I was principal of West Elementary School from 2005 to 2019, and before that I was an assistant principal and teacher at the school. West is a wonderful learning community of hardworking students, dedicated teachers and engaged families.
The building, however, is old and presents many barriers to 21st century education.
The classrooms provide limited space for teaching and learning. The teachers are constrained when planning groupings for teamwork, differentiated instruction and collaboration. These activities have been delegated to heavily traveled corridors.
Students using accommodations such as “speech to text” sit out in the hallway for “privacy.” Opportunities for co-taught classes and grade-level gatherings have been limited due to space constraints.
On-the-spot alterations to science lessons are challenging when storage of materials is in closets in another part of the school. In addition, there are no private breakout spaces near classrooms for students who need small group work with the teacher or specific direct special education services.
All teachers conduct daily progress monitoring, and there is limited privacy for the teacher and student to engage in a one-on-one interaction. Students must travel to another part of the building for speech, reading or occupational therapy services. Some of these services are provided in spaces that are the size of closets or are actual closets.
The current Makerspace is carved out of a portion of the media center and does not provide adequate space for innovative science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics learning experiences. We are unable to provide spaces for students to work collaboratively on design thinking and novel engineering projects, either in classrooms or in the Makerspace.
Breakout spaces create the atmosphere needed for students to work toward collaborative solutions while also developing higher order thinking and problem-solving skills.
We need spaces that will help students go beyond learning curriculum and towards becoming critical thinkers and designers, and innovative and creative citizens. A new West El will provide this opportunity.
I hope your readers will join me in supporting this project at Town Meeting on June 5 and at the ballot box on June 15.
Elizabeth M. G. Roos