2017—Silsbee Elementary School

Silsbee ISD—Silsbee Elementary School
Architect: Claycomb Associates, Architects

This new elementary school replaced 3 aging campuses and created a new, unified facility for grades K–5. The 2-story, 129,069 square foot building is located where one of the previous campuses stood, so careful consideration was given during construction to ensure minimal disruptions to students, staff, and parents. Curriculum alignment, student access to technology, individualized instruction, and excitement for learning has flourished in the new campus.


Classrooms are oversized and grouped by age, making collaborative learning easier. Upper grade rooms are embedded with a “Think Tank,” a private breakout space allowing for responsive student remediation without having to pull a child from the classroom. Younger grade classes feature wobble stools and flexible seating, letting students stay active and engaged. Integrated technology and 1:1 allows for self-directed digital learning and real time monitoring.


The new campus has a 1200-student capacity, impacting more kids than any other campus in the district. The double volume media center has averaged 175 students at lunch per day with a circulation of over 45,000 books this school year. Staffing, utilities, transportation, and equipment costs are more efficient, reduce the District’s carbon footprint, and maximize value. Durable finishes and timeless design ensure that this campus will inspire elementary age students for years.


The design incorporates high performance building components, such as low-flow fixtures, high efficiency HVAC, and daylight harvesting to conserve water and electrical usage. Common spaces and 95% of the classrooms feature natural light. No-wax flooring in the hallways, commons, and classrooms can be maintained without the use of abrasive chemicals, saving resources and promoting indoor air quality. The 2-story design minimizes the building’s footprint and saves on heating and cooling.


The community was founded due to railroad expansion in the late 1900s. Century-old buildings still stand in downtown. The arched acoustical panels used throughout and the train station details in the media center connect students to the town’s history in an age-appropriate way. Exterior masonry colors were selected to match the aesthetic of historic downtown structures. Natural light and 2 interior courtyards keep students connected to the outdoors, a source of great community pride.


Because the master plan consolidated 3 existing campuses, gathering input from 3 different staffing groups was critical. Everyone, including custodial and maintenance staff, took part in thorough conversations and idea mining sessions. The standardized classroom layout, building organization, individual building components, and community spaces were determined by consensus to ensure future flexibility. The planning process was also the first step in establishing a unified campus identity.

School Transformation

Previously, students were spread out among 3 different campuses. Two of those campuses were almost 60 years old with no HVAC in the restrooms or hallways. Technology and security was lacking. Now, curriculum alignment is seamless and teachers and students function as one learning community. The improved air quality has resulted in healthier, more attentive students with fewer absences. Robust technology gives students access to activities and virtual field trips well beyond the classroom.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner