Frisco ISD—Debra Nelson Middle School
A fast-growing school district with more than 55,000 students currently enrolled has built more than 30 schools in the last ten years. To support this fast growth, Nelson Middle School is a progression of a school prototype, accommodating 1,000 sixth through eighth grade students. The school includes classroom communities, an outdoor courtyard and supporting spaces that support the district’s focus on individual student success.
Key to the district’s educational model is the “small school concept,” regulating class and school sizes to ensure that each student receive a personalized education to allow relationships between peers, teachers and students. This concept is emphasized through collaborative classroom communities that activate the educational experience. Additionally, the school creates an open, welcoming atmosphere for users through transparent interior spaces that flow into the central courtyard.
A flexible, open layout allows the district to adapt as learning styles and pedagogy change. Responsive site planning facilitates shared spaces and the modified design allows for after-hour student and neighborhood activities. Cost-savings measures include low-maintenance and locally-sources materials as well as daylight harvesting, resulting in more than $168,700 in energy costs savings in the last year.
Recognized by EnergyStar as one of the leading campuses in the country for energy conservation, the campus promotes the health and well-being of the users through implementing energy-saving technologies and cultivating student ambassadors. Students can monitor utility usage at their school through the district’s website. ICF walls, low-e glass, strategic shading and efficient geothermal HVAC strategies allowed the district to reduce their consumption by 1,522,255 kWh from the previous year.
Key to the district’s strategic plan is to provide meaningful, yet challenging curriculum that promotes student success and performance. The small-school model mirrors this goal by allowing students to receive a personalized education through smaller class sizes and one-on-one attention. The school creates a sense of place by emphasizing the traditional values of the surrounding community and encouraging community engagement through shared communal spaces.
A key driver of the district’s growth is their small-school model, which allows students to create customized learning opportunities, resulting in more well-rounded, future-ready students. The middle school’s maximum enrollment is 1,000 students, which allows them to retain personalized education through immense growth. Community involvement throughout was pivotal to the design’s success Collaborative meetings, design charrettes and community surveys were employed to drive design decisions.
To train the workforce of the future, the district created opportunities for experience and growth through varied learning environments. Classrooms incorporate adaptive spaces where students can gather in small groups and customize the environment based on the need, while libraries and common areas use collaborative furniture solutions. Integration of technology throughout the school using WAN (Wide Area Network) allows instructional programs to be delivered on demand through video streaming.
Star of Distinction Category Winner