7380 Girard Avenue, La Jolla

Gillispie School / Constructing Sandboxes

Gillispie School has launched a $4 million campaign, Constructing Sandboxes, to fund enhancements to the existing campus and to remodel the new building the school purchased adjacent to the campus. This is a defining moment in Gillispie’s history! Please watch the video below to hear more about this amazing project, and thank you to Nick and Stephanie Stone for producing it!

Campus Enhancement and Expansion

Phase 2: Campus Expansion “The Sandbox”

Happening now – an extraordinary transformation!

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 our recently purchased property is critical to implementing the School’s mission and living its hands-on, deep-thinking education. Once completed, The Sandbox will house:

a performance and meeting space

music and recording studios

science lab and makerspace

library/media center

serving kitchen

outdoor seating and lunch area

Phase 1: Campus Enhancement


Over the summer of 2019, great things happened!

Two new Early Childhood classrooms, with an attached play yard, were created and are currently at capacity with new students.

Existing Early Childhood classrooms were renovated to add more natural light and increase square footage.

A new outdoor eating area for Early Childhood was added to allow for a Reggio-inspired sense of family gathering.

The Kindergarten classrooms relocated to our upper campus to unite Gillispie's Elementary program.

The art classroom moved into its own building—the Art Bungalow—and includes a beautiful outdoor space for plein air art.

A 'Collaboratory' was built to replace the former teacher/staff galley by combining it with the former student teaching kitchen.

Strategic infrastructure upgrades were made throughout campus including new roofing, HVAC units, and a water filtration system.

Construction Photos

Questions and Answers



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.

When 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 help make these amazing enhancements available for our students and faculty.

If you are interested in chatting with someone about giving to the campaign, please contact Alison Fleming, Head of School.

Are there naming opportunities?

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

Who is on the Constructing Sandboxes Campaign Committee?

Zoe Kleinbub and Dagmar Smek, Co-Chairs

Pietro La Greca – Claire Grezemkovsky – Linda Kao – Peter J. Preuss – John and Lynnsay Rogers – Jessica Schuster – Susan Yang



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.

Why don’t you just borrow the money?

It would not be financially prudent for the school to assume additional debt. The debt service on the increased debt would negatively impact the school’s ability to deliver its exceptional programs.

How is the campaign being funded?

The cost of mounting the campaign will be paid for out of funds raised.  The projected cost is less than 4% of the total raised.



What will the campus be like during construction?

As we move forward with constructing the new facilities, our guiding principles are:

  • The needs and safety of our students and parents are our highest priority.
  • Construction sequencing should create the least disruption for students.

Who is the design and build team?   

We have 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 is Lakewood Builders LLC.

Imagine Red, a team of architects, interior designers, graphic designers and artists based in Los Angeles who specialize in educational spaces have come 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 head of school Alison Fleming at

[email protected]

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