The new Barbara Fasken and Barbara B. Yarbrough Elementary schools are designed for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. These schools have 35 general classrooms, special classrooms, a gymnasium, a cafeteria/commons with a stage, a media center/library and other core areas to expand project-based learning areas and further enhance technology and fine arts educational opportunities. These characteristics are based on 21st Century Learning concepts. Both elementary schools are part of a Midland ISD 2012 bond program.

Early planning centered on a traditional pedagogy and double-loaded classroom corridors. PSC planners offered a presentation of their own corporate research project, SoFIA. Soon, other possibilities to deliver MISD’s curriculum came into focus, including team teaching, student and educator collaboration, social space, and learning through performance and outdoor learning. A series of design charrettes including PSC architects, MISD administrators, school board trustees and principals were held. The groups planned their concepts using computer-generated mass models resulting in the development of multiple concepts including pedestrian/vehicular traffic with drop-off lanes and outdoor space. These collaborative charrettes were instrumental in developing quick ideas that generated consensus among the stakeholders.

Each grade has its own “neighborhood” that includes a multi-purpose instructional area (MPIA), 2 to 5 classrooms, a teacher co-lab space and a one-on-one meeting room. The educators chose to have permanent partitions separating the classrooms from the MPIA – a space similar to the learning hubs in some of the DoDEA 21C schools. The general classrooms within the learning neighborhoods have the flexibility to pair with other adjacent classrooms by retracting acoustically rated folding walls. This flexibility allows teachers the ability to team teach multiple classrooms or subjects. In the one-on-one rooms, a teacher can work with an individual student for tutoring or counseling, give a test or work with a small group of students on a project

Each of the pre-K through fifth-grade neighborhoods is located adjacent to the media center, the academic focal point of each school. The commons and gym are designed so that the two large spaces can open up to one another for additional room during larger functions and performances.

Each campus has an outdoor learning area with fixed seating with direct access from the learning neighborhoods.