Sara Swanson

21st Century Learning Hub to be built at Klager for 5th & 6th graders

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While much of the building consolidation conversation has revolved around the 7th and 8th grades moving to the High School and the change for the recent 6th and 7th graders, who expected to be returning to the Middle School in the fall, the 5th and 6th grades moving to Klager in the fall means a big change for the recent 5th graders. After a year of Middle School, these students will be returning to Klager for one more year of elementary school. And, although it has been discussed publicly less, an equal amount of work has been going on to ease this transition. In fact Friday, the Manchester Community Schools Foundation announced they will be funding a 21st Century Learning Hub, a new space in Klager specifically designed for 5th and 6th graders.

Foundation member Theresa Herron explained, “It started with a conversation between Julie Charney, the speech-language pathologist for Klager Elementary School and Manchester Middle School; Karin Villarreal, the Klager principal; and Ron Tindall, a teacher at Klager. They were brainstorming ways to help the older students feel welcomed and supported by the school, as the district moves through a building reconfiguration plan that will repurpose the Middle School and move the 5th and 6th grades back down to the elementary school.”

A grant proposing a “21st Century Learning Hub” was the result of that conversation. Charney teamed up with current Middle School teachers Erica Kranz, Terri Punches, Kerry Wolf, Brett Whalen, Lois Bohl and Nick Niehaus (who will be teaching Middle School classes next year), to write the proposal. They submitted a grant proposal to the Manchester Community Schools Foundation and the Foundation approved it.

The space will include wall-mounted drop leaf tables and a variety of seating, set up in an airy atrium on one end of the wing of the school where 5th and 6th grade classrooms will be housed. This will be a special area that can only be used by the older students.

Charney explained the title of the proposal: “The school district’s vision statement is ‘A caring community developing future-ready students,’ and we want the 5th and 6th graders to be able to learn and use 21st century learning habits: collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, critical thinking, and problem solving.” She hopes the students will feel like they are going someplace cool, not just back to the school they’ve known as younger students. Charney continued, “Teachers at Klager are excited to welcome the 5th and 6th graders back to their building. It has given us an opportunity to help them feel like they are an important part of this learning community.”

The Manchester Community Schools Foundation is a non-profit group dedicated to providing funds for projects and items outside the district’s operating budget. The Foundation awards the money it raises via grants written by teachers and staff of the Manchester Community Schools. You can support Manchester Community Schools Foundation by going to and clicking on the “donate” button. You can also find more information about events and grants at the MCSF Facebook page.

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