It’s move-in week for Shiloh Henderson and her teacher colleagues at brand-new Genesee Hill Elementary, where the September 6th dedication day is now less than four weeks away. The new school housing what had been the Schmitz Park Elementary program could have more than 700 students by the time classes start on September 7th, principal Gerrit Kischner tells WSB.
History will be honored at that spot in the spacious entrance area – the bricks are from the old Genesee Hill school, demolished to make way for this one, and the squares will hold tiles from Schmitz Park. A plaque here will honor the history of what led to the new campus, which, we noticed while visiting, is full of light:
That’s the library, where books from Schmitz Park were awaiting unpacking, with additions on the way. Also in the library:
Little nooks like that one await the youngest readers. Around the school, everything’s been designed to be age- and intent-specific … the tables in the cafeteria, for example, will be round, to facilitate conversation – no more shouting down a rectangular row:
The cafeteria is adjacent to the gym and the stage, and each area can be separated from the rest:
The school has so many distinct areas, it doesn’t have the “huge school” feel some worried it might have:
That’s the covered play area, which has skylights to let in some brightness even on a rainy day. The new (uncovered) play equipment isn’t far away:
That all opens onto a courtyard which also includes the 59-step staircase down to the staff parking lot:
You might have noticed the trees in that view – the site retained many of them, including a huge old elm. It keeps the new school from feeling stark. Lots of warm touches inside, too:
The fox, you probably know, is the Schmitz Park, and now Genesee Hill, mascot. It’s also featured in some of the forest murals on inside walls. And we spotted another friendly creature in a classroom:
Furnishings make a big difference. Also being set up, autism inclusion classrooms:
Right outside is a turfed half-circle area that will be a sensory-focused play area. The school has three distinct areas, but all have common touches such as the big windows we’ve mentioned – here’s the nurse’s office:
The entry area:
And if you’re waiting to, say, meet with the principal, you might end up in this seating area:
The classrooms are in a three-story tower, two grades per level. Lots of setup for teachers to do – Julie Pietsch was getting some help:
The classrooms are clustered in pods, four around an area where they can gather for shared lessons.
Science and art classrooms will have rotating uses – there’s even a kiln:
When school starts on September 7th, Genesee Hill will have five classes in each grade from kindergarten through 3rd, four classes in 4th grade, and three in 5th. Principal Kischner says the bus and dropoff zone is on 51st, but they’re not expecting many buses, because so many of the students are in the walk zone and not eligible for yellow-bus transportation.
Meantime, the moving-in will continue over the next few weeks. You can get a firsthand look inside the new space at an open house that will follow the ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 6th – many more details to come.