|AGAINST THE TIDE
In sharp contrast to the story told by statistics, many individual urban schools are rising above the weight of their own problems. They demonstrate that imagination, determination and vision can overcome situations that normally would be predictors of failure. Talking about the two-tiered educational system one for the haves and the other for the have-nots, the Philadelphia Inquirer presents an improbable case of the Citys Spring Garden Elementary School. The school draws its poor and mostly African American students from a "tough housing project, a nearby homeless shelter and a drug rehab center." Yet, Spring Gardens "fifth graders scored on a statewide test as well as students at several suburban schools that have little poverty." Spring Garden has strong ties to the neighborhood, a stable teaching staff and an active volunteer parents group. A school facility could easily be designed around the success of Spring Garden and other urban schools. Let these success stories drive the educational and facility program. It is a strong case for moving away from "standards" and "prototypes" in facility design. When it comes to communities, each one is special and there are no shortcuts to the "community school."
Ed Kirkbride Honored
|Breaking Ranks & School Buildings
Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution, a report by NASSP in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation, deals with the revolutionary changes in leadership, teaching and learning that must occur to fully prepare high school students for the 21st century. From a school buildings standpoint, the six themes of Breaking Ranks can be translated thus:
Personalization: This starts with student "houses" no greater than 600, but preferably as small as 400. Houses provide each student with their own work and storage space. Casual spaces wired for technology are provided which facilitate discussions between students and adult advocates. Various learning environments and instructional media accommodate individual learning styles.
Coherency: Interdisciplinary learning replaces the old discipline-based departments. For example, the industrial arts shop is retrofitted to support technology modules. Faculty spaces are designed to encourage collaboration needed to build curriculum models. The entire building encourages real-world, hands-on learning.
Time: The building is used year round and for extended day and weekend programs. Travel time is minimized while informal interaction is maximized.
Technology: Software is integrated into the curriculum using simple, cost-effective and forward-looking solutions. Technology infrastructure is flexible enough to accommodate rapid change. All learning spaces will permit data access.
Professional Development: Each faculty member has data and telephone access. The design facilitates group planning meetings. Learning and conferencing facilities for training are available. Faculty areas encourage interaction and concentration. Family and community members are provided with space to work with students.
Leadership: Administrators are provided with personal space. Spaces are provided for student, parent and business leadership conferences. The buildings layout and decor enhance the schools leadership image.
This material summarizes an article by Ed Kirkbride which appeared in the May/June Issue of The High School Magazine. For the complete article or more information about Breaking Ranks, please contact Ed Kirkbride at : (610) 873-1560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geothermal Energy Heating Up!
"GeoExchange heating and cooling (also referred to as geothermal or ground source)
uses heat pump technology and underground pipes to transfer heat to and from the earth to
the building. Hundreds of schools that use GeoExchange systems have found that this
renewable, Earth-friendly energy source generates considerable savings and comfort,
typically $3.50 worth of energy for every dollar spent."
For an interesting school case study, check out the Neff Elementary School project built in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. More information on this and other projects can be found at the above web site or call David E. Anstrand, at the Manheim Township School District (717) 560-3095.