November 15, 2016 – Ground was broken for a new Pathways Middle School campus by West Ada School District, City of Meridian and Pathways’ Builders Club leadership earlier today in a special gold shovel ceremony. This new campus is the first permanent structure for the school in its nearly 10-year history.
“When you are in a school made up of portables, you are forced to use other peoples’ facilities to eat, hold assemblies, or have a student versus staff basketball game. It’s kind of like having family dinners at someone else’s house,” Principal Eric Eschen explained of their current campus. “We are an intervention program, but not a forced placement program, so our students interview and choose to come here. Which means they have to leave an environment they know for someplace they do not know. Coming to a site which is temporary in nature adds an extra level of uncertainty. This new building is foundational for our program's permanency.”
Pathways serves 7th and 8th-grade students who need a different learning environment than the traditional middle school. The unique school structure gives students more personalized attention, helping them become more organized and supporting them through academic struggles. The layout of the new campus offers a more flexible learning environment as well.
“The school has a large central area which avoids tight hallways leading to classrooms – many students do not like feeling cramped while moving to classes. Each of the classrooms has an exterior door so students can take a break from class and step outside for a quick porch break to pull themselves together and get back to learning,” Eschen shared.
Pathways students prefer alternative seating arrangements, so the school went away from the traditional student desk in every classroom and have studied unconventional seating or standing desks in order to keep students focused on their work.
A unique common area in the school will serve many purposes throughout the school day: student hang out, dining area, science lab space, Maker Space lab, and more. Larger art and consumer science rooms enable more engaged learning, since every student participating will have the space to take part in projects. Small spaces are also important on campus, as they give students a quiet place to study or work on group projects.