Since 2002 the district has completed rebuilding 18 schools, with Enatai Elementary and Odle Middle School most recently unveiled in the fall of 2016.
The completed projects increase capacity and reflect the latest in educational design, collaborative spaces, and state-of-the-art technology in support of teaching and learning in Bellevue. Capital construction projects such as these are generously made possible by voters in our community who invest in our schools by passing bond measures.
“We love the new building!” Principal Amy MacDonald said about Enatai. “My favorite aspect of the building is how open and light it feels. There is something very beautiful to see outside of every classroom window.”
The new Enatai is approximately 82,000 square feet and features a pod design with grade levels clustered around a shared open space, rooms for specialists, a dedicated space for early learning programs and much more.
“My favorite part of the new Enatai is the pod configuration,” said Kindergarten teacher Mary Kay Westmoreland. “In the past I was isolated in location from my grade level team.”
Another highlight, Westmoreland said, is having ample space to meet student needs and being able to have space for large groups, small groups, and individual instruction. And it isn’t just having the space, but also maximizing that space and utilizing what the district has learned from other rebuild projects. At Sammamish, for example, the school was designed with a multitude of surfaces that could be used by staff and students, turning walls and cabinets into whiteboards. Enatai utilized this design element and now has cabinet and cupboard door whiteboards.
“It’s those little touches like that that are helpful to teachers in being able to best use wall space and create other learning spaces around the classroom,” MacDonald said.
The spaces for specialists, art, and a room that will be dedicated to STEM are all located at the front of the school. Enatai is also the third school to have the early learning program space connected to the main school building. MacDonald noted that the location of the specialists and the early learning program, in addition to the large gallery and other gathering spaces throughout the school, brings the community of the school together.
“I remember doing the first few community tours,” MacDonald said. “I would ask folks what word came to mind as they walked through the gallery at the front of the building and a lot of us kept landing on the word ‘inspiring.’”
The building is designed to maximize natural lighting and the design highlights different parts of the environment from the mountains to the ocean with the color scheme and murals.
Patricia Wallace, who also teaches Kindergarten at Enatai, said that the first time she saw the new building she was, “Completely awestruck at the vastness of the building.”
“The new building is absolutely beautiful.” Wallace said.
Odle Middle School
“The general design and architectural features of the new building are really nice,” said Principal Aaron Miller. “It’s just a nice place to be, work, and go to school.”
The new 161,000 square foot building is two stories, with a variety of spaces for learning including specialty spaces for music, dance, art, video production and STEM programs. Teachers have been able to design their spaces inside and outside the classroom to best collaborate in their content areas such as math and world language.
“The culture of the school is more cohesive in the new building,” said Miller. “We are less spread out and we are able to place programs in the right classroom spaces to create a more cohesive feeling.”
The school also has a large student cafeteria and commons space, which includes a stage for student productions.
“It’s big and it’s open,” said Miller. “When you look through the commons and see the landscaping outside – it looks like the school and landscape are integrated.”
One of the biggest changes of the new space is the abundance of natural light throughout the building. The previous building had a limited number of windows, while the new one is lined with large glass windows on all sides of the building. This change was essential to students and staff.
“All the natural lighting is so nice and the rooms are big,” said Deanna Burmester, who teaches dance at Odle.
The layout of the new building and design choices are noticed by staff.
“The design of the school has been very well thought out,” said Gail McDonald, reading teacher. “It’s very intentional. Having the administration and counselors all central when students and visitors come in has been very beneficial and it feeds people into the school in a welcoming way.”
“We are the beneficiaries of being one of the later schools to be done when they’ve figured out ways to improve the flow of people,” said McDonald. “I gush about this building all the time. I absolutely love this building – it’s just beautiful.”
Burmester appreciates the new space and values the way that it serves students. The variety of spaces has allowed her to enhance differentiated instruction by differentiating spaces for specific learning.
“In dance we really use every ounce of the space when we split up into small groups,” said Burmester. “We have nice long hallways to move students around in groups. It’s nice that it’s so open and that I can see everybody working all the time.”
Burmester’s favorite feature of the new building are the mirrors in her dance studio. “With a full wall of mirrors the students pick up things faster because now they can really see themselves moving in the mirror,” she said. “It’s amazing and awesome.”
This year the school also joined the district’s one-to-one laptop initiative, which was a seamless transition in the new building because of the state-of-the-art technology built in to accommodate and integrate technology into learning.
“This building is a symbol of the value our community places on education,” said Miller. “I think people experience and recognize that here.”
To see the construction timeline visit the Capital Construction page of the district website.