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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Zellner Morris Burch the student population, and the building should be clean, light, and well maintained. (p. 22) Carol Venolia (1988), Healing Environments, notes that disharmony in a place can be a source of physical and mental stress. Martha Kaufeldt (2009) also supports this notion with her view that “brain compatible learning environments are places where students’ curiosities are not piqued with potential anxiety, frustration, or confusion. Instead they are places where annoyance is diminished and curiosity is celebrated” (p. 133). Further, Robert Sylwester (2000) noted that the challenge is to create a stimulating space that gets, “as close as possible to the natural environment to which our brain is innately tuned” (p. 93). All three researchers in this study passionately agreed that the physical environment plays an important part in teacher instruction and student learning. Let’s now take yet a closer look at the school sites that incorporated BCL in their philosophical vision. The School Sites under the Microscope The three elementary schools in this study were situated in central Texas in two adjoining school districts. Two of the selected school sites were located in the most impoverished sections of a mid-sized east Texas town. The third site, another older school facility served a diverse population of students from low to middle income homes. None of the three sites had similar blue prints in design, but each site catered to a similar philosophical vision of what the school box should be. Like Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson, the researchers looked for connections between teaching, learning, and application of BCL philosophy within the selected three sites. Researchers and participants alike agreed that pseudo names for the schools should be used so more open discussions could take place! Sites included: 1. Have-It-All Elementary, a facility built from the ground up with the BCL philosophy at its core. 2. International-With-A-Facelift Elementary, a 1960s single story egg carton facility design retrofitted to reflect the BCL philosophy; and 3. Over-The-Hill Elementary, another early 1960 single story egg carton facility design modified to incorporate some of the tenets of BCL. Have-It-All Elementary. In 2011, of the 488 students who attend Have-It-All Elementary, 26% are African American, 69% Hispanic/bilingual, and 3% White & Other. Schools are ranked according to how students scored on the Texas basic skills tests, TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). The student population meets the criteria for economically disadvantaged and has shown little fluctuation in status (90-96%) over the last 15 years. Increased test scores are attributed to the school’s almost perfect attendance average from 2002-2011. Even though Have-It-All Elementary is considered to be in a low socio-economic area with limited resources, the school was awarded for its “Recognized” status in 2004 and 2010 and its “Exemplary” status in 2009 and 2011 (Texas Education Agency, 2012). The surrounding neighborhood is noted for its high crime rate, neglected neighborhoods, and streets in need of repair. However, vandalism has been nonexistent in this school since its opening day 15 years ago. Student achievement and attendance has remained high for over 12 years. This accomplishment is in spite of the many challenges the school faces every day. 43 Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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