NEW SCHOOL MODEL
When a community grows, it often first feels the impact in its schools. Overcrowding becomes a hindrance to effective education. Southwest Springfield, Missouri is no exception. A 2013 bond issue enabled the Springfield School Board to replace the 1936 Sherwood Elementary, a small, out-of-date and aging facility.
INNOVATION AT SHERWOOD
Sherwood Elementary is located on a mostly wooded site with a golf course to the north and a creek with nature trails along the east and south. The beautiful setting led to a Natural Sciences theme for the new school. After several design meetings, which included the students, staff, and community, the vision of the new 80,000 sq.-ft. school evolved into a facility that acknowledges the environment; includes Collaboration Studios; recognizes the history of the original Sherwood Elementary; embraces the community; and provides a safe and fun learning environment. The design encourages innovative teaching and learning, making it a next-generation facility. Joined classrooms, or “studios,” enable co-teaching, letting ideas flow freely from one group to the next. Studios border shared collaboration spaces, which provide opportunities for flexible learning. Transparent walls throughout the facility allow connectivity between the spaces, promoting an open, collaborative community. Flexible furnishings accommodate groups of all sizes in a variety of activities. Sherwood Elementary School is designed to be flexible and adaptable to meet modern and future educational needs, and to serve the community and school district through future generations.
Another cutting-edge feature of the school is its low energy use design. Through the strategic use and placement of skylights, high-performance glass, light shelves and auto-sensors, natural lighting supplements—or even eliminates—the need for artificial lighting during the day. The building boasts a state-of-the art automated building management system that monitors the facility 24 hours a day, shutting down power to areas not in use to reduce energy usage. The HVAC system includes geothermal wells and controls that minimize its use when spaces are unoccupied. in unoccupied areas. The building includes a small solar panel array on the roof of the gymnasium, as well as a small pole mounted panel cluster near the main entry.
The future addition of additional solar panels and possibly wind turbines could make Sherwood Net Zero, generating as much energy as the building uses. (Technically the building would still be on the grid. It would sell as much or more power back to the utility company during the day, as it uses during the evening.)
SECURITY AND SAFETY
Keeping staff and students safe has become a 21st century priority. School invasions and other threats to occupant safety require preparedness on the part of staff, students, and the building itself. In addition, schools must be able to endure environmental catastrophes.
Significant safety elements were incorporated into the Sherwood design. All of the building’s entry doors and adjacent windows have intruder-resistant glazing and the main entry and vestibule doors are equipped with request-to-enter hardware. The receptionist has a clear line of sight to allow or deny entry into the school. The school is also equipped with a silent alarm and lockdown system to be used in the event of an intruder or active shooter.
To prepare for natural catastrophes such as tornados, high winds or other severe weather, the gymnasium was designed to meet FEMA 361 structural standards and is designed to withstand an EF5 tornado. This “safe room” is available throughout the day for the school and the BGC program. The project did not receive FEMA funding, but the team was committed to keeping staff and students as safe as possible.
INTEGRATED BOYS & GIRLS CLUB
A unique opportunity developed when the Boys & Girls Club partnered with the school board to increase the educational mission, expanding the building’s role to serve not only as an elementary school, but also as a safe haven for young people before and after school. Innovative design and planning considered the needs of the Sertoma BGC to achieve its mission of enabling young people to learn, grow and have fun as they realize their potentials. This is the first partnership of its kind in Missouri.