Special Report
College & Workforce Readiness

Arkansas High School Expands on a Human Scale

By Jamaal Abdul-Alim — June 02, 2016 2 min read
Many of the classrooms at Fayetteville High School feature movable walls and double doors so that groups of teachers or students can collaborate and gather in common spaces.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The newly renovated Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Ark., was designed to accommodate 3,000 students. But educators didn’t want the building to feel so massive on the inside that students became just another face in the crowd.

“The idea was that because it was gonna be 3,000 students, they didn’t want the school to feel too impersonal,” said Jim French, the global K-12 sector leader at the DLR Group, the architectural firm tasked with renovating the school near the University of Arkansas.

The old facility was stripped down to its steel beams. It was then clothed anew in metal panels, glass walls, and local stone.

“We tried to stay away from the building looking like an institute,” French said. “This is more of an iconic building that looks more like corporate headquarters.”

“The students wanted to feel like they were going to a real workplace,” he continued. “I think that’s an important piece of the story.”

Inside the rebuilt 353,381-square-foot facility, which cost $96 million to renovate, students learn in pods made up of four classrooms apiece. A team of teachers oversees each pod so that they can easily keep track of students, and build more meaningful relationships with them.

“What we don’t want to happen is—just because we are a large school—that kids would get lost in the shuffle,” said Principal Chad Scott.

‘Open Project Labs’

The classrooms feature movable walls with double doors that open up into common spaces, known as open project labs, where teachers from different classrooms and other groups can collaborate and gather.

“It provides space for multiple groups to gather,” explained science teacher Linda Stocker. “With these spaces, teachers are afforded more flexibility in the strategies and methods used in their curriculum.”

“For example,” she added, “physics teachers use the space for lab experiments, which require more space than is available in their classroom lab.”

She also pointed out an open space between the second- and third-floor open project labs that allows for physics experiments involving gravity, forces, and the like.

“Teachers use this space for Socratic circle discussions, large group activities, autonomous workstations, gallery walks, guest speakers, and one of the open project labs is set up for aquaponics,” Stocker said.

French, the architect, noted that while the classrooms facilitate teacher collaboration, they are still traditional enough for teachers who want to teach independently to do so.

“It’s really hard sometimes to get the district to make changes within their school designs, because they’re afraid of failure,” French said. “They don’t want to live with something that doesn’t work. What we’ve tried to do with this school is we tried to build half the classrooms very similar or on a traditional arrangement, so if a teacher didn’t want to be highly collaborative with other teachers, they don’t have to.”

Coverage of trends in K-12 innovation and efforts to put these new ideas and approaches into practice in schools, districts, and classrooms is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York at www.carnegie.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness States Are Making Work-Based Learning a Top Policy Priority
Interest in career and technical education continues to grow in schools nationwide, new report shows.
3 min read
Kermir Highsmith, left, Dynasty McClurk, center, and Nevaeh Williams, work in their culinary arts class at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Dec. 13, 2022.
Kermir Highsmith, left, Dynasty McClurk, center, and Nevaeh Williams, work in their culinary arts class at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Dec. 13, 2022.
Nate Smallwood for Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness High School Students Think They Are Ready for College. But They Aren't
Four in 5 students say they're academically ready for college. Their test scores say otherwise.
5 min read
Photo of pensive young man on bench.
iStock / Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Amid a Rocky FAFSA Rollout, Ed. Dept. Offers Colleges More Flexibility
The changes are meant to free up colleges and universities to process aid forms more quickly and easily.
4 min read
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the rise.
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the rise.
Jon Elswick/AP
College & Workforce Readiness A Career Prep Bill Gets Bipartisan Support in the Senate. What’s in It?
New federal legislation would authorize state grants to bolster dual enrollment, apprenticeships, and other forms of on-the-job training.
4 min read
Heidi Griebel and Josie Wahl participate in carpentry class at Career and Technical Education Academy in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Jan. 7, 2019.
Heidi Griebel and Josie Wahl participate in carpentry class at the Career and Technical Education Academy in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Jan. 7, 2019. A new bill in the U.S. Senate would authorize state grants to bolster dual enrollment, apprenticeships, and other forms of on-the-job training.
Loren Townsley/The Argus Leader via AP