Paradise Elementary is a neighborhood school. In the design
phase, the parents, the faculty, and the community leaders
agreed to combine resources to extend the usual parameters
of a school as an educational facility into a total community
facility. Using integrated funding sources, the design
team was able to provide funding beyond the minimum requirements
for school facilities in the state. The 25-acre site was
designed for multi-use activities.
For instance, the recreation department helped provide
funding for the gym, the outdoor field, and the playgrounds.
Sponsored recreation department events are regularly scheduled
at the facility after regular school hours and on weekends.
Through grants from a variety of environmental sources,
the outdoor classroom area, which includes five acres
of woodlands, a creek, and a two-acre pond, allows for
"real-life" learning activities in all the academic
areas. Other public and private schools use the outdoor
learning area and local wildlife agencies schedule nature
walks on the weekends.
The administration conferencing areas and "great
rooms" in each learning house are regularly used
by community-based agencies for board meetings and planning
sessions. These agencies also plan working lunches and
dinners, which are provided at cost through the school
Local businesses hold member meetings and social events
in the cafeteria and gym. The media specialist hosts technology
classes and parent/child "book" nights.
Due to the beauty of the facility and its outdoor areas,
social events such as receptions, weddings, and private
parties are often scheduled at Paradise School. The local
nursing homes, senior centers, and mental retardation
center often join the students at breakfast, lunch, and
during special events. Each "learning house"
works in close relationship with a social service agency-each
adopting the other.
The city houses a full-time facilities and events coordinator
in the school administration area who helps to increase
the level of collaboration. top
Each "learning house" has four classrooms of
900 square feet each, two covered porches and two open
patios, and a 1,000 square foot great room. The great
room houses an open kitchen area, office work space, conferencing
area, and "home-style" conversation areas. During
the day it is used by all four teachers as an additional
"small-group" and "large-group" learning
area and as the teacher workroom. After hours it used
by family and community groups for meetings, birthday
parties, and social gatherings.
Each classroom has research, activity, conversation, independent,
and group-learning areas. Each also has a sink, water
fountain, counter space, and three private restrooms.
Each classroom has a telephone, five lap-top computers,
internet access, a television, and a levelized classroom
All houses have independent plumbing, electrical, and
HVAC units. There are large windows in each classroom
and a sliding glass door that opens directly to the patio.
This allows for ample natural daylight and for easy access
to outdoor learning areas. Each classroom has a small
"garden" area with outdoor water access.
The sixth grade is housed near the first grade due to
a "learning collaborative" that has been developed
between the two grade levels. top
The cafeteria, at 2,000 square feet, far exceeds the
state requirement of 1,400 square feet. Due the number
of visitors who join the students for meals on a regular
basis, and to the number of outside events, the community
opted for this larger facility.
The kitchen, often used by outside agencies, has been
expanded to 1800 square feet, 200 feet above the state
requirement. There are separate refrigeration and freezer
areas for community use. top
Due to the level of use by the recreation department,
the gym was expanded to 7,000 square feet and an outdoor
field was built for multi-use activities.
The art and music areas are 1,000 square feet each and
housed with the special education resource classes.
The special education resource classes are 800 square
feet each. All buildings in the facility are handicapped
accessible. Special education students are served as
much as possible through the collaborative model.
The media center, at 3,000 square feet, is the learning
hub of the school, with easy accessibility from all
houses. Students and classes visit the center regularly
for "book talks," "author studies,"
"read with the media specialist," research,
publication of student work, and to produce a school
television program. Special community guest lecturers
and visitors also give presentations for classes or
live school-wide broadcasts. top
The administration area has a large atrium and student
"artifacts" display area at the entrance.
Local and student artists have works on display throughout
the administrative area. The entrance has a raised-roof
design with expansive window areas. The offices house
a reception area for administrators, a receptionist
area, offices for a principal, assistant principal for
instruction, administrative secretary, counselor, parent
coordinator, facilities coordinator, and a secretary/bookkeeper/registrar.
There is a teacher work area with copy machines, computer
work-station with scanner, telephone, and fax, ample
counter space, tables and chairs, laminator, paper-cutter,
poster-maker, die-cutter, and snack machines. The large
conference room has computer work area with fax, scanner,
and telephone, and a television/VCR. The two restrooms
have "home-style" fixtures and mirrors. top