WILMINGTON – Collaboration and flexibility are the names of the game in education these days, and St. Anthony of Padua is one diocesan elementary school to join the party this summer. The Wilmington school has transformed its library so completely that books may be hard to find.
Replacing bookshelves and stationary tables are mobile chairs and tables with tops that are suitable for writing; a SMARTboard, an Apple TV, a small laptop center and a room for the school’s special-education teacher. That room is separated from the rest of the learning center by a glass wall that students can also write on.
“We’ve been planning for a while, and then this past year with the help of our education fund and Columbus Day Committee, our home and school board and some donations, we were able to get started,” principal Judy White said.
“We’ve kind of done away with our traditional library. There are no books up there currently. I’m not saying that they won’t come back at some point or that we won’t have a little library.”
That doesn’t mean the students will not have access to reading. They will be able to log on to Epic!, an e-library for children.
The room, freshly painted, took about a year to complete. Everything is designed with function in mind. There is very little clutter and few items hanging on walls. White and other school officials visited Neumann University and area schools as part of their extensive research.
White made sure to give credit to the late pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Oblate Father Nick Waseline, who died in April. He was on board from the beginning.
“As soon as I said it, he said, ‘Do it!’ He just trusted us to move forward with technology,” White said.
This is the latest step in that direction for St. Anthony’s. The school already furnishes iPads for students in fifth through eighth grade. The closet doors were waiting to be painted with whiteboard paint, and a 3D printer is on the horizon.
Fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cripps is excited to be able to use the new facility.
“It’s not a classroom so it definitely means that they can collaborate more. That’s not meant to be a quiet work environment. It’s meant for them to be busy, to do things,” she said.
The younger students will be able to use it for centers, while the older kids can do group work there without being on top of each other, she said.
One other development on the way at St. Anthony is a new staff member to lead an accelerated program for the top students at the school, White said. She hopes to have that up and running when the students return from Christmas break.