With repeatedly failed referendums, decreasing budgets and deteriorating facilities, this District had been pushed to its limit. The Superintendent’s creative actions sparked a student-led effort to rally the community in support of a new school – a school that wouldn’t even be completed in time for these particular students to attend. Successful in their efforts, the students illustrated the power of engaging their community to collaboratively achieve what neither could have done alone.
Schiller Park’s new Lincoln Middle School is an excellent example of facilities that were planned and designed to enhance the ability to provide students with 21st century skills. Lincoln Middle School is a replacement school, built on the same site as the original school, now demolished.
When asked, students wanted connections to the outdoors, spaces to hang out, opportunities to perform and display their work, better connections with their teachers, project-based activities, technology everywhere, comfortable environments, good food, and relevance in their education. Teachers wished to reach more students, have space and time for collaborative planning, use technology in meaningful ways, and enjoy where they work. The administrators wanted a safe and secure environment, welcoming atmosphere for parental and community partnerships, elimination of bullying and vandalism, efficient, durable and maintainable facilities, and adequate supports for all students and staff. The community wanted a school that would prepare their children for success in life, a community facility they could use and be proud of, and they wanted their tax dollars to be spent wisely.
The resulting facility supports all of these requests, and is a dynamic model for team teaching and exploratory learning at the middle school level. It includes rich connections to the outdoors, even in an urban environment, through green roofs, plazas and a roof deck accessed through the media center so that students can read outside, while also recognizing the importance of sustainability.
Firm’s Responsibility: BrainSpaces served as the educational planning and design consultant, engaging students and community members in defining and realizing goals for the future of SD81 students. BrainSpaces led the interior design, environmental graphics planning, and completed the entire furniture and furnishings package.