WEST POINT, NEW YORK — August 26, 2021 — The Department of Defense Education Activity will celebrate a new elementary school at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York on September 1.
“What an engaging learning environment for our students. West Point Elementary School is more than a new school; it is a learning environment that flexes to support student learning,” said Helen Balilo, the Department of Defense Education Activity community superintendent for New York and Virginia. “DoDEA schools are designed to be used as teaching tools in our 21st century learning environments. We want every square foot in a school to contribute to an enriching and engaging education for our students.”
The new West Point Elementary School is a state-of-the-art, 21st-century school that is attended by children of U.S. Army soldiers and Department of Defense civilians who live on the installation. It replaces a school built in the 1960s.
There will be a reception and tour of the school on September 1 at 12:15 p.m. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 1:15 p.m.
“We are loving the new building,” said Renee Sharkey, the school’s acting principal. “It is a marvel how the space changes how we interact – from how we collaborate to how the students engage.”
West Point Elementary School is one of two DoDEA schools located at U.S. Military Academy at West Point; the other is West Point Middle School. West Point Elementary School educates about 500 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
Twenty-first century learning is student-centered, participatory and experientially oriented. To support 21st-century teaching and learning, DoDEA learning environments are flexible, integrated and adaptable to diverse activities.
This makes our schools unique. Students flow and work within an open, neighborhood concept that creates a community of learners. All students in a “neighborhood” work and collaborate with each other throughout the day.
DoDEA calls this its 21st-century school model. The heart of each grade is a commons or multipurpose space. Surrounding it are instructional spaces of various sizes that are grouped together in neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a learning hub, a central, flexible space that can be used for projects, or breakout sessions and activities. Clustered around the learning hub are learning studios or classrooms which are paired for collaborative instruction; group learning spaces for smaller-scale project work; and smaller spaces for one-to-one work. Neighborhoods also have easy access to outdoor learning and play spaces.
This community approach means students learn and work collaboratively so that all students receive a top-notch experience. Our teachers collaborate too! They co-develop learning plans together, which translates into similar homework expectations.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District managed the construction of the school. Construction on the new school began in 2016; it opened to new students in 2020, though the project was completed this year. The new, two-story school spans 95,552 square feet and cost $60 million.
The school features beautiful views of the Hudson River, the river valley and the surrounding forests, and it includes teaching systems for alternative energy education, including solar and wind power.
Students played an active role in the planning out of the school as a way for them to learn about careers in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics or what is called STEAM. During the project, students explored the impact of removing trees on wildlife and developed strategies to mitigate that impact. They performed engineering studies with project engineers and reviewed maps and prints with architects. And, they engaged with architects, environmental specialist and civil engineers.