I work part of my weeks in an old building. Not as old as some of the buildings I've spent time in. (1920's era anyone?) This mass of blocks, terrazzo floor, replacement windows, boilers, and actual slate chalkboards was built during the Post-WWII boom. The other part of my week is in a school that was completed the winter of 2007. It is shiny and new. Climate controlled.
I'm kind of, really, meh about the new place.
Not that new isn't good. I get that we needed a new building. Sweaty teens in August, September, May and June is not conducive to optimal learning conditions. Neither is asbestos. Having working WiFi helps teachers and students alike when using new iPad technologies in the classroom. We have a better cafeteria that can quickly serve half the student body each lunch period. We have an auditorium that has an actual stage for musical performances.
But these old school buildings are so filled with character. The wooden doors that creak when you open them. The way the sunlight pour through the large glass foyer each morning onto polished floors. The rattle of the pipes as the heat cranks up in the boilers. In the building where I used to teach English (which is no longer standing) we had transom windows that would let daylight into the hallways from the classrooms. The key hole for my storage closet was a skeleton key. I had pine floors that gleamed golden. Yes the classroom was the temperature of a warm oven in the summer and the windows seeped in chilly winds during the winter months. But I swear, you could hear the echoes of the hundreds of teens who came before when the halls were empty.
Someday the new building I work in will no longer be new. The old one where I am now will no longer stand. We will cut the ribbon on the renovations that are happening this year and move back into a school that is only a shell of its former self. That may be the building that suits me best of all. Something old made new again. Saving those bricks, that hallway, those doors, for students yet to come and from the wrecking ball that haunts so many other buildings I've walked through. Yes, progress must be made. Our students deserve good places to learn. But I still mourn the beautiful buildings filled with craftsmanship we will never get back.