Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Positive Changes in the School House

As I walked down the school house hallway today, I noticed how clean and bright most of our school is. There's been considerable effort in the past year to clean up our school and that has resulted in brighter hallways as well as an updated faculty room and new restroom--may sound crazy, but improvements like that improve morale. Last year our staff room was halved and at every lunch time, people were squished and therefore disgruntled. This year there's ample space, new furniture, and a sink--a place to relax, eat your lunch, and talk with colleagues. Much better!

We have a new restroom too. It's bright and clean. This too is a good change since we don't have to wait in line to use the restroom as much during our really busy days with short breaks. The hallways for the most part are clearer which makes moving from one room to the next easier too.

There's still room for more changes and updates to this old building, and I'm wondering if it's best to make those updates or plan for a new building or elementary campus for the town. To make that decision, there's a lot to consider such as the following:

  • Additional building in town. It seems like our area is becoming more like metro-DC with more apartments and condos rising up. Does this mean more students? And if it does, how will that impact the need for learning space.
  • Traffic is another concern. As our area becomes more populated and busy, traffic increases. How will this affect busses, other transportation, costs, routes, and building needs?
  • There's a push for more modern learning spaces--spaces that look a lot like Boston's Museum of Science--does that push us in the direction of rethinking how an elementary school or campus will look and work. I was on our high school building initial idea team--the process was dynamic and helped the community to reach an awesome result which is a terrific high school learning environment.
  • There's the research of neighborhood schools versus community schools. There was a lot of work done in that regard a few years ago, and before decisions are made, I believe that team needs to meet again to review that research for today's time and a growing community to see if renovation or a new school campus makes sense. 
  • Future-think and long range plans. The community needs to think about space as land is at a premium in this town, and they have to think about the kinds of learning experiences they want for their children. For example, if an elementary school campus were built where I work, we'd have walking access to the high school fields and community pool which could mean some additional positive programming. 
What positive changes are you and your colleagues thinking about with regard to your teaching/learning environment? What good process are you using to make those decisions in inclusive, transparent ways? There's lots to think about as we continue to forward a positive education for every child and community, and that think menu will look somewhat different in every community.