How Our Community Supports Students in the Classroom

With two thick cardboard tubes tucked under his armpit, Grade 1 student Frank grabs two large, empty buckets and places them on a table in the Imagination Lab. He grips his hands around the tubes and, brandishing them like drumsticks, starts beating the tops of the buckets.

Imagination Lab bottleAcross the room, classmate Aanya has found a small wooden stick and a glass bottle. First, she hits the side of the bottle and listens to the high-pitched “ting”. Then she puts her mouth up to the lip of the bottle and blows, making a low-pitched sound.

The Grade 1 students are beginning a science unit on sound. They’ve been tasked with scouring the materials in the Imagination Lab, finding items they can hit together to make different pitches and then arranging those items from lowest pitch to highest pitch.

It’s loud and it looks chaotic. But as the students listen closely and experiment by hitting their items together, it’s easy to see that they are learning through this hands-on lesson.

Imagination Lab thaumatropeTen minutes later, the Imagination Lab is quiet and spotless. It’s been quickly transformed into a cartoon studio as a Grade 3 class comes in to learn about animation. Their teacher walks them through the history of moving pictures. They first learn about persistence of vision by each making a thaumatrope. They then watch in awe as they learn how a zoetrope and film projector work. Before class is done, the students learn how to make an animated video of themselves moving around the classroom.

“The Imagination Lab is a space that really embodies our belief that students learn in a deep way when they have choice and flexibility, and are stimulated by different materials to be creative,” says Mrs. Becky Anderson, Director of the Junior School.

Across our Junior, Middle and Senior Schools, we emphasize creating the best classroom environments in which students can learn. At the Junior School, which is inspired by a Reggio and inquiry-based approach, that means intentionally creating spaces where students learn through play and hands-on exploration. Play supports the development of sought-after 21-century skills like communication, critical thinking and creativity.

The Imagination Lab is one of many examples of academic projects at SMUS supported by the Annual Appeal. The construction of the Imagination Lab and stocking it with high-quality equipment and materials would not have been possible without financial support through the Annual Appeal.

Annual Appeal“The Annual Appeal allows us as a school to dream and turn our dreams into reality. Our teachers were able to dream about having a dedicated space that aligns with our approach and fill it with amazing equipment and materials and an Imagination Lab coordinator there to support them,” Becky says. “When I think about the Annual Appeal, I think about potential. The Annual Appeal helps expose children to what’s possible. When teachers have a great idea they think will really take their students’ learning to another level, those conversations are able to happen because the Annual Appeal helps bring those ideas to life.”

The reach of the Annual Appeal extends far beyond just the construction of the Imagination Lab. Donations to the Annual Appeal directly impacts student learning. All three schools benefit from donations that allow us to redesign classrooms and purchase flexible furniture, support our Learning Resource programs, bring in guest speakers and purchase new technology and equipment for classrooms and labs.

Imagination Lab zoetropeBecky says the Annual Appeal plays a crucial role in students’ learning experiences from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

“I think people support the Annual Appeal because we all want our children to have the best opportunities. A donation to the Annual Appeal is a vote of confidence in the school that helps ensure no teacher or Director is left thinking, ‘If only I could say yes to this opportunity for the students,’” Becky says. “The Annual Appeal helps the experts in the classroom be given the green light to create the best, most supportive, most interesting, most engaging learning opportunities for all children.”

Every Student, Every Opportunity

Every day, students are encouraged to explore a vast range of opportunities available to them in academics, arts, athletics, outdoor education, leadership and service. We are a community that supports our students in every aspect of their SMUS journey. “Every Student, Every Opportunity” reflects our mission of seeking the excellence in all of us.

Please join us in supporting our Annual Appeal and help us give every student every opportunity to realize their potential today and for years to come.

Donate online at or contact Shara Campsall, Director of Annual Fund and Major Gifts, at or 250-370-6197.


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