New Home for School of Education to Benefit Entire Region

The new home for the Saint Mary's School of Education, due to break ground in late May 2006, will provide the critical first step towards achieving a new vision for the Moraga campus and help meet a growing demand for trained teachers.

The School of Education, founded in 1967, has occupied the former offices of the San Francisco District of the Christian Brothers at the northwest corner of campus since 1989. The school has since grown to enroll more than 600 students in 11 teacher credential programs, 8 certificate and licensing programs, 13 master's degree concentrations, and a doctoral program.

The new building, originally scheduled for groundbreaking in 2004, is designed to relieve overcrowding for the school's 21 administrators and staff, 29 full-time faculty, and numerous adjunct faculty. The Academic Support Center, which provides tutoring and a variety of support services for students with special needs, will also be relocated to the new building.

The move will also enable the school to accommodate increased enrollment. According to Nancy Sorenson, dean of the School of Education, the school's enrollment has risen more than 10 percent in the last two years alone.

Yet benefits will extend far beyond the School of Education, says Sorenson. Many schools in Contra Costa and Alameda counties are staffed with teachers from Saint Mary's, "so the wider East Bay stands to gain from this expansion."

The new 37,000-square-foot building, to be named in honor of longtime College supporters Frank and Olivia Filippi, will be located at the southwest corner of campus where a parking lot now stands. The custom design includes observation classrooms, conference rooms, a Montessori classroom, curriculum library, and instructional labs.

The two-story structure will feature a landscaped central courtyard adjacent to Augustine Hall designed to enliven entrances to both buildings. Energy-efficient construction includes thermal windows and thick exterior walls to minimize the building's impact on resources.

Of the $24.2 million needed to complete the project, $20.5 million has already been committed so far, or more than 80 percent of the total. Raising the necessary funds is the highest capital priority to the College at this time, according to Brother Stan Sobczyk, FSC, interim vice president for advancement.

"It's the critical first step in reenergizing the master plan for campus," says Brother Stan.

To contribute to the construction of the new Filippi Academic Hall, contact Elizabeth Gallagher at the development office at (925) 631-4223.