Opening its doors for the first time in August 2008, the new state-of-the-art campus reflects our deeply held belief that the physical environment serves as a child’s “third teacher.” Our Guiding Principles served as the primary inspiration for weaving architectural opportunities together with our vision to serve as a leader in early learning and elementary education. Every inch has been meticulously planned with an eye for function, beauty, and cost. St. Thomas School is LEED® Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. STS is the first school to receive accreditation under the LEED for Schools program in Washington, second to receive accreditation under the LEED for Schools program in the country, and one of only 50 currently LEED Gold accredited projects in the entire state of Washington.
If you leave your mouse on the video, you will see a description of each image in the lower left side of the player.
Primary achievements include:
We take seriously the intention behind every financial contribution to our programs and facilities, and carefully consider every dollar we spend. The new campus is a significant investment and we believe our new campus should serve families for generations to come: The steel frame building, adaptable learning spaces, and premium technology infrastructure will provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate future trends, while the innovative design and high quality materials ensure the campus will stand the test of time.
Children learn best with an abundance of natural light: 28 skylights and ingenious light shafts saturate the interior spaces with light, even on the cloudiest of days.
Fresh air impacts learning: Ventilation levels far exceed code requirements and fresh air is brought deep into the school via operable windows and unique ventilation chambers.
Children are better able to distinguish letter sounds and instructions, and are less fatigued, when environmental sounds are kept to a minimum: Fresh and heated air circulates as a result of natural convection currents created by “chimneys” located strategically on the roof, thereby eliminating the background sounds of fans and motors.
Color matters! Colors throughout the school help unite the various grade levels, encourage a sense of belonging within each division, and celebrate the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Elements of color are carefully balanced by natural color and wood tones, creating a calming environment.
Children of different ages have different learning needs:
The early learning classrooms have children’s kitchens, observation rooms, appropriately-sized furniture, and developmentally appropriate bathrooms designed for the youngest children;
The display of learning material supports children’s developing sense of responsibility and underscores the importance of access to hands-on materials;
Elementary classrooms support students’ growing autonomy with lockers for the oldest students and classrooms designed to support teacher-centered as well as activity-based learning;
Plazas throughout the school provide unique learning areas where students can work collaboratively, engage in creative exploration, and display culminating projects, papers, and presentations
The learning environment must support children’s emotional needs. The classrooms and plazas feel like “home,” due to use of floor and table lamps, cozy corners and lofts, and an abundance of natural materials. As children enter each plaza, unique portals greet children and visitors and convey a sense of belonging.
Technology is a tool that supports the development of research, organizational, and thinking skills. The entire campus is wireless supporting a robust laptop program in the Upper Division, SMART Boards are located in all learning and presentation areas, the library catalog system is fully online, the high speed network and Internet access gives us the ability to go beyond our classrooms for learning experiences.
Children’s brains and bodies need physical exercise and unstructured opportunities to develop social skills: The outdoor play areas support the varying physical abilities of students, provide for the development of upper and lower body strength through specifically designed climbing equipment, and naturally engage students in movements that develop balance and body awareness through natural landscaping.
We have a responsibility to capitalize on children’s natural love of the outdoors and provide opportunities for them to become stewards of their environment:
STS has been awarded LEED Gold certification, a public statement of our commitment to reducing our energy consumption and our use of environmentally friendly building materials;
The campus is considered an outdoor “classroom” and the spring garden, bio-swale, roof top garden, and a council ring for outdoor lessons and meetings, provide rich opportunities to observe, experiment, and connect to nature;
A children’s garden allows children to naturally tend to plants, while observing the natural life cycles of various plants and flowers.
Visual arts, library, technology, foreign language, music, and physical education are deeply embedded into the academic program and the new campus is purposefully built to fully support these exemplary programs;
The Commons includes a stage with wonderful acoustics, and appropriate lighting, projection, and sound equipment.
The spectacular new science lab, technology center, and media production room reflects our commitment to exploration, investigation, and discovery.
The education of young children is the most important and honorable profession of all: A professional work environment makes a difference and the new campus provides our dedicated faculty and staff with work and meeting spaces that embrace an abundance of natural light, fresh air, and adequate storage for projects and planning materials.
Parental involvement in school is critical to children’s success in school: To support parents’ volunteer work and to nurture a sense belonging, the campus includes a stunning Parent Association office and an inviting coffee bar.
“The ‘LEED Certification Mark’ is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used by permission.”