With overwhelming support from the community and a vision to improve every educational space in the district, Jal Public Schools passed their 2015 bond by 78 percent. The bond included plans for replacing the existing Jal Elementary School with a new 450-student traditional elementary school placed at the existing elementary school site.

Jal Elementary School Ribbon Cutting from Parkhill, Smith & Cooper on Vimeo.

When PSC joined the team, the teachers and administrative staff were challenged to visit other schools, develop pros and cons lists, and incorporate their findings into a community forum. The teachers, administration and the community quickly realized that their current spaces were not accommodating the changing needs of future learners. Double-loaded corridors and other traditional learning spaces, such as the stand-alone library, were not preparing students for the jobs of the future. With PSC facilitating the conversations, the district envisioned a variety of technologically-rich environments that would enable students to safely learn and grow based on their own personal learning needs.

As a result, the new school was designed with four learning neighborhoods that allow each classroom access to a commons space for project work, collaboration, self-based learning and one-on-one instruction. The Pre-K neighborhood has a smaller commons that is used as a life skills space to teach the basics of properly cooking, eating and cleaning up after themselves. The Kindergarten, 1st-2nd and 3rd-5th grade neighborhoods are set up more similarly to media centers with access to physical books, technology and a wide range of furniture to help facilitate the ever-changing learning needs of students.

“To be inside the building is like having a dream realized. It started out to where we just kind of thought about it, but now that we get to experience all the learning opportunities that the building has afforded us, it’s been amazing.”

Betty Robinson, Jal Principal