Head of School’s Notebook: A Home for Inquiry

October 13, 2023

Last month, the Board of Trustees visited Cate for the first Board Meeting of the year. Among the various exciting updates from all aspects of Cate life, I was able to tour the site of the ongoing construction project on campus, the Inquiry Collaborative.

This new facility is a testament to our dual commitment to preservation and innovation. The building has been designed to seamlessly blend with our campus’s natural beauty while housing a diverse array of academic and student support services that will boldly move our educational program forward. This summer, we received a $100,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation thanks to a generous Cate family who provided the requisite $100,000 match to support our computational thinking initiative which will be housed in this new space. Like our nationally recognized Inquiry approach to teaching, this program will be integrated throughout our curriculum ensuring that students have the skills to embrace ambiguity and complexity in their lives beyond Cate.

In my first few months here, I have sat through countless exciting conversations about this building, and I’m excited to share highlights with you.t. The Inquiry Collaborative will house cutting-edge classrooms and collaborative spaces that will empower our faculty and students to use inquiry as way to integrate ideas across disciplines. Through exploring, questioning, and reflecting, students will forge their own path to discovery. It is a place where tradition and progress coexist harmoniously both in the physical space and in our pedagogy. Learn more about it from our faculty and students here:


Here are a few key features of the building that I hope you will find just as interesting as I do:

    • Computational Thinking Classroom: Thanks to our new E.E. Ford Grant, we will be able to expand our Computer Science offerings and will be integrating computational thinking into existing courses. This classroom will be the hub where we’ll teach students to solve complex problems by leveraging technological tools in service of uplifting their unique human capacities of creativity, collaboration, and contextualization.
    • Digital Arts and Photography Lab: Students will integrate the art and science of producing digital images in this multi-modal space. Equipt with a traditional darkroom, state-of-the-art computers, and high-end printers, students will be able to explore and express their creativity in endless ways.
    • McIntosh Room: The historic McIntosh Room will take on a new life in this space and will once again serve as the heart and hearth of the school.
    • Outdoor Collaborative Spaces: The spaces are designed to allow for both indoor and outdoor collaboration across disciplines with stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean.
    • Integrated Student Services: We believe deep learning requires deep care. The new Inquiry Collaborative will house Student Services offices, structurally solidifying our commitment to collaboration between academic excellence and student well-being.

During Fall Family Weekend later this month, families will have an exclusive opportunity to tour the construction site and see the progress of the building. If you are a current parent of a Cate student and are interested in seeing the site while you are here in October, please contact the Advancement office.

Cate has a rich history embracing tradition and innovation and this new building is a physical manifestation of that enduring commitment. What I love most about Cate is that we believe meaningful connections between people and ideas are foundational to all we do and those values are on full display in this new space. Thanks to the stewardship of leaders and donors over the past decade, we are the beneficiaries of their vision. I feel honored to be stewarding the school at this dynamic time and I invite you to join me in delighting in the promise of this new space and chapter in Cate’s extraordinary history.