By Jessica Bailiff, Development Coordinator for MIR
MIR hosted its annual Campus Tour and Lunch event on in what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day on Friday, October 11. The day was perfect for an outdoor stroll — quite a difference from the day prior!
This guided tour gave families the opportunity to learn more about the rich history of MIR and the campus, see facility updates, discuss upcoming projects, and visit each of the unique and special areas of the campus.
We were joined by a wonderful group of parents with children ranging from toddlers to upper elementary. It was great to see a mix of families, both new and long-time members of the MIR community, mingle, walk, and talk together as we reveled in the beauty of the campus and the bright sunny day.
The tour was led by Lisa Kensok, Marketing and Communications Director, with Maryhelen Campa, Primary Teacher; Roger Smart, Facilities Manager; and Head of School, Jenny Davidson. The hosts treated the group to a plethora of information at every stop. The collaboration and perspective from this quartet covered a full spectrum of knowledge which induced a great appreciation for the school’s strong roots and modest onset and celebrated the growth and changes that have shaped the indoor and outdoor environments of MIR today.
We gathered around an MIR heirloom that lives on the office patio: a hanging piece of tile art almost as tall as a primary student containing small squares of painted handprints time stamped for 1991, the year MIR moved to its newly built building on Orange and Nevada and out of the Esri campus.
We continued on with a stroll to a particularly exciting stop at the south campus playground. So many people supported this project through the planning, fundraising, and renovation stages. Seeing the children running through the wide open spaces and racing down the bike paths, climbing on the train, and enjoying the outdoors was wonderful. Roger even gave the group a sneak peak of an area that is not yet complete and is sure to garner lots of excitement! Stay tuned for this!
Thereafter, we lost ourselves in the beauty of the Legacy Garden & Walk, remembering and paying tribute to founders Leon and Margie Armantrout. We walked along the path adorned with brick pavers of families whose presence is forever marked. We stopped at the sun dial and compass, and then the labyrinth and butterfly garden before crossing the picturesque bridge where we were reminded of a time before it existed. Prior to 2005, students and staff would have to venture outside the school and onto Nevada Street to get to the north campus! The tour reminded us of so many wonderful projects that the whole community came together to make happen.
We stopped at the fork in the path after the bridge to admire the grapefruit groves. Roger then invited us to hop along the purposefully placed stones that were set in a perfect semi-circle just off the concrete path, meant to be a fun detour for the children. It was decided that heels and sandals were probably not the safest footwear to try it out! We cut to a path through the landscaped edging around Venus’ class and came to appreciate all of the thought and detail that goes into every inch of the land, so much of which enhances the experience for the children, the staff, and parents, too!
We arrived to the multi-tiered concrete space between the two buildings where our attention was directed to the PEACE pole, which sits between two large cypress trees that were planted in 2001, as a 9/11 tribute. The pole, a lovely gift donated to the school by Maryhelen’s daughter in her 6th and final year at MIR, is a simple yet all-encompassing fixture that represents the culture at MIR as well as the heart of Dr. Maria Montessori herself, who was noted as one of the most influential peace advocates in history. She was herself nominated several times for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Prior to enjoying a light lunch and great conversation on the office patio, we came to our final stop, the Student Services Center. The project was completed in 2016 after a three-year campaign to raise funds through the MIR Fund and the Spring Gala. A campaign that started with a dream years ago of former Head of School, Maura Joyce, to bring student services on-site for MIR students. This dream became reality thanks to donors: MIR families and alumni, organizations such as San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and a staff and board who consistently seek to offer only the highest quality education and developmental program for the children. These services and the building in which they take place are on the long list of wonderful things that sets this school apart, and visiting each of these areas on the tour reminded us all of just that.
If you would like to support the continued enhancement of the MIR campus and the services the school provides, donate or pledge to the MIR Fund.