School-Within-School is a public, teacher-directed, Reggio Emilia inspired early childhood learning environment. Formerly housed within the Peabody Elementary School on Capitol Hill, this Pre-K and Kindergarten program was expanded upwards to first grade for the 2012-13 school year. In order to accomplish this expansion, and planned future growth, a new home had to be found.
Expansion space was reclaimed from a DCPS professional development suite, housed at the Logan Annex. In the summer of 2012, this utilitarian building was re-purposed as a vibrant and cheerful home for the new SWS at Logan Annex. Bright colors and open spaces welcome students, staff and visitors and provide the backdrop for SWS’ arts-based educational approach.
The main entrance is accessed either directly from the sidewalk, across a paved walkway, or from the parking lot, under a wooden arbor. Benches beneath the arbor have become an important spot for socializing at morning drop off and afternoon pick up.
The main entrance, pre-renovation.
The administrative area opens up with an expansive view of the main entrance. A colorful reception desk complements the blue painted block of offices beyond.
Just down from the entrance, the central corridor opens up toward the atelier, drawing in students, staff and visitors, and emphasizing the importance of this space to the Reggio Emilia-inspired program.
The administrative suite is open to the main entrance, and centered around a large collaboration table. This layout supports the open, inclusive nature of SWS' operations. The central collaboration table hosts formal and impromptu meetings, from monthly LSAT meetings to weekly teacher planning sessions, to impromptu parent/staff discussions at morning drop off and afternoon pick up.
The central atelier, or art studio: hub of artistic activity and focus of the Reggio Emilia program. Every student spends time working on art projects individually or in small groups in the atelier each week.
Childrens' storage cubbies are located in the hall, just outside the classrooms. Green accents in the flooring identify classroom entrances, and help break down the scale of the long double-loaded corridor.
Although small by DCPS standards, the classrooms are able to accommodate the Pre-K (4 year old) through 1st Grade classes. Each room received a new door, giving direct access to the exterior and allowing more opportunities to expand the instructional environment beyond the confines of the classroom.
Due to the constraints of expanding the school into an existing building, space is at a premium. To compensate for the lack of a dedicated storage room, each classroom received one full wall of built-in storage cabinets.
A typical classroom, pre-renovation. Several demising walls were relocated to create usable classroom sizes. New flooring, millwork, daylight shades, exterior doors and a fresh coat of paint all contributed to creating a bright, cheerful, learning environment for the children and staff.