Philip Simmons High School ready to 'serve every child' in inaugural year
Technology is at the center of the brand new, state-of-the-art Philip Simmons High School (PSHS), which opened its doors to welcome teachers and staff on Aug. 4.
“The vision for this school from the very beginning was to have a school that was really rich in technology,” said Principal Dr. James Spencer. “…The curriculum is rich with technology. In fact, the building was built specifically for the utilization of technology in the instruction.”
Along with technology, the legacy of Philip Simmons was also an essential part of the design for the building, explained Spencer. This is evident through the iron-like design present throughout the entire school.
Because PSHS is a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) focused school, Spencer explained that a special curriculum had to be designed.
“At the high school level, you actually have CTE classrooms,” said Spencer. “We have very specific programs like mechatronics, networking, cyber security, health informatics, pre-engineering. So as you can hear, it’s very tech-y. [Technology] is really entrenched within our academic programs.”
Another unique program that the high school will offer is sports medicine, added Spencer.
“It’s state of the art,” he said. “The way we designed it, one side is the clinical setting and then on the other side we have the teaching side. We have trainers and doctors that are going to come in.”
When walking through the school, one does not feel as if they are walking through a high school due to the vast amounts of collaborative spaces and the overall unique design throughout the building. According to Spencer, that was the idea.
“We kind of designed it somewhat to feel like a small college campus,” he said. “For instance, the laptops and their cellphones—we don’t care when they’re on or off. We’re not policing that. We’re just giving them those liberties.”
One space in particular, called the “Tech Forest,” is a place where students can go before school, during lunch or after school to study, work on homework and projects or do collaborative work with other students, explained Spencer. This area, along with the other collaborative spaces in the school, is lined with comfortable couches and tables for students to utilize.
“Every time you come down a hallway, the hallway always gets wider,” said Spencer. “The purpose for that is to create collaborative spaces for kids… We even went to the point of putting charging stations all over for the kids.”
In every classroom stands a 64-inch smart board, which soon will be switched out for 86-inch smart boards, according to Spencer. To continue with the theme of collaboration, the desks in each of the classrooms are also designed to make groups of three, four or five.
For the inaugural year, Spencer explained that they have one main goal: To serve every child.
Although construction is ongoing, Spencer assured that the building will be ready by Aug. 17, the first day of school.