It doesn’t look like a classroom. The Creativity, Innovation & Research Center, or CIRC space in Haine Middle School, actually seems more like something you’d see in a Silicon Valley company that flaunts collaboration and creativity. Cutouts of clouds hang from the ceiling. Café-style booths and conversation pit couches nest in its corners and border its walls. A TV studio-type green screen lies hidden behind a red curtain. Electronic tablets are everywhere. Murals of hills and forests decorate its walls. And there’s a floor-to-ceiling treehouse, complete with a child-size tunnel and bright yellow slide, right in the middle of the room.
Haine School’s CIRC is actually one of several such imaginative spaces created by Seneca Valley in its K-6 schools. It is a collaboration of the school district with InventionLand, an O’Hara Township-based company started 20 years ago around a proprietary process to help clients in a variety of industries, including education, to create innovative products, processes and solutions.
The CIRC project provides strong evidence of just how far Seneca Valley has been ratcheting things up lately. Not only are they implementing a Master Plan to enhance their physical assets and improve the learning environment for our children, they are also implementing new academic initiatives to enhance the educational services they provide. But it’s not some sort of elite program reserved for the highest achieving children; every child from Kindergarten through sixth grade meets at least once a week in the new facility.
Earlier this week, along with members of our Board of Supervisors, I had the opportunity to see it for myself. And what we saw was more than just an elaborate classroom. What we saw was an exceptional level of energy and enthusiasm emanating from the CIRC. And it didn’t just come from the students; the school’s highly motivated and dedicated teachers were just as excited.
I was so impressed that I went back to the school that evening for a public open house, along with my wife – herself a former teacher from a family of teachers – and she was even more impressed with what she saw. Of course, it came too late for the two of us or for our own adult children to personally benefit from. But we can’t wait for our grandchildren to have this amazing educational opportunity.
So kudos to Superintendent Tracy Vitale and Assistant Superintendent Sean McCarty for leading this effort. And thanks to the Seneca Valley School Board for their continued investment in one of most important roles of local government – educating our young people to be thoughtful, creative, and independent adults who will help to ensure a healthy, vibrant future for Cranberry Township.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about our public schools. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org