Appleton is set to build a new elementary school and make improvements to existing schools with funds approved by voters in a recent referendum. The aim is to enhance educational opportunities for students and address issues like class sizes and curriculum. Although detailed designs are yet to be finalized, the Appleton Area School District has given the public an idea of what the new school might look like.
Here are some key points:
Location of the New Elementary School
The district plans to construct the new elementary school on its property in the city’s northeast. The site, located between Edgewood Drive and Lightning Drive near Appleton North High School and Appleton Fire Department Station 6, offers enough space for not just one, but potentially two schools. While the referendum only approved one new elementary school, the district intends to keep room for future expansion.
Possible Grade-Level Pods
The district is considering implementing a pod concept for the new elementary school, drawing inspiration from schools like Baird Elementary in Green Bay and the Friendship Learning Center in North Fond du Lac. Each grade level would have its own wing, with classrooms surrounding a shared central space. This area would provide various seating options and opportunities for collaborative learning. The classrooms would feature different sizes and glass walls that allow supervision while students transition between spaces. Additionally, there would be a teacher planning center, lockers near the playground entrance, and smaller rooms for one-on-one or small group meetings with teachers or specialists. The flexibility of this design would allow for adjustments based on each year’s class sizes.
Involvement of Classroom Teachers
The current planning team for the project consists of elementary principals, directors from the assessment, curriculum and instruction department, as well as staff from special education and English language learner programs. Classroom teachers have not yet been included in the discussions as the team is focusing on general concepts. However, once more concrete plans are developed, teachers and the community will have the opportunity to provide feedback.
Hiring STEM Staff
Appleton is already taking steps to hire staff dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Job openings for middle school STEM paraprofessionals and three STEM elementary teachers have been posted. The elementary teachers will work with multiple schools and spend a year developing and piloting STEM projects and activities. Originally, the district planned to hire the remaining STEM teachers once the STEM classrooms open in 2025-26. However, due to the high level of excitement around STEM, these positions will be posted earlier next spring to ensure they are filled in time for the fall of 2024.
For more information, contact AnnMarie Hilton at [email protected] or 920-370-8045. You can also follow her on Twitter at @hilton_annmarie.