The Making of a Kids’ Country Site: Rancho Romero
The physical environment of a Kids’ Country facility is an essential part of our after school and Enrichment programs. See how our two new sites are being transformed!
On July 1, 2016, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) turned over the keys to Kids’ Country’s newest sites: Rancho Romero in Alamo and Twin Creeks in San Ramon. With just six weeks to completely reimagine these two sites before the school year begins, this makeover has been an all hands on deck experience.
Key to this transformation are the two veteran site directors, Marnie Sowa (Rancho Romero) and Matt Montemayor (Twin Creeks), leading the charge. Each has had the experience of facilitating the DREAMZ project at their former sites, John Baldwin and Greenbrook. The foundation of DREAMZ is both human-centered design and an educational philosophy in which the environment itself becomes another teacher. [Read about Kids’ Country’s innovative DREAMZ project here.] Marnie and Matt have created exciting settings for their programs that will surprise parents and their children on the first day of school. Here’s what’s in store!
In addition to the home-like atmosphere that Rancho parents requested, some of the other things children and parents will notice are the creative activity zones, new paint and a new wall. The wall divides the large main room into two customized spaces: one for K-2nd graders and one for 3rd-5th grade students. Our programs are tailored to the interests and passions of these two distinct age groups.
Using a process similar to the DREAMZ project, Site Director Marnie Sowa, who has been with Kids’ Country since 2009, and Assistant Director Tara LaSalle have created a travel-based theme for the décor and incorporated parent and staff feedback into the zone designs. The art zone is a discrete area stocked with high quality art materials. One zone has been conceived as the “KC Café,” where students can use their imaginations to create a restaurant or café complete with a menu board and costumes.
Rancho will be our pilot site for a full slate of Enrichment classes. We are converting what was previously a small classroom into a dedicated Maker’s Space for Enrichment classes. While this new space is still a work in progress, Kids’ Country Resident Artist and Curriculum Specialist JP Neang is leading the design process and will be working to have it ready for Enrichment classes when they start up in September.
New appliances in the kitchen, fresh paint, natural wood furniture, Carmel (the bunny), and new programs create an extraordinary space that Rancho families will fall in love with!