7380 Girard Avenue, La Jolla

Gillispie School / Constructing Sandboxes

Gillispie School is in the final stages of a $4 million campaign, Constructing Sandboxes, that is funding enhancements to the existing campus and a rebuild/remodel of the new building the school purchased adjacent to the campus. This is a defining moment in Gillispie’s history!

Campus Enhancement and Expansion

PHASE I – Campus Enhancements

Status – Completed August 2020!
  • Addition of two Early Childhood classrooms
  • Extensive renovation and modernization of all Early Childhood classrooms
  • Updated and reconfigured outdoor learning space
  • Addition of Staff Collaboratory

PHASE II – Campus Expansion “The Sandbox”

Status: Completed August 2021!

What is a “Sandbox”?

From a term used in industry, a “Sandbox” is space where data and processes are looked at in new and meaningful ways. For Gillispie, it’s a place where ideas are sparked from the interaction between and among students and teachers. It’s where generative thinking takes root.

It’s more than a new building—it’s improving and expanding Gillispie programs. 

A core principle of the Reggio Emilia philosophy is that the learning environment itself is an important educator. The build-out of this new property is critical to implementing the School’s mission and living its hands-on, deep-thinking education. Now completed, The Sandbox houses:

A performance and meeting space

A music room/studio

A science lab and makerspace

A library/media center

A teaching/serving kitchen

An outdoor seating and lunch area

Construction Photos

Questions and Answers



1.) What is the difference between the Annual Fund and a capital campaign? 

Annual gifts are raised each year from parents, faculty and staff, grandparents, and alumni families. These gifts allow Gillispie to provide outstanding educational opportunities for students and support faculty salaries. Gifts to the Annual Fund allow Gillispie flexibility in responding to the needs of programs and priorities on campus this school year. A capital gift is normally a larger, one-time gift that goes toward projects like new buildings and campus enhancements.

2.) Will I be asked to give to the campus improvements? 

The Gillispie Board of Trustees has achieved 100% participation in the campaign!

By the end of the campaign, all families will be given an opportunity to contribute to these amazing enhancements for our students and faculty.

If you are interested in chatting with someone about giving to the campaign, please contact Debbie Rodriguez, Director of Advancement and Community Relations, at 858-459-3773 ext. 133 or [email protected]

3.) Are there naming opportunities?

Yes! We have areas that have already been reserved but are happy to discuss available opportunities with you.

4.) Will funding come from tuition hikes?

No.  Gillispie will seek funding through a combination of mostly philanthropic giving as well as from increased enrollment due to the addition of two early childhood classrooms.

5.) Who designed and built the Sandbox?

We engaged the architectural firm of IPA, cutting-edge leaders in innovative design, to help us achieve one overarching purpose: to stimulate creativity in as many ways as possible so that children have numerous opportunities and ways in which to become passionate learners.

The general contractor was Lakewood Builders LLC.

Imagine Red, a team of architects, interior designers, graphic designers and artists based in Los Angeles who specialize in educational spaces came on board to provide interior design services.

Donor Voices

Linda Kao

``As members of the Gillispie family for close to a decade, we have had the wonderful fortune of seeing our children grow with the school. We are so appreciative of the incredible faculty and staff, and we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of Gillispie's pursuit of amazing new heights. Not only is this campaign a way to give back for all the school has given our family, but it's the best way to be part of Gillispie's bright, bold future that will benefit generations of children to come.``

Lynnsay and John Rogers

``We believe as a family in supporting excellence, especially in education. Gillispie School is a first-rate educator and we feel fortunate to be able to participate in its expansion. With adding two Early Childhood classrooms and re-designing its current EC classrooms, Gillispie will finally be able to meet the demand for their highly regarded EC program. With the new building purchase and its state-of-the-art 'Sandbox' spaces, thousands of kids, over endless generations, will be able to explore, build, and create. Ask yourself how many little minds will your gift affect? It’s endless... If ever there was a worthy cause to give to, this is it.``

Dagmar Smek and Arman Oruc

``The Gillispie School is a special place in our community and unique among schools. It is a vibrant, forward-thinking, and nurturing environment in which to learn, thrive, and lay the critical foundations for life. We can think of no better place for our children. Opportunities to acquire contiguous space are so rare, especially in a village such as ours. We are thrilled that Gillispie seized the opportunity to expand and we are proud to support this transformative project. Its lasting impact on La Jolla and future generations of children means so much to our family. ``

Interested in learning more?

Contact Director of Advancement & Community Relations, Debbie Rodriguez, at

[email protected]

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