Ernest P. Barka Elementary School
The design for the Ernest P. Barka Elementary School grew out of the concept that an elementary classroom is a multifunctional space with many demands for which the traditional 30′ x 30′ room might not be the optimal configuration. With this as the starting point, we developed a 2-classroom unit that incorporates a pair of toilets at the younger grades and a folding wall at the upper grades allowing the two rooms to be opened to each other to encourage and facilitate teachers working together or to provide more space for one classroom should the adjoining room be vacant. To provide spaces better suited to an array of activities each classroom is composed of four interlocking areas:
- The linoleum entry alcove containing cubbies and coat hooks which keeps coat clutter and muddy shoes out of the classroom proper.
- The carpeted main teaching space with desks or tables and chairs, the teacher’s station and a computer counter along the corridor wall with a built-in TV cabinet and a 32″ TV which serves as a monitor for the teacher’s computer.
- The linoleum-floored project area bay which contains a sink, storage cabinetry and shelving, extended window sill counter tops for plant growing curricula and , in many cases, a folding wall which allows two adjoining rooms to be opened to each other creating an 800 square foot space with two sinks and a tremendous amount of daylight.
- Perhaps the most teacher-appreciated component of the rooms: a dedicated storage room directly adjacent to every classroom with floor to ceiling metal shelving on all walls. The need for this space is obvious in most elementary classrooms with piles of Rubbermaid tote bins stacked many feet high on top of cabinetry or against various walls. The sheer volume of supplies required to be housed in an elementary classroom often makes the remaining space inefficient or unusable.
These four areas create a teaching space that is specific enough to remain organized yet flexible enough to allow a wide range of activities to take place. The spaces are further enhanced by large, high windows, direct/indirect lighting, varied ceiling materials and heights and state of the art mechanical systems and controls.
The beautiful wooded setting in which the school was built was carefully analyzed prior to laying out the building which allowed us to preserve many clusters of oaks and blueberry bush ground cover which brings nature into every classroom and sets the tone for the school as a serene and peaceful place.