As educational models evolve over time, flexibility is key in supporting new ideas and programmatic approaches. At Valley Park Elementary, a new six-classroom addition is completely adaptable, and by pulling back a few glass walls or raising several garage doors, the space can quickly convert into a large, open area when needed. Once open, the central collaboration space is filled with daylight from skylights above, inviting students and staff to challenge the boundary of the classroom and explore ideas in new ways. Within this area, gender neutral restrooms create a feeling of inclusivity and access to a maker space invites a mindset of innovation and creativity for every student.
Classrooms are designed with a reduced square footage (600-650 sq ft) to encourage use of the flexible walls and adjacent collaboration space. To support the smaller footprint, flexibility within the classrooms was paramount. In each classroom, there is no fixed learning wall. Instead, a monitor can be moved to any location in the room, orienting the focus of digital content in a variety of ways. A small, fixed facilitator docking station cuts down on the floor space taken up by a traditional desk and completely flexible furniture ensures that maximum space for learning in the classroom is realized. To aid in this approach, student storage is located in the collaboration space, freeing up valuable square footage and maintaining transparency. The high level of visibility is complemented with a focus on staff and student safety through the use of small breakout spaces that can be used as an area of refuge, as well as daily small group space for students to share with their teammates. Valley Park’s classrooms and collaboration spaces alike are lively and dynamic, creating a supportive tool for learning and evolution of practice over time.
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