Posted Date: 10/07/2020
The Hawkins Independent School District knew they needed to make some changes to their 1970s-era elementary library and high school. Their high school classrooms also needed an upgrade to keep pace with the learning taking place there.
The old libraries were not very inviting. They featured dark paneling, offered limited gathering space, and had hard, uncomfortable furniture. The district turned to Demco’s design experts to help them achieve their goals of creating fun, welcoming spaces and enhancing learning by promoting collaboration, project-oriented work, and creativity.
“Demco really went above our expectations on the design and implementation. We had an idea but didn’t want to limit the design, and with the first round of plans we fell in love with the space,” said Superintendent Morris Lyon.
Key features of the new elementary library include the flexibility to create multiple spaces within the larger space, furnishings that are easy to clean, and a layout that is fun and inviting for students. To create areas for diverse student needs in the library, Demco designed furniture layouts that define five new spaces for learners.
Classroom Zone: This flexible learning space features multiple seating options, including Grow Stools, which enable the space to accommodate different age groups. Mobile Smith System Desks can be quickly reconfigured for individual, small-group, or whole-class instruction, and a glass markerboard invites interactive learning.
Cloud Zone: This space appeals to younger students and features fun furniture shapes and interactive elements. A ColorScape Playpod separates the space and provides a reading nook for students. It leads into the carpet area, which offers an inviting area for storytimes and instruction that includes a variety of seating options and low-level work surfaces, including floor recliners, floor cushions, bean bags, and rocking stools. Face-out shelving highlights the collection and attracts young readers.
Living Room Zone: This area features lounge seating and benches arranged in a circular pattern for socializing, relaxing, and informal collaboration.
Market Zone: The space features light-colored LibraCraft mobile shelving that highlights the collection and provides browsing opportunities to promote reading.
“On average, our campus grew by one half of a year reading level just as a result of the remodel.”
Beyond a renewed sense of community and excitement about their space, the district has seen academic gains as well. The elementary school principal conducted a study of reading scores from the previous year, noting that the library remodel was the only factor that changed. The results were phenomenal.
“On average, our campus grew by one half of a year reading level just as a result of the remodel. The amount of words read and points earned grew exponentially. We can say we definitely used taxpayer money wisely to impact student outcomes through this remodel. The proof is in the numbers,” said Lyon.
District leaders wanted the high school library and commons to become collegiate-level spaces for students to gather. After BWA Architects created an amazing new space, Demco designed furniture layouts to make it inviting, collaborative, and a space for ideation.
The glassed-in classroom area includes mobile furniture that can be rearranged for individual, small-group, or whole-class instruction. Throughout the library, colorful lounge furniture creates spaces for collaboration, reading, and relaxing. Individual lounge seating with privacy screens pairs with pull-up laptop desks to create private spaces.
The furnishings are arranged to provide areas for higher noise levels and lower noise levels to meet the needs of all learners, and power is integrated throughout to ensure students can work where they are most comfortable.
The library leads into the commons area, which features a snack bar for breakfast and breaks and a lounge area for students to gather and work on projects. Booth seating and “idea labs” around the edge of the library offer small groups comfortable places to collaborate and work on project-based learning activities.
Demco designers also took a flexible classroom approach when furnishing surrounding classrooms, including a computer science area, home economics classroom, and health science lab.
“Demco was a huge partner in this space remodel,” said Lyon. “They knocked it out of the park. The designers saw the space and met, and in many cases exceeded, our expectations. The furniture made our project, hands down. The architect did an outstanding job, but the furniture took it over the top!” said Lyon.
“Our parents and community could not believe this was our space when they saw it for the first time. I heard, ‘This looks like something out of a television show!’ or ‘This space looks like something from the Google headquarters!’”
“This was a great working relationship from the design to the install — a wonderful experience from start to finish. I could not have asked for a better designer, a more pleasing installation process, or higher quality furniture.”
The district is using their new spaces to expand their programs, support ACT prep, and boost community pride in their school. Students are engaged in learning on a daily basis and take pride in their new spaces. According to Lyon, “The students have been really proud of the areas and self-monitor the use of it. It has been an amazing transformation.”