No. 116 | Campus

The Future of Learning: Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Middle School

From the outside, the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Middle School looks a lot like its predecessor, Finney Building. Officially opened in the fall of 2021, the state-of-the-art space pushes the boundaries of innovation and student-centered learning and meets the needs of a modern McDonogh education.

Designed in the traditional Georgian style, the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Middle School  seamlessly blends in with McDonogh’s campus architecture. But step inside and it is quickly apparent that the 65,000-square-foot state-of-the-art structure was intended for today’s students and those of the future.

“We were very cognizant that we were planning a building which would be around for quite a while,” says Middle School Science Department Chair Eileen Heady. She and a committee of three other long-time Middle School faculty members were charged with creating the guiding principles that served as the foundation for the building design. To prepare for the task, beginning in 2015, they visited peer schools, studied best practices in which architecture and learning complement each other, and after much brainstorming and discussion came up with a thoughtful framework for Bowie Gridley Architects to consider. 

Flexible teaching spaces, fewer hallways, and central locations to allow for greater communication and collaboration were all at the top of the list. In short, their goal was for the long-awaited building to foster LifeReady learning. Additionally, after years of middle schoolers traveling from Finney to the top of Allan Building, over to Keelty Hall, and down to the basement of Lyle Building, it was a priority that all the classrooms, the library, the learning center, and the arts spaces be under the same roof. 

After much consideration, the planning committee agreed that it would be best to divide the building by grade rather than by department. Heady explains, “In the Middle School, we operate on a team level and do so many cross-curricular, grade-level projects and activities. We needed the building to be fluid and flexible.”

While the planning committee doesn’t know how teaching will change in the future, they are confident that the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Middle School is what McDonogh will need as people become even more collaborative. “We thought about what’s best for kids and how they learn,” Heady says. “This building is innovative and energizing. It makes me really happy to see the things we planned come to life.”

In early 2019, Michael Greenebaum, a longtime McDonogh parent and trustee, pledged $8 million to the project on behalf of the Stewart and Marlene Greenebaum Family Foundation. Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum were Baltimore philanthropists who believed deeply in improving the human condition and making the world a better place. Through their spirit of philanthropy and civic leadership, they touched countless lives both locally and globally.

Learn more about McDonogh School's rich history by visiting the archives online.

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