The new Galleria-area campus for the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School (MIMS) is nearing completion, and construction crews are working hard to ensure that the building is all set to welcome students for the first day of school on Monday.
Part of the district’s current bond program, the $32.2 million school, located in the 5400 block of W. Alabama adjacent to the School at St. George Place, is one of HISD’s most popular magnet programs, with more than eight applications for every available spot. It draws students from all parts of the district and is one of HISD’s most diverse schools, but it long ago outgrew its initial location on the former Gordon Elementary campus in Bellaire.
Like HISD’s other dual language schools that teach Spanish and Arabic, MIMS alternates instruction between English and Mandarin Chinese, teaching in one language for the first half of the day and in the other for the second half. This year, the school will educate students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, adding one grade level per year to eventually grow into a pre-K through 8th-grade campus.
“I am delighted with the new facility, which brings the students and teachers of this highly successful school up to HISD’s current districtwide building standard,” said HISD Trustee Harvin Moore, who represents the school and recently toured the new construction. “I’m also proud of the beautiful design, which resulted from the involvement of parents, faculty and community members in the planning and design process from the start. The building is gorgeous, and will be an icon not only of our focus on rigorous education, but our pride in the diversity of our city and our commitment to turning our students into global graduates.”
The school was designed around a sun and moon concept with brightly colored learning spaces and academic areas located in the sun wing, which represents energy. The common areas and community spaces, including the cafeteria and gymnasium, will be aligned in the moon wing, which is more subtle and symbolizes reflection. The building, which is expected to qualify for Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, also features a soaring, three-story atrium, which houses the central library and learning commons area and is capped by an oval clerestory, which reaches about 60 feet in the air and contains a series of windows to allow for plenty of natural light.
As the school grows to its final enrollment of 900 students, the new 119,000-square-foot building will be able to accommodate future programming changes through its flexible design, including the learning commons area, which can double as a classroom or lab.
“It will be great to start the new school year in our new building,” said MIMS Principal Chao-Lin Chang. “There is still some last-minute work being done by our construction crew, and probably some punch-list items will be ongoing into next month. But we will be ready for students to start school on August 22.”
The new location adjacent to the School at St. George Place allows for the two campuses to share significantly more sports fields and green space than either school would have individually.