Katherine Smith Elementary also unveils new administration and classroom wing
Sherman Elementary School students admired the smart boards and cubby spaces and helped sharpen pencils on Monday as teachers prepared to start class for the first time at their new building.
“It’s awesome because it’s all new,” said fourth-grader Xavier Cegueda, who was met with hugs and smiles from school administrators and staff who helped students find their new classroom.
The school, located at 1909 McKee Street northeast of downtown Houston, is the last of 23 schools to be built with funds from the 2007 bond program. The new campus was designed to be a sustainable 21st century learning environment with flexible, open spaces and new technology for up to 750 students.
“It’s brighter and more open,” said first grade teacher Beverly Banda. “We have more storage space, and I love that we have a smart board in every classroom, too.”
The two-story, 85,000-square-foot facility features red, blue and yellow learning spaces with modern school furniture and more windows to bring natural light into instructional and administrative areas. The building includes 35 classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, rooftop gardens, music and art rooms, two science labs and a computer lab with 34 workstations.
“The upgrades are wonderful,” said parent Hema Caballero as she walked around the school with her fifth-grade son, Axel, who described the new campus as “shinier.”
Not far away, students and staff at Katherine Smith Elementary School were also excited about a new addition at their campus, which includes a 41,998-square-foot administrative and classroom wing for the 900-student school. The expansion was funded by the 2007 bond program.
“It is exciting moving here in the new building after being out in the T village for so long,” said writing teacher Kimberly Kiser, who has taught for six years at Smith. “We’re embarking on new opportunities. The kids walk into these fabulous classrooms and it’s amazing to them.”
The original building for Sherman was built in 1967 and was one of the oldest schools in the city before consolidating with Crawford Elementary School.
“As a principal, my dream was to someday open a brand-new school, and here we are,” said Sherman Principal Amelia Cardenas-Aguilar.
Her favorite part of the new school is the library, which sits in the center of the school and will serve as a resource to students as well as parents and the neighboring community.
“It looks and feels like a university library,” Cardenas-Aguilar said. “I love all this new technology the building has, too, especially since we’re living in a time when 2- and 3-year-old kids are already playing with smartphones and iPads. Having all this technology at their fingertips will enhance and inspire student learning.”
The school also features rooftop gardens, where students will plant vegetables and be able to undertake hands-on learning projects.
“That’s just another way to use the building as a learning tool because it becomes an outdoor science lab,” said the school’s architect Martin Needle of Collaborate Architects. “It’s always exciting to see a school open after going through the whole design process from concept to completion. The community is finally getting the school they’ve been waiting on.”
Katherine Smith Elementary School parent Kimberly Butler, who has a kindergarten-age daughter attending the school, said she believes her daughter’s learning will improve in the new space.
“I asked my daughter how she felt today, and she said, ‘I feel happy,’” Butler said.