Cherry Hills Village Elementary School
As Darryl Sigman toured the newly completed Innovation Spaces at Cherry Hills Village Elementary, he offered constant credit to the school’s students.
As principal of Cherry Hills Village, Sigman worked with administrators, teachers and staff to finalize the design of the additions, which include a revamped STEM lab, a “flex” room for robotics and other activities and an outdoor learning space that includes a mini-amphitheater and stone seats. Even so, Sigman was careful to point out that the students had a lead voice in the conceptualization and the design of the new spaces, which align with the mission of Future Forward, the Cherry Creek School District’s roadmap for maintaining excellence well into the future.
“This is the space that our students wanted,” Sigman said, pointing to the modernized library, a space between classrooms designed to optimize flow and added nooks for brainstorming, teamwork and independent projects. “They wanted alternative spaces to learn other than the classroom. They wanted to develop other places and focus on flexibility.”
Fourth-graders Jacob Talbert and Kash Perry were taking full advantage of that flexibility on a recent fall morning during their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) class. As they focused on programming exercises and learning the ins and outs of new technology, they said the space’s wide-open design was a complement to their work.
“It’s more modern,” Talbert said. “It’s a wide open space and it feels easier to work inside.”
Perry added, “There’s so much space now. There’s quiet room to work and there are places where you can get away from the sound of other students.”
The weather on the fall morning precluded much activity in the outdoor auditorium, but Sigman said the spring would bring a variety of reading exercises and group activities centered in the space. The stone benches and interactive design would encourage movement, engagement and kinetic learning, he added.
“This space will get a lot of use in the spring, when we host reading groups and discussion activities,” Sigman said.
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.”
"This is the space that our students wanted. They wanted alternative spaces to learn other than the classroom. They wanted to develop other places and focus on flexibility."
-Principal Darryl Sigman