By Judy Tacyn
After more than a decade of planning, St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School recently broke ground on a new building, which will house its expanding school. The building will be known as the Snyder Learning Center, named after the Snyder family, which offered a generous leadership gift to the project.
“There is great excitement about this project, one that is long overdue for our beloved school,” said Jamey Hein, head of school. “The new building will not only enhance the campus and bring vibrancy to our grounds; it will allow St. Martin’s to advance its student-centered mission of educating students of confidence, compassion and character.”
St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School opened in 1957 — three years after the church was founded — as an outreach to both the Severna Park and church family communities. The school has grown and expanded over the years, with an elementary school added in 1998 and a middle school in 2004. The first eighth-grade class graduated to high school in 2007.
“We are proud to have instilled the core values of the Episcopal church of inclusion, welcome, confidence, character and compassion into literally thousands of students over the history of our school,” said the Rev. Matthew Hanisian, rector at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal Church. “Our middle school is currently housed in temporary learning cottages hidden toward the rear of our property. With the completion of this project, we will now have a beautiful new building that mirrors the quality and excellence of the Episcopal education our students receive here at St. Martin’s.”
The 7,000-square-foot Snyder Learning Center is slated to open in fall 2019 and will offer students and faculty a modern and bright facility with four new, large and modern classrooms; a separate space for a large art room; and a science classroom with a lab. There will be new administration offices, teacher workrooms and a single common entrance. All of the classroom space will be multipurpose use, doubling as classroom space for the community’s growing Sunday school program.
“The entire school will benefit from a new and secure entrance, lobby, and reception space for artwork and displays,” said Hein. “We are excited that our school will include a visible Benfield Road entrance. While St. Martin’s has existed as a school for 60 years, a major challenge has been a lack of visibility. That there will be a focal point is symbolic, but it’s important to our ability to market ourselves and be seen by the community.”
Hanisian said both the church and school had to make many considerations during the planning of this project and consider input from multiple stakeholders from both parts of the St. Martin’s community.
“First and foremost was how does this building help advance the mission of both the church and school?” said Hanisian. “As a whole community, we examined how this new space would enhance our mission as a church and school and were deliberate about ensuring that the needs of both our growing church and school were taken into account.”
Hanisian said much time was spent thinking about the impact to neighbors of St. Martin’s and to the environment, as 50 percent of the St. Martin’s property is designated “critical.”
“We have put a portion of our property into easement with [Anne Arundel County] and will be planting dozens of new trees as a result of this project,” added Hanisian. “As a portion of our property sits within the critical area of the watershed, we had to navigate and were sensitive to all of the environmental concerns our location brought. We have always strived to be both good neighbors and good stewards of the resources we’ve been entrusted and our new building is the latest example of St. Martin’s taking that commitment very seriously.”
Hanisian added that the design of the building is intentionally more modern than other structures on the St. Martin’s campus.
“The design is a continuation of our original church building built in the colonial style in the 1950s to our parish hall and current church building, which are both design evolutions, to this new project, which is even more modern and contemporary,” said Hanisian. “Each phase of growth of our church and school has its own feel, and our new middle school building is no exception.”