Travis 6th Grade Campus
To ease the transition from elementary school to junior high, Amarillo Independent School District established a new sixth grade standalone campus. Travis 6th Grade Campus has ample natural daylight to make the school feel open and inviting to its 400 sixth grade students. Designed to support team teaching and provide more individualized attention, the school is divided into three small learning communities.
In response to the District's desire for an innovative school design that would help students transition from elementary to middle school - both academically and socially - each small learning community has its own classroom wing, outdoor space, and collaboration space. The collaboration spaces include movable furniture, smart TVs, and floor-to-ceiling white boards that can be pulled out for group work. The flexible, informal seating provided in the collaboration and outdoor spaces encourage team teaching and also meet different learning styles, allowing kids to move, use tablets and other technology, and engage in project based learning for better retention.
More formal classroom settings also incorporate tablet technology and project based learning, and teachers have access to a film room where they can videotape lessons and post them on their websites for "flipped learning." All three small learning communities share a large cafeteria, gym, band room, library, and outdoor field.
The selected site is large and has great views, but there were several challenges that had to be overcome and carefully managed as part of the construction budget. The site could only be accessed from one side, so access points were carefully planned to provide separation of bus and parent traffic. Because the site slopes 60 feet to a creek that the entire neighborhood feeds into for its storm drainage system, much of the site was unusable. Only 13 acres of the 21-acre site are developed. The building is sited to create a one-level campus arranged around a series of courtyards that provide views and allow for easy monitoring of activities around the entire campus.
"One thing I really did love about working with Dekker Perich Sabatini... I was coming from a completely different background, a completely different education, and from vocabulary and everything, I never felt lost in the meetings with you. I always felt like you took the time to explain things to me, and I felt like I was validated in that my opinion and what I thought as an educator coming into the process mattered. And to me as a principal opening the school that was huge, because it was a little scary for me, it was a completely different world, and I was the odd man out coming in. I didn't feel that after really the initial meeting, I felt welcomed in that my opinion mattered. And I think that's a big deal for people who are thinking about doing this. It was fun."
~Brandy Self, Principal, Travis 6th Grade Campus, Amarillo Independent School District