Volusia County Schools Transforms Underutilized Media Center

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modernizing libraries
Working with MeTEOR Education, Atlantic High School takes its most underutilized space on campus and converts it into a flexible, 21st Century learning environment supporting multiple pedagogies.

Ever since traditional card catalogues and physical books gave way to digital media and tablets, schools across the U.S. have been scrambling to repurpose these now-underutilized spaces into innovative learning spaces. Volusia County Schools in Daytona Beach, Fla., reflect this common problem, and recently decided to do something about it.

“Our libraries are our largest and most underutilized spaces in our schools,”said Saralee Morrissey, Director of Planning for the district. “While our high schools are changing, our physical structures weren’t  changing to meet students’ needs.”

Working with MeTEOR Education, Volusia County Schools has modernized the media center at Atlantic High School, effectively turning the space into a flexible environment that supports multiple modes of learning. MeTEOR Education gathered extensive amount of intake from several stakeholders in order to create a space which met the instructional design needs while also accomplishing the districts’ vision/mission for this renovated space.

The newly-transformed media center now supports a 21st Century vision of students doing different activities at the same time—reading, studying, collaborating with one another, or experimenting with a 3D printer—all under the same roof.

“Student intake aligned well with furniture design principles the school was implementing, which included integration of technology, dynamic ergonomics, adaptability, the learner’s mobility and multiple modalities,” said Cindy Wessel, MeTEOR Education Learning Environment Specialist. “The design was flexible for constant adaptation of the space allowing this large piece of real estate to be used extensively and effectively by not only the student body, but also by the community.

At its core, Volusia County Schools’ modernization program supports high-impact learning experiences in media centers across the entire district. Since implementing the modernization program, the media center has been jam-packed during lunch and class breaks, and the community can’t stop talking about the impacts. “Students notice the difference and say it makes them feel important and cared for by the district,” Morrissey said. “They know that the district cares about their goals and their futures.”

Media Specialist Kris Smith said that when she arrived at the district nearly four years, the media center wasn’t being used much by students or instructors. “It was a dead space,” said Smith. “There were rows and rows of old books that really ‘chopped up’ the space and didn’t enable easy flow.”

Expect to see more districts following in Volusia County Schools’ model as the push to make the most out of physical space while enabling modern pedagogies continues. “The concept of a library, which has been a foundational part of any school campus for the last 100 years, has become a very fluid concept as we look to the future.  The struggle to understand and define how a library can be leveraged in the future is challenging and thus, many have not kept pace with the ways the modern students search, curate, consume and ultimately create new information,” said Bill Latham, CEO of MeTEOR Education. “While the pace of change in classrooms of tomorrow has increased exponentially, it seems often that emphasis and commitment for transformation has not made its way into the library spaces of many schools.”

For more information on Atlantic High School’s transformation, go to https://meteoreducation.com/atlantic-high-school-a-model-for-modernization/

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