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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Zellner Morris Burch 1. Do you believe the school facility contributes to school success? Principals and their teachers were asked this question at all three-school sites. At Have- it-All Elementary student and teacher attendance is at a 98% average which the principal attributes to the steady increase in state test scores over the past six years (2006-2012). She noted, Pride in our school, by both our teachers and students, is what matters. I have to believe that the pride we have in our school building somewhat contributed to our success and our student performance. Our school has become the hub of our community! We are proud to have a state of the art school in this part of town. Teachers describe the Have-It-All Elementary facility as comfortable and challenging to the mind. One teacher said, “The very nature of its design creates levels of comfort for the children and doesn’t have that factory look about it.” Several teachers indicated that “. . . higher levels of thinking by students are possibly due to the comfort, space, and safety of the school.” As noted by a teacher team leader, “The school is designed very well for movement and learning. The traffic pattern and space allows us to work and move from area to area without disruption or inconvenience to others.” According to the principal at International-With-A-Facelift, “We have made great progress in retrofitting our campus to reflect our learning philosophy. Yes, having space and an atmosphere conducive to learning is bound to affect learning. I truly believe this.” When asked this same question, the principal at Over-the Hill Elementary said, “When you work and learn in an environment that is inviting and comfortable, you probably will be able to concentrate more on learning. I think the on-going remodeling we are doing is improving the learning for our students.” Teachers at Over-The-Hill Elementary described it as an egg carton school that tried to be a cathedral. The six teachers who voluntarily participated in the interviews did not link facility improvement to their students’ achievement. Instead they linked school success to the hard work teachers were doing to help students achieve within the limitations of the facility. The addition of spaces for collaboration among teachers and students was viewed to be beneficial, but not the sole reason for the schools’ success. As one teacher said, “We teachers love the work spaces. It is what we are able to accomplish in these spaces that counts. Our teachers are the ones making a difference with our students.” Classroom observations by the researchers confirmed this. An art teacher, a second grade teacher, two first grade dual language teachers, and a reading specialist were among those interviewed. These particular teachers had worked on this campus during the school’s transition fromthree grade levels to six grade levels (Pre-K–5th). Most teachers at Over-The-Hill are certified in one or more specialization fields. Certifications included, ESL, Bi-lingual Education, reading, and/or special education. Emphasis on the number of highly trained staff was viewed to be the predominant reason for the school’s success, not the facility. 2. Do you believe that the school facility effects teacher, student, and surrounding community attitudes? Perceptions of the facility, and its impact on student learning and teacher instruction, were another predominant topic covered during teacher interviews at each school site. The staff at Have-It-All Elementary said they believed that construction of the school facility has had a 49 Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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