Nature and artifice merged into one, a perfectly balanced community; the K-1 campus has brought significant change to ‘Iolani. Gone are traditional rectangle classrooms and circle tables, instead recurved tables accent rooms triple the size of the ones they replaced.
The extra space, it seems, has been the most appreciated change among faculty.
“The space is just a lot more efficient for us,” said kindergarten teacher Mr. Tyler Yamamoto. “We can do things with the whole class and then start pulling small groups and working one-on-one with students.”
Each class has two teachers taking care of 24-32 students. When the teachers need to split the students in half, newly-installed sliding doors can instantly divide the classroom.. Motion sensor lights, digital wall clocks, and sliding window blinds that double as whiteboards give the rooms a futuristic feel. Some features, however, were kept as a reminder of the old classrooms.
“We had a reading loft in our old classrooms,” first grade teacher Mrs. Kori Briones said. “We wanted to keep that tradition, so they created the reading platform.” On a raised wooden stage, students can read under a model tree designed and produced in the Sullivan Center for Innovation and Leadershp’s Fabrication Lab. The extended space allows groups of students to sit together, while the old loft could only accommodate one or two.
Every feature was designed to enhance the learning process. Wobble stools and flexible chairs allow restless students to fidget as they adapt to the long school schedule. Between the classrooms are “maker spaces,” equally useful for cooking demonstrations and design thinking projects. The students even have access to their own mini fabrication lab, laser-cutters included.
With every exciting new innovation there are exciting new challenges. For instance, due to enlarged campus, it takes longer for students to walk between classes. Coordination between teachers regarding the use of new resources is also in the works.
“Right now, we are just working out the kinks,” Briones explained. “They come with every new plan and are just part of what we do.”
‘Iolani is always growing, pushing past boundaries, and setting the bar for cutting edge learning institutions. ’Iolani is not done changing, but we are still doing what we do best: working hard and turning new situations into success.