Imagine a school with classrooms on only one side of the building, windows that look out onto picturesque landscape, a path outside that features the ABCs, and a forest area with a tree house where a classroom of kids can read. The Springfield Literacy Center is that place, and 600 kindergartners and first-graders in the Springfield (Pa.) School District gather for school there every day.
“We weren’t looking for a cookie- cutter double-corridor, rectangular school. We wanted to construct a building in such a way that it would help kids read,” says Superintendent Jim Capolupo.
The building, which has won six awards for sustainability by the American Institute of Architects and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, is Gold-certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program managed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The school cost $20 million to build and received funding through a low-interest bond. Driven by a positive mission, “We believe every kid can read,” the Springfield Literacy Center opened in the fall of 2010. According to Capolupo, this school is the foundation of Springfield’s Literacy First initiative, whose goal is for every child to be reading on grade level.
It features a library rather than a lobby as the hub of the school, a soundproof room with glass walls in the center of every classroom, where a few students can read quietly yet the teacher can still watch them, and a green roof where kids can grow plants and flowers.