Dawson Middle Schoolers “Love It!”
Learning Happens Everywhere
Dallas, Texas – March 20, 2016 – Mention “library” and most people conjure a friendly, helpful librarian sitting behind the large circulation desk within a drab, staid place of towering bookshelves, clusters of heavy wood furniture, defined work and reading areas and the musty scent of leather bound pages. This image is not what George Dawson Middle School students, staff and administrators envisioned when they entered the bkm – Total Office of Texas 3’rd annual FLIP this Classroom contest. George Dawson Middle School, located in the center of Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex submitted a clever black and white video depicting Ms. Amy Skrovan, their school librarian day-dreaming about transforming their drab, outdated school library into a, “21’st century learning commons.” Imitating the popular HGTV reality show, Love It or List It, Mr. Wilson, Dawson’s principal enters the empty school library inquiring, “Where are all the kids?” Lamenting, Ms. Skrovan points to the dysfunctional space and worn out furniture, “Look around; it’s boring.” Referencing Love It or List It, Mr. Wilson retorts, “You’re going to need to find a way for them to love it, or we’ll have to list it.” The camera pans to two students portraying the show’s designer, Hilary Farr and realtor, David Visentin. They debate about whether their school library has potential for revitalization or whether it should be scraped and “listed.”
Collaboration between bkm – Total Office of Texas and Steelcase transformed Ms. Skrovan’s daydream about a, “Flexible space that accommodates a variety of learning styles,” into reality. The collection of Steelcase’s Campfire, Nod and Buoy seating combined with Groupwork Tables and Thread Hubs facilitates both formal and informal learning styles. With colors of stone, sky and moss, the organic furniture shapes lend themselves to the comfortable, versatile and ever-changing settings required for 21’st century learners. To accommodate students’ needs for easily accessible electrical outlets and computer portals, thin cylindrical towers resembling high tech periscopes – Thread Hubs, are positioned throughout work areas. When the renovated library was revealed to Dawson’s student body and staff on February 1’st, one 7’Th grader exclaimed, “It’s like Google and Starbucks in one space!”
Apropos that this year’s FLIP this Classroom contest was advertised with the tag line, “Learning Happens Everywhere.” Even more appropriate is that the $40,000 prize was awarded to George Dawson Middle School’s library, whose namesake finally conquered his own illiteracy at ninety-eight years of age. In his autobiography, Life is so good! Dawson writes, “Every morning I get up and wonder what I might learn that day.” Following in Mr. Dawson’s footsteps, “Students now flood our library in the morning before school,” observes Ms. Skrovan. Teachers consistently request the library for collaborative work, because as Ms. Skrovan states, “Students are now able to spread out or easily group together without disrupting others.” Mr. George Dawson would most likely agree that indeed, “Learning Happens Everywhere,” but for George Dawson Middle School students, it just became a whole lot easier.