After years of reacting to the demands of their growing student population, Chula Vista Elementary School District decided to shift gears and take a more focused, innovative approach to developing their district. They enlisted in the help of Ruhnau Clarke Architects–the firm that has led all their design projects since 1986. With the help of their experienced design team, key stakeholders from the District set a goal to change the paradigm of education. They wanted to move from a tradition structured learning style to a free and collaborative environment; and thus, created a long range plan to build entirely new schools based on this model.

Saburo Muraoka Elementary School

First on the agenda, Saburo Muraoka Elementary School. A school whose design invites staff and students to have a more flexible and creative experience in learning and teaching. The design features an Innovation Center as the campus hub and resource nucleus of the school. The center is not a traditional library but rather one of multiple technology areas, a story nook, flexible soft furniture, connected small group collaboration rooms, and a media center for technology instruction, broadcasting and multi-use activities.  It is uniquely designed to be operated by students, with book checkout and returns based on a student lead honor system.  Instilling the values of integrity and empowerment at a young age.

Other components of the design include:

Blended Learning—allowing for a variety of learning opportunities such as small group learning areas, flexible use labs, and classrooms that extend into outdoor learning spaces.  

Safety—creating a welcoming yet secure environment for the students and parents entering the site. Entry to the campus is from a single point except where supervised entry is accommodated at the Kindergarten classrooms.

Collaboration—providing academic cores with shared discovery/focus labs, collaboration rooms, and work rooms for teachers in each distinct wing or classroom cluster. 

Flexibility—including a multi-purpose room that can be subdivided and accommodates technology, performing arts, music and overflow seating into a covered outdoor area.

Community Use—connecting the campus with the community through shared play fields with the adjoining park and community access to the multi-purpose room.

Completed in August 2017,  Saburo Muraoka Elementary School breathes new life into how education is delivered to students in the surrounding community–with a flexible design that meets students wherever they are at in their learning journey. 

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