TOWN OF BELOIT
With the opening of Garden Prairie Intermediate School fast approaching, teachers in the Turner School District are hard at work getting ready for the fall.
Lisabeth Langer, library specialist and coordinator of the district’s gifted and talented program, spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday unpacking hundreds of boxes full of books with student teacher Breanna Noack. They spent hours organizing books by genre in the library.
“Every time I come in here I see something I didn’t before,” Langer said. “It’s just so inviting.”
Garden Prairie Intermediate School, 3245 S. Bartells Drive, is replacing Townview Elementary School in the district and will serve grades two through five.
The library will have self-checkout kiosks for students to use, making the process speedier and simpler, Langer said.
The library and commons area includes a STEM classroom space that Langer said will be dedicated to technology education and media lessons. Students will visit that space periodically to learn about things like robotics or making videos on green screens.
Moreover, Langer said the school will see the addition of new 3D printing machines either in the winter or spring.
“This space is really for kids to create, collaborate and problem-solve on their own,” Langer said.
Students also will have access to rolling carts outside their regular classrooms that are full of books.Those selections will be rotated throughout the building based on what subjects or units different grade levels are studying throughout the year.
Noack is a student at Beloit College who works in the Turner district as a substitute paraprofessional and during summers. She is also a Beloit Turner alumna. She said it will be exciting to welcome students to the new building and see their faces light up.
“The overall atmosphere is so welcoming and happy. I think it will be great for students,” Noack said.
She said she has been impressed by the accessibility of the school’s playground and the school's modern features. For example, the music classroom has a giant circle where students can sit down, and the desks have sliding trays for convenience.
Fourth-grade teacher Dan Laursen was also unpacking boxes of books and supplies while arranging the desks and organizing cabinets inside his classroom Wednesday morning.
Laursen said he is excited to share the new space with his students and enjoy the change of scenery.
Having the flexibility of outdoor learning areas and small group workspaces is an added bonus, he said.
Laursen said he thinks the new school will help promote project-based learning and movement.
“The openness, the warmness of it all seems much more inviting with all the different spaces for kids to be in,” Laursen said.
Principal Ryan Bertelsen said as students return this fall, staff members are excited for this once-in-lifetime opportunity to showcase a new school building.
“We all recognize how important it is. It provides a ton of options for teachers and students,” Bertelsen said.
The building is expected to serve the district’s needs well into the future, Bertelsen said, with staff remaining focused on collaboration and adaptation.
As the teachers have begun preparing their classrooms during a busy week, Bertelsen said they have exchanged ideas and grown increasingly excited for the transition.
Bertelsen also noted the building's secure entrances and modern alert systems designed to enhance student and staff safety.
As people first enter the building, the first things they see are the library and gymnasium. Bertelsen said he anticipates a “wow factor” for students on their first day of school.