When Jennings Creek Elementary School opens its doors Wednesday, students will enter the district’s second energy-independent school and the first in the state to integrate computer coding from kindergarten through sixth grade, district officials said.
At a ribbon-cutting and open house Sunday, Jennings Creek Principal Jamie Woosley also promoted the school’s new reading and math programming. But what stands out for Woosley is the school’s staff.
“We can have these plans in place, but you’re only as good as the people around you,” he said. “I’ve been able to put together a staff that is second to none.”
Opening with more than 600 students, Jennings Creek will be the district’s second net-zero school behind Richardsville Elementary. Net-zero schools are energy independent.
Jennings Creek uses rooftop solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, energy efficient LED lighting and other energy-saving practices. District officials estimate that Jennings Creek will sell $90,000 to $100,000 annually back to the power grid.
There’s also a push to bring the latest technology into classrooms.
Each classroom features flexible seating options, such as wobble chairs, balls and couches. Teachers have been trained on how to use them to promote classroom learning, and the goal is to allow students to burn off energy in a way that’s not disruptive. Furniture can also be easily moved around to suit a teacher’s classroom needs.
“It’s not just for fun and games. There’s a science behind it,” Woosley told the Daily News during a tour of the school Thursday. “It helps keep kids focused. It’s bringing learning into the 21st century.”
Jennings Creek can hold up to 750 students within its 90,000-square-foot school. District officials hoped to free up space at other neighboring elementary schools in the rapidly growing Warren Central High School feeder system.
Although the school’s two classroom wings will be ready by the start of school, its gymnasium and a cafeteria will still need work. The plan is to use the food service facilities at Henry F. Moss Middle School or Lost River Elementary School to prepare meals.
Jennings Creek students will either eat in their classrooms or in the school’s common areas during the first few weeks of school.
Chris McIntyre, the district’s chief financial officer, previously told the Daily News that he expected the cafeteria and gym to be finished by October.
In the meantime, sixth-grade reading and social studies teacher Brooke Hughes is looking forward to implementing the school’s new reading curriculum.
The new curriculum will use chapter books instead of conventional textbooks to deliver instruction and it integrates reading with writing, instead of divorcing the two, Hughes said. Students will also get 30 minutes of reading each day and the chance to pick what they’re reading.
“It’s going to make them want to read instead of ‘Oh, you’re reading this,’ ” she said, adding that her colleagues are just as excited as she is.
At Jennings Creek, high expectations are paired with a culture that supports students, Woosley said.
“We’ve been working on creating a culture of not being afraid to take chances. A culture that loves kids and loves them enough to push them further than they’ve ever been pushed,” he said.
Read the full story in the Bowling Green Daily News.