District’s kindness-centered focus on every student’s success inspires updates at Medinah Primary School
When students and visitors walk into the new vestibule at Medinah Primary School, they quickly understand what the school values: safety, kindness, and the success of every student.
The controlled vestibule is one of several renovations at the preK-2 school 30 miles northwest of Chicago. Additional upgrades include flexible classrooms, a remodeled library/media technology center, a new administrative office, and replacement of corridor lockers with age-appropriate cubbies, as well as outside improvements including a new student drop-off lane and bus loop.
The projects, designed by Legat Architects and built by Henry Bros. Co., stem from a 10-year master plan that Legat did for the district in the summer of 2017.
Safer Entry Sequence
The old main entry on the south side of the building allowed any visitor to access the school’s corridor. The renovations relocate a new secured vestibule and administrative office suite to the east end of the school. A video intercom system and electronic door access control visitor entry. Visitors present credentials through a sliding glass window, then they are screened before admittance to the reception area. The sliding window also allows parents to drop off items for their child without going through the full security protocol.
Mural Enlivens Vestibule, Celebrates District History
The district turned to Legat’s Jay Johnson and his team to energize the new vestibule. The response is a mural that uses a display case as an organizing element. Those entering the space are greeted by Medinah gray and blue, the district’s mission statement, and slogans that encapsulate the district’s philosophy: “Medinah Chooses KIND” and “Every student. Every day.”
The mural also features a 1903 photo of one of the region’s first schoolhouses. Johnson got the idea to use the image when he saw it on the wall of the original district office.
Revived Library Media Technology Center
Traditional library stacks filled the old library media technology center. Shelly Pickren, library media technology center director, said, “It was closed up so kids couldn’t see across the room.”
A makeover opens up the space, lets in the daylight, and introduces vibrant colors and flexible furniture.
Johnson said, “From the new carpeting to the triangular-shaped LED light, the renewed space offers students an environment that’s more in tune with their age.”
Not only do lower shelves enable students to see across the library, but the shelves are on wheels so staff can quickly reconfigure the space. The rehab also includes a new circulation desk.
The changes have allowed the library media technology center to host faculty and board meetings, as well as community programs such as Partnering to Achieve Learning Skills (PALS).
Renovations also transformed an old classroom into an occupational therapy/physical therapy (OTPT) room (for students with special needs) and a multipurpose room. Maintenance staff can take down the partition that separates the rooms to create a larger space.
Safer and More Efficient Traffic Flow
Before construction, traffic was a mess. Kids rushed around buses that stopped on a street. Parents parked on neighborhood streets or the staff lot, then left their cars to walk their children to the entry.
Today, the flow of traffic is much safer and more efficient. Buses pull into a new loop on school property. A landscaped berm between the loop and the street adds curb appeal and a natural, protective barrier for students.
Additionally, a safer and more efficient drop-off drive allows parents to watch their loved ones walk a short distance to the door, where staff members greet them.
Team Chooses Kindness
District Superintendent Dr. John Butts said, “At every step, it was a team effort and I always felt everyone was committed to what was best for the district.”
Johnson attributes much of the project’s success to the district, Legat, and Henry Bros. embracing Medinah School District 11’s charge to “Choose Kindness.” During construction, the district and the two firms sponsored Friday afternoon barbeques for contractors working on the projects.
“Sometimes, projects lead to a lot of finger-pointing between the contractor, owner, and architects,” said Johnson. “In the case of Medinah Primary School, voices were never raised and there was no finger-pointing.”
Work at Other District Schools
Construction will soon wrap up on similar work at Medinah Intermediate and Middle Schools. Among the projects are updated library media technology centers, ADA accessible toilets, administrative suite renovations, staff commons remodeling, and security upgrades.
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