For the upcoming 2019-2020 school year, Riviera Beach Elementary is opening its new early childhood education wing.
The wing consists of four classrooms that will house the three kindergarten and one pre-k classes.
“There is more equity among the kindergarten team. When they were previously staggered around the building, each classroom was a different size, some of the furniture was mismatched,” said Riviera Beach Elementary Principal John Wojtila. “Whereas now with the new construction, kindergarten has been the focus to have the new furniture and everything is matching. It’s really targeting our earliest learners.”
By targeting the earliest learners, Wojtila said students get excited about going to school from a young age.
Each classroom contains a SMART board. New technology increases student engagement, according to Wojtila.
“When you think about kids at home, they have tablets,” Wojtila said, “so having Chromebooks within the classroom, those interactive whiteboards or those touchscreen SMART boards, it really will, hopefully, help enhance that student engagement.”
The new classrooms are environmentally friendly. The lights are motion-censored, so they turn off after a classroom has been empty for a designated amount of time.
In addition to having more natural light than before, the windows have filters to keep out ultraviolet rays.
“Having that natural light also helps with student alertness, awareness, even goes back to overall student engagement,” Wojtila said. “A brighter learning environment makes a happier learning environment. It’s a more welcoming environment and learning space.”
As an increased security measure, there will now be a vestibule at the main entrance. Once buzzed into the building, guests will enter a secure vestibule before being buzzed into the main office. This streamlines guests to the main office and adds an extra level of security.
With the new construction, most of the teachers were reassigned rooms and the layout of the school was flipped. Instead of being in the front of the building, the first-grade classrooms were moved back next to the new wing to help with the flow. Wojtila said roughly 95% of the teachers were reassigned classrooms.
In addition, the band and strings groups were moved from the temporary classrooms to a permanent location inside the school.
“With the loss of the outside portables, that does bring band and strings back inside the building, which I’m excited about,” Wojtila said. “If they’re in the building, I’m excited to be able to hear the progress of our music students.”
Though the construction added square footage to the building, no new teaching positions were created. It is not yet clear if the new classrooms will impact the school’s capacity.
For those who want to see the new wing, Riviera Beach is hosting its sneak-a-peek on Thursday, August 29, from 2:30pm-3:30pm.
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