By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The Plainville Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 26, in which the commissioners took a tour of the Frank T. Wheeler Elementary School construction project.
Led by Wheeler principal, Andrew Batchelder, the commissioners and superintendent, Steven LePage, learned about the new state of the art technology that has been added to every classroom.
Batchelder began in the west wing of the school, where every classroom was newly renovated, and will host grades three through five.
All classrooms in the west wing have been designed to look the same. They each feature 26 lockers, 25 desks, an ADA compliant desk, and one large and one small table. Each student has their own Chromebook laptop, and each classroom has a portable cart to house those Chromebooks. Each classroom will also have a sink and water fountain, additions that were added in the hopes of reducing classroom disturbances should a student require a drink or to wash their hands.
One new feature in the school is a system called audio assist.
“Rather than keep it divided up equitably in classrooms we’re going to look at our kids in grades three through five, and see as a whole team of teachers – and me getting input from them – who needs this? Who do we want to pilot this with? Who do we want to take data on and see if it actually works for kids that might have difficulty paying attention,” said Batchelder.
The audio assist system was piloted last year in a classroom in the east wing of the school. Batchelder explained that the teacher, and students, are able to speak through a microphone which is then distributed through speakers located in the ceiling. The result is “crisp” audio that all in the classroom can hear. Audio assist systems can be controlled by the individual teacher, in their individual classroom.
Also new to all Wheeler classrooms, explained Plainville’s director of I.T., Kevin Ross, is the use of touch display boards. Touch display boards will replace the use of smart boards and projectors. Ross explained that the life expectancy of the touch display board is much longer than that of the smart board.
And while there have been many new items added to the property and building, Batchelder showed the commissioners some of the items that will remain – included the original tile floor in the art room, and one of the two giant wheels on the playground.
The Wheeler construction project is slated to be completed in Feb. 2020, at which time, students who would traditionally attend Wheeler but have been attending another elementary school, will return to their intended school facility.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.