Designing for Student Engaging Instruction at Jenks and Bethke Elementary Schools

Katy, Texas ' VLK announces the opening of Katy ISD's newest elementary schools, MayDell Jenks and Catherine Bethke Elementary. Students began the school year in these new state-of-the-art facilities on August 22nd. Jenks Elementary is located on Westridge Creek Lane and Bethke is located on East Ventana Parkway, both in Katy, TX.

In 2014, the Katy community voted to approve a bond referendum that included the construction of sixnew school campuses. Of those six, the district worked with VLK Architects to create a two-story prototype for three new elementary schools.

'MayDell Jenks Elementary School and Catherine Bethke Elementary School opened this year in Katy ISD and are both representative of a new prototype design, one which will present exciting learning opportunities for our students,' said Peter McElwain, Katy ISD's District Architect. 'The VLK Architects team supported us throughout the design process beginning with their contribution in a leadership role in a Design Symposium developed to help the district chart a course in the development of the new learning environment. The progressive, imaginative, and creative skills of VLK in conjunction with their customer services and inclusive culture were much valued ingredients in the development of the design. The design respects and embraces the environment. The excitement evident in the faces of the students and staff as they entered their new schools for the first time is a testament to the tremendous efforts and success of the design team.'

These new schools were designed to allow for ease of student circulation, facilitate supervision and administration, and provide a safe and secure learning environment. Each facility includes classroom wings or pods that are organized around the media center and situated between outdoor green spaces to promote collaboration and take advantage of the outdoor views. The green spaces also provide an age appropriate play area per grade level. Each classroom pod contains several classrooms, an activity center, restrooms, and teacher planning space. In the common areas, the student gallery and 'learning stairs' allow plenty of space for student use and activities.

'It was a pleasure to work with Katy ISD administration and staff on both Jenks and Bethke Elementary Schools, said Todd Lien, AIA, VLK Principal in Charge. 'We know that Katy ISD works tirelessly to provide their students with excellent learning opportunities. Our goal was to design a school specifically tailored for these young students to support engaging instruction and student-centered learning to match the high standard that Katy ISD has set and maintained since its inception.'