Frederick Douglass High School, which will be Fayette County’s sixth public high school when it opens in August, will have 21st-century furniture and the feel of a college.
The furniture will fit in with a main component of 21st-century learning and teaching, which calls for students and teachers to collaborate, Douglass principal Lester Diaz said. “The layout of the classrooms and physical space is essential in setting the culture,” Diaz said.
At its Jan. 23 meeting, the Fayette County school board approved $730,861 to buy and install the furniture at the school off Winchester Road.
Generally, teachers “will not have a dedicated classroom — but instead a designated workspace (in a room) where they collaborate with each other on how to present information to their students, said Sarah Baker, senior account executive with KPC Architectural Products in Lexington. KPC is one of the firms that sold the furniture.
Each teacher will have a mobile lectern with a lockable storage unit for materials, making it easy to prepare for a class, and teachers can roll that unit from their work space to the classroom.
Diaz said only a few teachers, such as band and orchestra instructors, or instructors who use labs will have specialized classrooms assigned to them.
“For the most part,” Diaz said, “we are looking at a college model.” Teachers will have offices and office hours, and courses will be assigned to a physical space in the building.
In addition, every hallway is designed as an academy: a science and technology academy, a health care academy or a freshman academy. Every academy will have its own library in addition to the school’s main library, Diaz said.
Students will have tables and chairs that promote flexibility and change in classroom lessons, Baker said. Tables will be on lockable casters and will be able to flip up and be placed out of the way for quick group discussions. Chairs will have flexible backs to keep students comfortable and focused. Studies show that students have more focus when their bodies can move, she said.
Architects and school officials worked together to create spaces at Douglass that foster collaboration, creativity and multiple ways of learning, Baker said.
In the media or library areas and in common areas, tables are designed so no students will have their backs to an instructor, she said.
One aspect to the furniture isn’t a new concept. It has to have structural integrity, Baker said. “It must be sound and have a trusted warranty to hold up to the rigor” of high school students.