For eighth-grader Tyler Nelson, the new building addition at Shaw Road Elementary School in Puyallup gave him “futuristic vibes.”
The recent renovations made the school feel much different than he remembered before he left it two years ago to attend Kalles Junior High.
“It’s modern, it’s updated,” Tyler said as he scoped out the new classroom of his sister, fifth-grader Breanna.
After a year of construction, the Shaw Road Elementary Addition project was completed last month and revealed to the public in a ribbon-cutting last week.
Separate from the bond passed by the district in 2015, the $7.3 million project was part of an effort to reduce class sizes at Shaw Road. The addition connects to the existing building, spanning 16,000 square feet, and features 12 new classrooms, six project rooms and a host of new technology.
The completion of the project brings Shaw Road’s number of classrooms to 32 and provides its 671 students with new learning spaces — saying goodbye to on-site portables.
“It means we have fewer students in temporary housing,” district communications director Brian Fox said. “Our goal is to get all of our students in permanent housing.”
Shaw Road’s portables will be transferred for use at other schools in the district.
“Out of 21 elementary schools, (Shaw Road) is the only one that won’t have portables,” said Mario Casello, the district’s chief operations officer.
Out of 21 elementary schools, (Shaw Road) is the only one that won’t have portables.
Mario Casello, chief operations officer
Inside each new classroom are two computer monitors, one at the front of the classroom, which is interactive, and one at the back of the classroom.
“We want to have more flexibility so we can accommodate those different groups,” Casello said.
Students will also receive their own laptops for use in class as part of the district’s 1:1 Program, which transitions students from textbooks to digital learning. The district is rolling out the program grade by grade.
Each classroom also has a “project room”— a side room that connects classrooms, so two classes can collaborate on projects together. It can also be used as place where paraeducators can work with groups independently.
Tyler’s mother, Sandy, thinks the design will be helpful for students.
“If teachers want to move on with the lesson but some students need more time, they can work back here,” she said. “... It’s warm and inviting.”
Each classroom also consists of different desks: tables that seat several students, independent desks that are mobile and can be rearranged into small groups, and a tall table for students who learn better while standing.
“It accommodates a variety of learning styles for individual students,” Fox said.
Fourth grade teacher Theresa Schmidt has worked at Shaw Road for four years and said both the staff and students are excited — if a little overwhelmed — by the renovations.
It’s cool to see the technology, but there is a learning curve that goes with it. We want to incorporate that technology in a meaningful way.
Theresa Schmidt, fourth grade teacher at Shaw Road Elementary
“It’s cool to see the technology, but there is a learning curve that goes with it,” Schmidt said. “We want to incorporate that technology in a meaningful way.”
At the back of Shaw Road now sits a brand new playground. Another playground is being installed with help from the Shaw Road PTA.
At the center of Shaw Road, where before was just grass, is a brand new courtyard that will serve as an outdoor learning space. Staff and students worked with gardener Ed Hume to beautify the space with plants and flowers this month. Lowe’s in Puyallup donated labor and supplies for the project.
Now, Shaw Road Elementary serves as the finished product that Hunt Elementary can expect next year. Construction started this year that will bring the same 12-classroom addition and technology to the school, which serves approximately 650 students.
The $6.2 million project uses funds that were freed up from the district’s bond after the district made the decision to reduce the 44-homeroom project for Pope Elementary to a 32-homeroom project.
Construction will be ongoing at Hunt throughout the school year and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2018.
“When things get tough, go down to Shaw Road and take a look because that what you’ll be getting,” said Hunt Elementary Principal Rebecca Williams at the groundbreaking on Aug. 29.
In the coming years, Northwood, Firgrove and Sunrise elementary schools will see renovations, in addition to the new elementary school coming in 2019.