Pilot Program This Fall
The District # 205 Foundation for Educational Excellence unanimously approved to provide $50,000 to help fund the Future Ready Model Classroom project, a pilot program that will create three future ready classrooms at the K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 grade levels. The Foundation will use proceeds earned throughout the year to help fund the project, which began this summer and should be completed in the fall of 2016. Foundation Chair Brian Bresnahan explains, “Our mission states that we are dedicated to innovations in education. Helping to move the District further along the spectrum of Future Ready Learning is definitely something we want to be involved with. I think the community will see the value in it and support us.”
Schools selected for the project are Fischer (Dawin Strelow/kindergarten), Lincoln (Cecilia Dunn/third grade) and Bryan Middle School (Erin Fox/6th grade). In the spring of 2016, all three teachers, along with principals Jane Bailey (Fischer) and Jacquie Discipio(Bryan), as well as Foundation Chair Brian Bresnahan and Executive Director Lisa Fanelli, participated in Future Ready Model Classroom workshops, which were led by Wight and Company, the District’s architects. “You could feel the excitement in the room as teachers and administrators collaborated on a vision for the future that would permanently impact the classroom experience on a daily basis,” said Lisa Fanelli.
Wight & Co was hired by the District as part of a process to develop a long-range Facility Master Plan. Wight has completed a facility study that resulted in an educational alignment guide. Findings and recommendations from this guide will be used to move forward. According to Wight, future ready schools must be “agile” and accommodate small group collaboration, learning commons, hubs for social learning, tech-infused spaces, STEM and maker spaces, as well as addressing safety and security considerations, health and comfort, fitness/wellness and outdoor learning.
“The fact that we received multiple Thiems Grant applications requesting new types of seating options, desks and other furnishings, is evidence that teachers want their classrooms to evolve in order to meet current needs,” said Geri Sorrentino, Foundation Programs Chair and District REACH teacher.
Following the completion of these classrooms, the plan is to gather feedback from participating teachers and students to develop a recommendation toward a District standard for furniture, finishes and integrating classroom technology, as part of a visionary Facility Master Plan. The model classrooms will test and inform that process.