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Students at elementary campuses across the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District could soon be entering transformed learning spaces.

On January 9, lead teachers from the district’s 17 elementary schools and a design committee comprised of teachers, staff, and administrators attended an expo that showcased the modern classroom. There they were tasked with reviewing new furniture and technology for the district’s elementary classrooms.

The aim of the event was to allow teachers, administrators, and staff to try out the furniture, and its features and afterward provide feedback based on a list of criteria.

Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos spoke to the group about the impact their decision will have on elementary students throughout the district.

“We want our students to have a great learning environment that inspires them to produce their very best,” said Dr. Art Cavazos. “Our design committee has been charged with choosing the best learning platform for our students – a space that is modernized and conducive to Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication, also known as the 4 C’s. We thank the committee for being the voice of our students, and we thank our Harlingen community for their support. This project wouldn’t be possible without them and the passing of the Tax Ratification.”

With the 4 C’s in mind, committee members zeroed in on modular furniture that could be easily reconfigured for various group sizes and activities.

“I’m looking for furniture that allows for some creativity; perhaps something students could write on,” said Roland Ingram, Principal at Treasure Hills Elementary, signaling to a desk with a whiteboard surface. “That’s the kind of space we are talking about. Right now we improvise some of the things you see here. We are affixing whiteboard material to the tops of existing desks, and we are arranging desks in ways they are not meant to be arranged. So there is definitely a need and a desire to collaborate.”

Realizing the need to bring classrooms into the 21st century, Board President Dr. Nolan Perez is increasingly focused on how classroom setups can enhance collaboration.

“We have to create active learning platforms and change the pedagogy to facilitate collaboration,” said Dr. Perez. “Every facet, every industry, and every job nowadays requires collaboration. Modernizing what is in the learning space is conducive to those 4 C’s. I think this is only going to further inspire our students to open up their minds and to take learning to much deeper levels.”

A recommendation will be made in February, and then the project will then go out for bids.

The rollout is anticipated to begin at the start of the 2016-2017 school year with fourth and fifth grade at all elementary campuses.

The district has allocated $400,000 in funds from the approved tax ratification for the purchase of furniture and expects to spend $400,000 each year each year until all elementary grade levels are fully furnished.

Click here to view more photos from the event.

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