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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

The Impact of Brain Compatible Learning Presently the student population has shifted from predominantly African-American in 2000 to predominantly Hispanic in 2012. Today, addressing the needs of the school’s growing LEP (Limited English Proficiency) student population is the primary focus. Have-It-All Elementary is one of 16 district elementary schools located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in a town of 76,200 residents (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Even though a large land grant university with 46,618 students (Texas A&M University, 2012) is located in a nearby sister city, most children in this part of town have never visited the university campus. Over-all state test scores have consistently remained above the state average from 2003 to 2011. In 2010, the state test (TAKS) passing average was 77% while Have-It-All Elementary’s 2010 passing rate was 79% (Texas Education Agency, 2012). The school represents the surrounding community’s best efforts in providing an exceptional education in the best learning environment possible. Building a school that fostered BCL principles was not only a community choice, it was a community demand. This particular elementary school has support from several near-by community churches and organizations. Inclusion of a Boys and Girls Club facility with a park and playground adjoining Have-it-All Elementary were part of the architectural plan. An important variable to note is that leadership has been consistent from the school’s inception to present day with the same principal, who led the community effort for the school construction, still at the helm. This facility, the newest of the three in the study, is a 15-year old school specifically designed with the tenets of brain compatible learning in mind. It was built on the site where one of the first community schools stood for over 50 years. The facility features murals and sculptured figures representing the seven continents of Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North American, and South America. The 12 acre site was the location of a junior- senior high school built in 1931. After a fire destroyed much of the original building in 1970, the remaining structure served a variety of different programs. In 1997 the surrounding community wanted a new school on this site. Like the town of Joplin, Missouri, the community surrounding Have-it-All Elementary School did not want just a basic replacement facility. The school board in conjunction with members of the surrounding Have-it-All Elementary community selected school designs that reflected current research on the effect of environment on learning. Interestingly, the majority of the faculty had little if any input into the facility design. They knew little to nothing about BCL until the school administrator, several community members, and two members of the faculty attended a workshop two years prior to the school’s construction. The school entrance opens into a large open foyer with three hallways. Panning the room from a clockwise direction, you see the reception area at 9 o’clock on the left and a corridor leading to a pod of classrooms, kindergarten through 1st grade, at the 11 o’clock position. Moving straight ahead at the 12 o’clock positionis a wide-open corridor leading to the library. On either side of the corridor is a conference area for volunteers, a computer lab, and a teacher work/training room. At the 1 o’clock position from the foyeris a glass enclosed atrium with patio furniture and umbrella. The room is used for “lunch with the principal” or as a special meeting place for students to hang out. At the 3 o’clock positionis a corridor to the cafeteria/ multiuse room. The corridor has a hand painted scene that illustrates the concept of visual perspective. Depending upon if you are walking from the cafeteria to the foyer or walking to the cafeteria from the foyer you visually think you are walking uphill. No matter where you are in the building the architecture either beckons or provides spaces for engagement in learning. The walls and structures within structures are eye candy. For example, the library has an 8x10 room December 2012 / ACEF 44


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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