Cumberland Elementary School kindergarten teacher Pauline Meyer is excited by all the space she has in her new full-day kindergarten classroom.
Meyer is teaching in one of the eight new modular classrooms that were constructed in School District 71.
“It’s a lot different than when I was in school last time in a small class,” she said. “For kindergarten, you need so much room and you need so many areas for play. With this modular, I can have different zones for play … there’s a lot of activity, but you can’t tell.”
Kindergarten focuses on play-based learning, and in Meyer’s modular, different play areas have been set up around the classroom.
“That’s really important in kindergarten, for kids to have space to play,” said Meyer.
The new modulars have floor-to-ceiling windows, coloured panels on the ceiling and wood finish, and Meyer appreciates how bright the room is.
“It’s nice to have a nice, new space to be in,” she said. “In five years teaching in the district, I’ve never had a space like this. To have the opportunity to teach here is amazing. It’s exciting, and the parents are excited, too.”
Meyer says her 19 students are also very happy with the new space.
“They’re really enjoying the space and the opportunity just to play and have their own areas without being cramped,” she said.
As the first person to teach in this room, Meyer had a chance to set it up the way she wanted, and School District 71 fully equipped her room and the other seven modulars in the Comox Valley, providing a budget for teachers to pick out what they wanted, noted Allan Douglas, the district’s director of elementary instruction.
“It really makes a difference to how I feel,” said Meyer. “It’s like Christmas.”
The Ministry of Education funded eight modulars in School District 71, including three at École Puntledge Park Elementary, two at Cumberland Elementary, one at Arden Elementary and two at École Robb Road Elementary schools, while the school district built its own modular classroom at Valley View Elementary School, explained Douglas.
They are fully contained units, and they feature a washroom, sinks for the students and for the teacher, and numerous cupboards.
The provincial Ministry of Education began phasing in universal access to full-day kindergarten last year, and full-day kindergarten is now available for all five-year-olds in B.C.
This year, there are 508 full-day kindergarten students in the Comox Valley. More than 135 new modular classrooms have been installed in 25 school districts around the province.
The modulars, which feature wood finish on the exterior and interior and are designed to be energy-efficient, are built to last about 40 years — the same as a conventional classroom, according to the Ministry of Education.