be the only addition to kindergarten next year. Come September, there will also be a new co-teacher, Andrea Soto, who will team-teach with MacMurray.

In a letter to parents, Head of School Joel Weiss described Soto as “someone who showed truly masterful kindergarten teaching during her interview process, revealing a level of proficiency and skill that is seldom seen in such a young educator.”

The kindergarten classroom represents the binding project for Crane’s recently approved conditional use permit, which stipulates that new construction commence within the year. Many were instrumental in the management of the project, including Jon Samuels (chairman, Building and Grounds Committee), architects Ken Radtkey and David van Hoy, and general contractors Giffin & Crane, who have built the majority of structures on Crane’s campus.

— Ann Pieramici represents Crane Country Day School.