WORTHINGTON — At the beginning of the second week of September, District 518’s Learning Center staff welcomed students to their new campus serenely set between two cornfields on North Crailsheim Road. Brightly lit, homey classrooms line both sides of a high-ceilinged, light and airy commons area which stretches through the building from east to west. Natural light flows through classroom windows and skylights in the commons, where carefully placed furniture invites students and staff to spend some time together.

Because of this new facility, the Learning Center now includes technological features that enhance student learning and teacher effectiveness. Large-screen interactive televisions with wifi access from both teachers’ and students’ laptops and iPads hang in each classroom. Teachers may move around their classrooms with their devices in hand as they project their lessons onto the television screen and may interact more effectively with their students.

Three impressive features of the Learning Center are the art lab, the science lab and the full-sized gymnasium, all of which are equipped for enhanced student learning. “Our new art room allows us to provide our students with many new experiences in art making,” stated art instructor Janelle Doyle. With an on-site kiln available, she will offer ceramics for the first time. “All of this creates new enthusiasm for learning from our students and a chance to for me to incorporate many new ideas on how to effectively teach art.”

The fully equipped science lab provides flexibility, required safety features and opportunities for enhanced student learning. Science teacher Josh Beebout pointed out the specialized lab equipment includes an acid base storage unit, a safety google storage cabinet, four electronic scales, three hot plates with magnetic stirring rods, a working safety shower, and an eye wash station along with a fume hood so students may experiment with chemical reaction and the fumes will vent outside. These and other features will continue to enhance student learning for years to come.

The full-sized gym benefits the students while it also provides a great community resource for other activities and competitive sporting events. Austin Selvey said, “The new building has been a treat to start the 2019-2020 school year in. I teach physical education, so being in a brand new gymnasium has been a really cool experience. The new gymnasium is much bigger, giving us so much more space to move and expanding the number of opportunities that the students have for learning new activities.” Speakers can play music in the entire gym, and the fitness room will provide additional opportunities for the students.

Students are impressed with their new campus. They like the carpet throughout the building and the new technology. The attractive cafeteria, the office area, the gym, and the bathrooms are high on their list of likes. They appreciate the modern architecture, the layout of the space, and the building’s location. One student stated that he would rate the new building with at the very least 4.5 of 5 stars.

Tentative plans include a community open house at the Learning Center sometime in October.

Shari Nelson is a communication arts teacher at District 518's Learning Center.