Friday, April 14, 2006

Harambee's Media Center

Harambee (http://www.emid6067.net/Harambee/) is the K-6 school in Minnesota's East Metro Integration District, a magnet program pulling students from St. Paul and its surrounding suburbs. An open school in structure and practice if not in name, classrooms are multi-age and collaborate a lot within levels. The school has environmental and global focuses, with students getting specialist instruction in both. Students have hand-on science instruction in the many acres and various Minnesota biomes connected to the school. Not only is the student body truly diverse, but celebration of cultural diversity is abundantly evident throughout the facility. In short, I am seriously contemplating living in St. Paul when I have kids ready for school just so they can go to Harambee!

I recently observed the media specialist, Debra Watson. The huge, open media center (http://teacherweb.com/MN/HarambeeElementarySchool/MediaCenter/) is the first thing you see through a wall of windows upon entering the school. Low shelves throughout increase the spacious feeling, and culturally diverse displays create a lot of visual interest. There is a large presentation space, clusters of computer station, and a multi-leveled, carpeted area for reading and instruction. Ms. Watson's teaching area looks well-used, with student work, teaching materials, and book displays that reflect what students are reading. This media center is the heart of the school and a welcoming environment that encourages student use.

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