Megan Cope Elementary’s Media Center Gets a Modern Facelift
- August 30, 2023
- Sean Downey
When Emily Price, Ed.D., came onboard as Megan Cope Elementary School’s new principal in 2021, she quickly learned that the San Jacinto, Calif.-based school’s library was in need of a media center modernization. After speaking with Renee Moore, the school’s library media tech specialist, about some of the simpler steps that could be taken, the pair sat down and devised a modernization plan.
“I was coming from a school district that had renovated its media center and it was a game-changer,” said Price. “Using elements like soft and flexible seating, the media center was transformed into a space that engaged the whole school community.”
Moore, who runs the school’s makerspace and gifted programs, worked with Price to come up with ways to maximize the current media center space and make it more inviting and engaging for both students and teachers. “We started talking about what we could do to spice this library up,” says Price, who spoke with the assistant superintendent of educational services about potential funding for the project.
They also assembled a library committee made up of teachers and administrators; discussed the changes that they wanted made; and sketched out their ideas. “Everyone shared ideas of how they wanted to use the new media center for both classroom and collaboration space,” said Price. “They also wanted more tech features installed and room for the makerspace.”
The COVID-19 epidemic would temporarily move those ideas to the backburner, but the idea was rekindled once students were back in class and learning on campus again. Towards the end of 2022, Price began exploring the funding opportunities. She met with the district cabinet team, which pledged to support the project and requested a preliminary plan for it.
“Renee and I got together, and she made a diagram of how she envisioned the library according to the original feedback we got from teachers,” said Price. “She presented a whole map with cutouts glued onto it to show everyone what we had in mind.”
After receiving an email from MiEN, Price conferred with her colleagues about the value of using MiEN Company as a design partner for the new media center. MiEN set up a meeting and sent a rep to discuss how the process works; share photos and layouts of various successful school projects; and present the different furniture manufacturers that the MiEN Company works with.
“Once we got into the process of picking the furniture and the design, MiEN came out to take pictures; they were very thorough,” said Price. “They also got a better feel for what we’re really looking at and our culture here.”
On the school’s wish list was a SEL learning space that could serve as an “extension” of the classroom, and with a particular focus on literacy. “Improving our student’s reading abilities and literacy skills has been one of our main pushes over the last few years because our data indicated we really needed to have literacy at the forefront,” said Price. “What better place than the library as that space?”
“We wanted the kids to come in for library time, pick up a book and get excited about reading in a warm, cozy space,” Moore added. The school also wanted to be able to use the media center as a space for parent engagement and parent meetings—and for staff to be able to come in and get their work done. Teachers would also be using the facility for weekly staff and leadership team meetings.
Today, Megan Cope Elementary School’s media center is a modern, inviting space where teachers, administrators and students go to read, collaborate, teach, learn, and socialize. The space is equipped with an ample number of power stations that students can use to power their Chromebooks and teachers use to charge their computers.
All of the furniture and bookshelves are wheeled, which means teachers can move them around to accommodate the immediate learning environment. Price especially likes the space’s amphitheater seating and leveled benches.
“I’m excited to see the kids use them; I feel like the aesthetic of the design of the different flexible seating pieces that we chose is very inviting,” said Price, who also likes the whiteboard tables and other modern pieces of furniture in the space. “The various options that MiEN gave us in terms of seating and tables met our needs perfectly.”
To other schools or districts that want to modernize their existing media centers, Price said a good first step is to get buy-in and to hear what’s important to the people who are going to spend the most time in the space. And when the final “reveal” moment arrives, making students part of the ribbing-cutting ceremony will get them involved and interested right from the get-go.
Then, ask students to share what they love about the new space in a type of “before and after” format. “We listened to what they love and what are the features of this new media center modernization space that makes them feel excited about being here,” said Price. “Having that buy-in, getting everybody involved and then getting the support from individuals who can help fund the project are some of the important steps we took to make this project a success.”