Dry Creek Elementary School
The community at Dry Creek Elementary wanted to create Innovation Spaces that reflected the goals, strengths and identity of their entire community.
According to Dry Creek Principal Roberta Ballard, the expanded spaces that launched at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year fully meet those goals. The building, originally completed in 1972, now features state-of-the-art learning spaces designed to encourage creativity, team-building, innovative thinking and engagement. All of these elements align with the core principles of Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining excellence well into the future.
“We wanted to build resources that all of our students could use and benefit from,” Ballard said, pointing to the new furniture, technology and space that marks the central learning space. “This new space builds on who we are. It feels brighter and more inviting; it encourages our students to come together and collaborate.”
That mood was clear on a recent fall afternoon, as students collaborated in groups around whiteboards, desks with erasable surfaces and dynamic, movable furniture. Fourth-grader Allison Rymer led a group of students through a complex math problem, and the group effort saw every member of the enclave learning in their own unique way and style. Some came up to the whiteboard and added to the written equations; others worked quietly at the group table, sketching out ideas directly onto the surface of their workspace.
According to Rymer, that kind of flexibility has made a significant difference in how she learns and expresses herself.
“We have a lot of fun tools now that are across our school,” Rymer said. “There are new bookshelves, STEM tools and erasable tables everywhere. I didn’t feel like our school was as open before; now there are so many ways to learn.”
Similar spaces have gone up in every elementary and middle school in the Cherry Creek School District, and came through funding approved by voters in 2016. The spaces are designed to develop skills like collaboration, inquiry, empathy, problem-solving, curiosity, innovative thinking and passion. According to the latest academic research, as well as firsthand input from parents, teachers and other members of the CCSD community garnered during the Cherry Creek 2021 initiative, these are the skills that are integral to preparing students for a 21st-century academic and professional landscape.
“We worked with business, we worked with industry and we worked with colleges when we created the focus of what our innovation spaces would be. The goal is helping our students become critical thinkers,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “We want them to use knowledge in different ways, and we want them to learn to effectively learn to work with other people.” Siegfried added that every innovation space was designed to meet the unique needs of every separate school and community. “One of the greatest parts of our innovation work is allowing every school, every principal, every student and every community to be engaged in what innovation should look like at their school,” Siegfried said. “This is the next iteration of excellence.”
"Our students are most excited about having dedicated collaboration space in the media center and a STEM room which inspires creativity! Within our innovation remodel, we were able to add several new collaboration spaces for students to get together to work on various projects and activities. The STEM room has been wired with a touchscreen TV, full-wall whiteboards, and furniture which encourages students' to build and create."
-Principal Roberta Ballard