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New J.H. Hines Elementary Opens To Students

Aug. 23, 2010

Listen to the audio | PHOTO GALLERY

The din in the hallways on the first day of school at J.H. Hines was pretty typical--excited kids struggling to stay quiet while surrounded by old and new friends, teachers offering encouragement or discipline, and the general buzz that accompanies the start of the school year. But yesterday was anything but a typical opening day at JH Hines. It was the first day of classes in the new 12 million dollar facility across the street from the old Paul Quinn College campus. Principal Archie Hatten said it's an opening day everyone there has been anticipating since the bond issue made it possible in 2008.

The building is sparkling and striking--throw out notions of what most elementary schools you've ever seen look like. The walls are painted with a darker yellow color, with bits of brown on borders and other colors on the floor. Says Principal Hatten, the colors were chosen with a sense of purpose.

An overwhelming number of students at JH Hines live in poverty. Administrators hope the school provides them with a sense of importance and excitement, conveying strength and stability. The school's physical structure is designed to bring people together. You may have heard Hatten mention "pods." The classrooms are clustered around common areas called pods--stop sign shaped areas around which the rooms are built. As opposed to rooms down a straight line, they're built in a way that reminds you of when your teacher had you put your desks in a circle for a group discussion. There's also puzzle pieces everywhere. These aspects are designed to build connections.

The teachers are energized to have new, spacious rooms with nautical themes and top-flight technology. It's a physical space that encourages the practices they're being taught to reach their students. One such example is the library. Getting students up to reading level by third grade is a major push both locally and nationally, and will be the focus of this year's Greater Waco Education Summit in November. Principle Archie Hatten says the library, with it's soaring ceiling and fun computer lab, is a place that will help them address these goals.

You can see pictures of the library, pods, and more on KWBU.org. We'll be hearing more from Mr. Hatten on 103.3 fm about the goals of the teachers and administrators at JH Hines to meet the educational needs of East Waco children. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.



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