'Quincy should be proud': Monroe staff get tour of new K-5 building

Jenna Niemann, left, an interior designer with Klingner and Associates, talks with Monroe School paraprofessionals Debbie Hickey, center, and Libby Holt about the design of the school's art media pod during a tour of the new Monroe School. Staff at the current Monroe School were treated to an up-close look at the new building where they will be working beginning in August. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 10, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Feb. 10, 2017 11:22 pm

QUINCY -- Lacie McClelland couldn't decide what she liked the best about the new elementary school on the Monroe School site.

"I like the size of the classrooms, the colors, just everything I've seen so far," said McClelland, a first-grade teacher at Monroe School who will move into the new K-5 building for the 2017-18 school year.

The current Monroe staff got a look at the new building, many for the first time, with a Friday afternoon tour. They walked through the cafeteria, gymnasium and K-2 wing, admiring classrooms and design features throughout.

McCelland could easily picture herself in one of the rooms and already was thinking about how to set up the space for her students.

"It will be nice. I'm excited. Really excited," she said.

For project manager Eric Barnes with Klingner and Associates, the tour provided a chance to show off the new school to people who played a role in its design.

"Part of the satisfaction of the whole project was getting to work with all the different school staff," Barnes said. "I'm wanting to watch their reactions as we're walking them through."

Classroom spaces have cabinetry installed but are still waiting for ceiling tiles after wiring work is complete. With tile flooring being installed, "you start to see colors," Barnes said. "You're starting to get a sense of what things will start looking like."


Bright and cheerful

Beckie Todd, a paraeducator and the Monroe School librarian, liked the open design, the bright and cheerful colors -- yellow for kindergarten, orange for first grade, and red for second grade -- and features such as classroom lighting that can be dimmed.

"They've done a really nice job," Todd said after getting her first look at the new building. "Quincy should be proud. Quincy should be very proud of what they've done."

Monroe Principal Brian Trowbridge said Friday's tour helped staff "visualize what's been on paper" for the new school on Payson Road, which is set to open in August for grades K-3.

The building's 42-member staff is "wanting to wrap their heads around what their working space will look like," Trowbridge said.

For the teaching staff, "the big piece is to visualize the setup, the specifics of the classroom and what that looks like," he said. "They will be packing their rooms up as we get close to the end of fourth quarter. They've got to plan, and they need to see what it is they're moving into for this transition."

Lou Ann Crockett, one of Monroe's "lunch ladies," was doing her own planning as she toured the still-under-construction kitchen. She walked into the kitchen's cooler and freezer, checking out the size of each, and is looking forward to seeing the finished building.

"It's like any other house," she said. "You have to wait for the furniture to be in to find out how it's really going to be."

Trowbridge, who has been in the new building many times as construction has progressed, enjoyed watching the reactions of staff members.

'The sheer size'

"For me, the theme has always been just the sheer size of the space that we're going to be working with -- whether the cafeteria, the gym, the learning centers at each wing," he said. "I believe teachers will be encouraged by some of those opportunities for those spaces."

Second-grade teacher Marci Keller already was planning how to use some of the spaces in the common area for the K-2 wing.

"It's exciting to actually see what they've been creating in our backyard for so long, to see how large it is, how open it is, yet how it accommodates everybody and their individual needs," she said.

"Personally, I've never taught in a brand-new building. That is really exciting to have new floors, new cabinets, new lights."

Keller walked through the building on a July tour, and she said it's gone through a major transformation since then.

"All we could do on the original walk-through was imagine what it was going to be like," she said. "Now we can see where the real walls are."