New Library Space at Mowrey Elementary Caters to Students

Students at Mowrey Elementary School explore the library, seeing its makeover featuring new furniture. NANCY MACE/FOR LOCAL.NEWS

Staff and students at Mowrey Elementary School in Quincy got their first glimpse of the library makeover May 14.

The ”reveal” showcased the $40,000 worth of furniture the school received for the winning entry of media specialist Jennifer Smith and instructional technology specialist Keith McCray in the second annual education learning space design competition sponsored by KI (kay eye), an employee-owned furniture manufacturer in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The design, developed using a free classroom planner tool provided by KI, received more than 12,000 online votes. It features different zones to support students with different learning styles as well as students with autism. The space, described as “a welcoming student hub with a coffee shop vibe,” incorporates elements like wobble seating. “The seats are not flat on the bottom so students can move from side to side. It gives them a little wiggle and helps children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)” according to Smith.

“We thought a coffee shop style would work well because we noticed our students like to get comfortable in a chair or lean against things, and work in nooks and crannies with partners. Our design aimed to suit what we saw them doing,” Smith said. The redesigned space “is intended to make kids more comfortable. If they’re in their comfort zone they are more likely to read, to attempt more difficult books, and to talk among themselves,” McCray added.
“This has been an amazing opportunity for the students here and our district. I couldn’t believe it until today, when it showed up,” Smith said when the furniture arrived the day before the reveal.

Thirty-six students representing the school and selected by teachers were filmed completing a mock lesson during the reveal. “Each group (grade level) was doing a different lesson (such as) presidents, states and Native Americans on the computer based on research,” she added.

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