Teachers debate proposed classroom design | NevadaAppeal.com

Teachers debate proposed classroom design

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

Teachers wandered through taped-in boundaries, rearranging desks and muttering questions such as, “I wonder where I’d put my bookshelves.”

The lines of tape marked where classroom walls would stand if a proposed design of the addition to Bordewich-Bray Elementary School is adopted.

The design, referred to as the “Nevada Plan,” features a cluster of classrooms, some shaped like the Silver State.

“I’m just trying to visualize how to utilize the space,” said first-grade teacher Eileen Jansse. “I’m working on it. Right now, I would lean more toward a square classroom, but I’m seeing how this would work.”

Mike Mitchell, director of operations for the Carson City School District, set up the model classrooms inside the school’s multi-purpose room Wednesday afternoon to give teachers a tangible look at the proposed design and get their comments.

“We are discussing like crazy,” he said.

Although many teachers are wary of the unconventional design, others embrace it.

Second-grade teacher Susan Peterson visited Pi-on Hills Elementary School in Minden, which has a similar design.

“I walked into the room at the narrow end and it opened out wide,” she said. “It felt like it drew you in. The design is more inviting as a whole and more interesting.”

The proposed design is one of two options for the addition, funded through a $3.75 million bond issue approved in November’s election. It will replace five modulars, which were demolished after three types of toxic mold were discovered in the walls.

The second option is a long corridor with traditional square classrooms on each side.

Mitchell said the cluster design of the Nevada Plan uses space and energy more efficiently.

Architect Brad Van Woert was on hand Wednesday to answer questions and take suggestions. His firm has designed several Washoe County schools, but this is the first time he has consulted teachers.

“We’re trying to make it a little more personal experience for these guys,” he said. “Bordewich-Bray is a pretty unique school. It’s been here for a long time and the teachers have worked here for a long time. They have as many good ideas as I do.”

But it’s not always easy to compromise the various ideas.

“This process is not vanilla,” Van Woert joked. “This is rocky road.”

Seeing the classroom laid out helped teachers put the design into perspective, Principal Sue Keema said.

“Everybody learns differently,” she said. To see it on paper works for some, but to put it in our own space lets people talk about it and see how it would really look.”

Work is scheduled to begin in August, with completion expected this time next year.