Officials with Red Deer Public Schools got a sneak peek inside Don Campbell Elementary School that will open to students in September.
Construction of the $13-million kindergarten to Grade 5 school is ahead of schedule and is expected to be turned over the school district in early May.
Named after a respected administrator with the school district, Campbell’s family joined the tour of the school that will have three outdoor classrooms, and 11 indoor classrooms connected by 10 garage doors to allow for classes to work together.
A partnership with the City of Red Deer also allowed the school to include a gathering space that will be made available to community groups.
Jan Ludwig, Campbell’s daughter who toured the facility, said she was excited about the school’s innovative learning spaces and believed her father would also have appreciated the school’s unique educational features and community connection.
“I know he would be over the moon, over the moon,” said Ludwig who is a Grade 2 teacher at École Barrie Wilson Elementary School.
Campbell was the first principal of G.H. Dawe Community School when it opened in 1976. The concept of a facility with both public and Catholic schools, recreation facilities, a library and a community hub was new at the time, and Campbell played a significant role in its success.
Principal Cam Pizzey said traditional schools have very closed classrooms, but at the flexible classroom spaces at Don Campbell will more easily allow staff to work together.
“When teachers collaborate together they tend to come up with best practices and then those best practices, you can put in your classroom,” said Pizzey, who will be principal at Don Campbell.
“The culture of this school is going to be a fun, collaborative learning environment.”
School board chair Bev Manning said the school will able to accommodate 500 students and it’s expected to open with 350 students in the fall.
“Certainly the growth in Red Deer has been on this side of town. We’re definitely feeling the pressure and have felt the pressure at Mattie McCullough and Barrie Wilson,” Manning said.
She said efforts to get the new school began about 10 years ago, shortly after Barrie Wilson was approved. Now the pinch is at the middle school level and Red Deer Public will be looking to the province for capital funding.
In the meantime, Don Campbell school will help ease the strain and provide a new community space, Manning said.
“We believe these schools belong to the public. They’ve paid for them with their tax dollars, they invest in them, they work in them, their kids go to school here.”