West Middle School
Students at West Middle School had a powerful voice in designing their new Innovation Space.
Before any work formally began on the improvements to the library, the school’s Student Advisory Team offered insights, goals and an overarching vision for the new space. They wanted an open, inviting place for learning, a state-of-the-art hub where they could work with their peers or find a private space for study with equal ease.
When the new Innovation Space opened at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, it bore the imprint of the students’ input, from the vibrant colors to the dedicated conference and technology rooms to the flexible furniture.
“I wanted to make sure that we had comfortable furniture, that we had a green screen room,” said Sophia White, an eighth-grader who served on the team. “I really wanted a room where we could film, and I wanted space to learn and furniture that could move,” she said, adding that the final product met all of her expectations. “I’ve had a Math League competition here, and students from other schools loved it. Everyone was just amazed.”
It’s easy to see how the new space would impress. With its open design, dedicated tech spaces and distinct learning hubs, the new environment is sleek, inviting and approachable. The space’s design hub fits in seamlessly with a larger reading room; students can collaborate at group tables or find a private nook at the space’s new, movable furniture. All of these tools and resources align with the Instructional Excellence priority in Future Forward, the district’s blueprint for maintaining excellence well into the future.
According to West Middle School Principal Mónica García, the new space’s success is due in large part to the students’ investment and input.
“Their feedback pushed our thinking. There was more student ownership in it, and it really helped us to see that we could open up the walls and host multiple classes in the same space,” García said. “They’re so able to function in this open space; had we not had the student voice, I don’t know if we would have been as willing to give them the ability to collaborate and create in this kind of environment.”
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. This innovative approach to learning is also tied directly to the Instructional Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining educational excellence.
“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.”
"In these newly designed spaces, students are able to present their ideas and products utilizing a variety of modalities and then receive critical feedback for future reflections and possible new iterations to achieve at ever increasing levels. Each new day brings limitless possibilities for students and staff to expand and enhance their learning!"
-Principal Monica Garcia