The new classrooms at Churchill School are bright and airy with fun colored furniture. Teachers say the spaces add much to the specials programs at the Homewood school.
But these four classrooms are not part of the school building. The board agreed to a three-year lease of mobiles that are parked on asphalt that was part of the playground behind the building at 1300 190th St. The space is fenced in, and building and mobile access is by special security code.
From the outside, it looks like any other mobile – plain brown, a few steps to the entry door. But inside, the layout is inviting. Classrooms to the left and right of the door are for technology and social/emotional learning classes, with two other practice classrooms for music students.
“It’s been great to see the kids excited about it, too. We consider it an annex. It’s worked out really well,” Churchill Principal Nikki Kerr said.
She had conversations with staff and building leadership on how best to use the space. It was decided specials — programs outside of reading, math and social studies — were important for the students.
Technology, which had been replaced by STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) needed to be part of the curriculum again. And, social/emotional learning was added to the Churchill curriculum this year.
Churchill School has all it can handle with nine classrooms each for third, fourth and fifth graders. Before the mobile unit was opened in November, students got technology instruction but it required Elissa Hastings, the technology teacher, to put the devices on a cart and rotate between homerooms. Now the students come to her classroom in the mobile.
“I love it out here. It’s a great space and the kids really like being out here, too,” Hastings said. “They’re using a lot of brain power to try to figure out how to type. I’ve seen improvements since the beginning of the school year.”
“It’s really, really worked out well for us, and the needs of our programming,” Kerr said. “It’s been a great transition for us.”
Churchill added a social/emotional learning component this year that found a home in the mobile space.
“They can be rowdy at times because everybody’s got different opinions and perspectives, but I think the good thing is they’re at an age group now where they can set goals for themselves, hear other people’s opinions, respect them if they disagree,” explained teacher Aleasa Williamson who has structured the classes to give third, fourth and fifth graders their own look at life and how their individual world fits into the greater whole.
The new desks allow for flexible seating so students can work collaboratively in groups. The classrooms can accommodate a maximum of 30 students, although they haven’t reach that number, Kerr said.
The music spaces are a real bonus, Kerr said. Before the mobiles, students were practicing in the gym.