The Design Plan
When considering how to advance their schools into 21st Century Learning, the Topeka School District began the task of creating combined schools that housed multiple grade levels. For the Jardine Elementary School, this progressive development meant that they would build a new school, combining students from three neighborhood elementary locations.
Principal Angela Soper had a plan that came to fruition with the development of flexible seating options in each classroom, and discovery areas sprinkled throughout the facility. At the heart of her plan was giving the students the ability to choose which furnishings fit their daily activities as well as their individual style of learning. Each day, they are offered choices – from the chair they sit in, to the hallway learning they partake in, to the discovery areas that they utilize. These choices empower the students and allow them to focus and learn in the manner that best suits their capabilities.
Through the design process, Soper wanted to establish a space that encouraged collaboration and taught self-management. The students are encouraged to arrange and rearrange furniture in the discovery areas to make it comfortable for the task they are working on, but are reminded to move furniture back to where they found it. This self-management grants them the power to make learning comfortable and fun, but they are also learning to be responsible and respectful.
Kids love choices,
so flexible seating
allows them freedom
to choose what works for them and they have
ownership of their learning space.
Angela Soper, Jardine Elementary School Principal