Excitement is in the air as teachers ready their classrooms and construction crews put the finishing touches on Lindbergh Schools' new Dressel Elementary School, which will welcome more than 600 students on Aug. 17.
"Everything about this is exciting," said Dressel Elementary School Principal Craig Hamby, who steps into his new role at Dressel after being principal at Lindbergh's Sappington Elementary School for seven years. "The community is excited, the kids are excited, the teachers are excited and everybody is energized."
Located at 10911 Tesson Ferry Road, Dressel Elementary is Lindbergh's sixth elementary school. The state-of-the-art, 99,116-square-foot school for grades K-5 was built to alleviate overcrowding districtwide.
Over the past four years, Lindbergh's K-12 enrollment has increased by 636 students and is expected to keep growing. The district's enrollment for 2016-17 was 6,736, and an additional 182 students are expected this fall.
In preparation for the opening of Dressel Elementary School, the board of education approved new elementary school and middle school attendance zones earlier this year. The opening of Dressel will bring enrollment at Lindbergh's existing elementary schools back at or under capacity.
"We were so crowded we were basically on top of each other," Hamby said.
At Sappington Elementary School, which had roughly 775 students last year, overcrowding led to several less-than-ideal situations – teachers giving lessons in stairwells, no storage space in classrooms, and no teachers' lounge or conference rooms, as every possible space in the building was turned into a teaching area. Overcrowding became such a problem that the school's fifth grade classrooms were temporarily relocated to Sperreng Middle School last year.
Although Dressel Elementary School will be filled to capacity with at least 650 students on the first day of school, there will be a lot more space for them.
"Even with a brand new building we're still at or over capacity in some classrooms, but dropping elementary enrollment from the 700's to the 600's (students) is a relief," Hamby said.
The $21.8 million new school, which was funded by a $34 million bond issue voters approved in April 2014, boasts individual classroom wings for each grade level; a modern, student-centered library, two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classrooms to enhance student learning; secure entrances and top-of-the-line security; three tornado shelters that double as multipurpose meeting rooms; an accessible, modern playground, a competition-size gym; energy-efficent LED lighting and more. In addition to the main entrance on Tesson Ferry Road, there will be secondary access from Musick Avenue, which will alleviate traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times.
Dressel Elementary School classrooms are not only spacious, but have built-in storage areas for students' belongings and enough room for students to move freely from one area to another for different activities. Even the library has movable bookshelves to allow for different configurations of the space.
"The rooms are beautiful and the classrooms are so much bigger," said longtime district teacher Janna Sinderlar, who is teaching kindergarten at Dressel Elementary this year. "There's room to move around and there's flexible seating – it doesn't even look like a typical classroom and that's unique."
Walk into any classroom and there's a variety of seating arrangements and learning spaces. There's regular chairs, balance chairs, stand-up desks, mini-libraries in one corner, a special learning area in another and more.
The classrooms are just one unique aspect of the school. Architects worked several panels of floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the building, allowing a great deal of natural light to flood the hallways. Throughout the school, students will find several benches and sitting areas that make use of the building's beams and structures.
"This building is amazing and everyone is excited," Sinderlar said as she was setting up her classroom earlier this week. "The excitement level is high and everybody is really motivated and excited to start the new school year."
Tour Dressel Elementary
The public is invited to tour the new Dressel Elementary School during an open house on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The school is located at 10911 Tesson Ferry Road.
For more information about the new school, visit golindberghschools.ws/dressel.