Redesign for school office, learning spaces making progress

Administrative staff patiently awaits their brand new office in the lower level of the school near the lower elementary hall.
By : 
Jordan Gerard

Those looking for the district office during the first week of school had to travel a little farther then previous years, as the temporary office is located in the lower elementary hall.

Administrative staff expects to be moved into the new office by late fall, while students can expect to work in the Learning Resource Center by late September. The Learning Resource Center was originally known as the Math Learning Center, or simply “Math Lab.”

The name changed because students will be able to use the space for much more than just learning mathematics. The original district office space provided the large area needed for the center. 

Students will be able to work within groups, individually and with teachers.

In addition to the new spaces going in, the main gymnasium bathrooms have been remodeled to include a handicap accessible bathroom. 

There will also be a women coaches’ room/referee room available to officials during games.

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen said the office relocation would improve accessibility to the office as well as a more secure entrance.

“We’re all looking forward to the completed project,” she said. “The staff is doing a tremendous job of being flexible with space.”

Teachers who will use the learning center space are anxious to move in, and not to hear construction noise anymore, she added.

The Media Center is also under renovations, as the east wall will feature large windows instead of painted cement blocks.

“The Media Center is mostly done,” Udstuen said. “The furniture is in, but we’ve put a new window in and the glass isn’t in there yet.”

This allows natural light to come in; one thing students and staff noted in their wishes for the school when Fielding Nair International architects visited earlier this spring.

During the visit, Fielding and Huichong Tang talked to teachers, administration and students about what types of learning spaces they would like. 

Examples like two classrooms that can be split by a glass wall or movable wall, which allows teachers across different subjects and grades to collaborate their two classes.

Students were particularly interested in flexible furniture for small groups, reading, studying and “cave spaces,” where they can read or study alone.

As shown last week in the Herald, the school purchased different types of desks, chairs and furniture at a discount rate. That was paid with a Bush Foundation Individualized Learning Initiative grant.

“At the end of the day it’s a really good deal and a good use of capital dollars,” Udstuen said. “We’ll be able to use it for a long time.”

Plastic desks with casters on them and separated tables and chairs will make it easier for students to form groups during work time in class.

A comfy couch was placed in the high school hallway (third level) for students to gather before class starts and after lunch.

After this project, the school district will continue to explore individualized learning, such as passion projects, as Erin Becker’s fourth grade class did last year; self-paced curriculum, project-based learning, flexible learning spaces and real world learning opportunities.

Elementary teachers Kelsey Morken and Matt Rosaaen have taken the challenge head on.

“It will look very different to people,” Rosaaen said. “Students create a plan of their own that works for them.”

Morken agreed and said with individualized learning, teachers will not plan their day for them. That will help students with time management and schedules in the future.

The change to individualized learning will happen gradually, Udstuen said. 

Look for more construction updates in future editions of the Herald.