Spotlights
Sneaking a peek at Mays Chapel
New elementary school to debut for students on August 27
08/26/2014

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As teachers scurried through cool hallways, sidestepping workers busy applying the finishing touches to lockers and light fixtures, Mary Zerhusan seemed an island of calm inside her classroom at the new Mays Chapel Elementary School in Timonium.

“They’re reading pillows,” she said, as she carefully painted each of her new student’s names onto brightly-colored throw pillows. “They’ll use them all year as we read, and then they’ll be able to take them home at the end of the school year.”

Down the hallway, Mays Chapel Principal Steve Coco was considering a different, more immediate time frame. Opening Baltimore County’s newest school for students on August 27 meant a blizzard of things to do for Coco, including a sneak peek at the building for students and their families on Monday, August 25. Still, he couldn’t help beaming.

“It has been so rewarding opening this school,” he said. “Even now, when you walk through the halls, you can feel the excitement.”

Indeed. When the first class of Mays Chapel students begins the new school year, they will enjoy a state-of-the-art, 700-seat elementary school, open and light-filled and stocked with technology, and a teaching staff ready to begin the year as one of 10 Baltimore County “Lighthouse Schools” – schools piloting the BCPS Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (S.T.A.T.) initiative.

Spotlight

Mays Chapel and the other nine Lighthouse Schools are the first in the system to receive individual digital learning devices for students; implement one-to-one personalized and blended learning; and create an innovative, comprehensive digital learning culture. Mays Chapel is unique, however, in that all K-5 students will receive devices to pilot the program instead of students in grades 1-3 as in other Lighthouse Schools.

But when students arrive on the first day, they will see a school that not only provides a modern and comfortable learning experience, but one that reflects the community around it as well. “The theme is mills and trestles,” said Coco, referencing the region’s rich history of water-powered mills and railroad-linked commerce.

At hallway intersections, for instance, cool blues, creams, and gray tiles approximate waterfalls. The same tiles create a stream-like motif running through the school’s media center. And on the school’s exterior walls, a latticed pattern set into stone recalls train tracks such as the Northern Central and Maryland and Pennsylvania lines.

When children arrive, they will be greeted by hallway displays depicting the evolution of technology. And in their classrooms, they’ll learn using desk units that are specially designed to encourage movement and interaction in each classroom. “I can’t wait,” Coco says of the first day. “We’re ready to get started!”

For a sneak peek at the new school, check out the Baltimore County Public Schools’ Flickr page for a virtual tour. Go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/sets/72157646861285455/.

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