Building Community and Connection

The Slice – October 2013: In Our High Schools | In Our Middle Schools | In Our Elementary Schools

Students in the city’s middle schools are reaping the benefits of the Strong Schools measure to expand and enrich their learning environments.

JLS: New Amphitheater and Classrooms Build School Community

MiddleSchoolAt JLS, projected student enrollment growth made new classrooms a necessity, but school administrators and teachers had a bigger dream for how to use the bond money to impact the school.

“Creating a central place where students could gather and build community was an essential part of our vision for the new construction,” explains JLS Principal Sharon Ofek. With the new construction, this vision came to life and JLS students now have an impressive outdoor amphitheater that serves as an anchor for the campus and is the natural meeting spot for rallies, speeches and other activities. JLS Seventh-grader Nura Mostaghimi reports, “The new amphitheater is great. Our first Rainbow Rally was there, and we gave our speeches there on Team Day.”

JLS also constructed a new two-story wing, which has become the home for all seventh grade core classes. The new building allows the school to strengthen its programs for teacher collaboration and team teaching, both of which are funded by donations to PiE.

For Principal Ofek, this focus on seventh grade is important for both academic and social development. As she explained, “The transition from sixth to seventh grade is one of the most challenging times for our students.”

PiE Funds Support the JLS Focus on Seventh Grade

JLSSquareJLS begins to build a sense of cohesion for seventh graders before school even starts through a special PiE-funded Team Day, which includes fun activities, and training in abilities awareness and digital citizenship. Teacher Kyle Hart recalled about Team Day in 2013 saying, “By forming into groups from all three different teams, we showed students that we are all part of one school at JLS.” Principal Ofek believes that Team Day is an essential part of her vision for JLS, which is to “cultivate a safe, connected and comfortable environment that leads to learning.”

Jordan and Terman: New Facilities Amplify PiE-Funded Art and Technology Programs

Although PiE funds do not pay for school construction, the new facilities improvements at Jordan are allowing the school to enhance and expand its performing arts programs, which are made possible with donations to PiE. This fall, Jordan students came back to school to find a new multipurpose room with a massive stage that is equipped to host bigger students productions. The room is so exciting that other Palo Alto schools are lining up to use it for their student performances. Vice-Principal Ellie Slack reports that Jordan students also have new music practice rooms, which are conveniently located near the multipurpose room.

TermanLibrarySquareAt Terman Middle School, the Strong Schools bond has allowed the school to build a much–needed new library. This functional learning space allows Terman to make the most of its educational technology tools and meet the needs of today’s ‘digital native’ students. PiE funds underwrite the cost of a dedicated Technology TOSA (teacher on special assignment), who is instrumental in helping teachers utilize technology to enhance student learning. Terman’s Principal Pier Angeli La Place says, “When our students experience learning in enhanced classrooms and modernized library spaces and when generous donations from our community through PiE support important programs, we cannot help but feel grateful.”