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New space will boost teacher morale at Grant Avenue School

Principal Kristin Erat (seated in chair r), Grant Avenue Elementary School teachers and staff, and Change for Kids personnel celebrate the opening of the new Teacher Collaboration Lounge.
Bronx Times
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Teachers at the Grant Avenue Elementary School now have their own space.

On Tuesday, December 12, the teachers and staff celebrated the opening of their new teacher’s room with an official ribbon cutting ceremony.

The room was designed by Gensler and implementation was carried out by Hillmann Consulting, LLC and Gensler in a partnership with Change For Kids.

The dedicated space is a brightly colored and well-lit area designed for open work flow with the teachers and staff in mind, according to the teachers at Grant Avenue Elementary.

“It sounds like a very small thing but having a quiet place, where there are no children, to really focus on planning what’s going to happen in the coming days and weeks is a major asset,” said Angie Anderton, who has been teaching at Grant Avenue Elementary for seven years.

Formerly an out of use storage room and science lab, the room has been repurposed as a meeting space for teachers, a place to eat, collaborate, and find a quiet place to unwind after a full day of teaching.

“It’s beautifully made, it’s very modern and also it just gives the feeling of community,” said Lauren Buckridge, who has been teaching at Grant Avenue Elementary for six years.

“You can collaborate with other people for different kinds of meetings or even just to sit and just be normal adults.”

The elementary school was opened in 2009 inside a former middle school.

Grant Elementary shares the building with two additional schools that service kids all the way up to grade 12.

“So one of the challenges of having a shared space is you don’t always have space for teacher planning so this project was a long time in the making,” said Grant Avenue Elementary principal Kristin Erat.

“We’re a high-needs community and we have a really dedicated teaching staff,” Erat continued. “My philosophy is that the better our teachers are supported and inspired, they are better equipped to support and inspire our kids in turn.”

The space has been open for over a week and is a haven for Grant Avenue teachers and faculty, according to Erat.

“There’s a message I think embedded in taking the time and resources to design a space made for the people who are here,” Anderton added. “When you don’t have a place that makes your work easier to do it just makes everything harder.”

“Taking into account what we value as a staff community and designing the space with those ideas behind it really feels special,” Anderton concluded.

The teacher’s collaboration room also functions as a resource center with computers, copiers and printers, school supplies, as well as a kitchenette and coffee maker.

“Since I’ve worked at Grant Avenue I was always amazed at how supportive everyone was to each other,” said Sarah Rokhsar, who has been teaching at the school since she started her professional career.

“Just sitting in this area that’s designated for collaborating is strongly aligned with our mission which is basically based in safety, trust and respect for one another.”

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.
Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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