Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Monday, October 29, 2012

On MHS Science Labs: October 24th, 2012

These were my takeaways:

* If we want our students to receive the kind of science, technology, and engineering education that will make them successful in whatever post-secondary experience they choose, top-notch science labs are fundamental to the inquiry-based teaching and learning required. That is why this project is so important for our students and families.

* Just a few of the improvements that students and staff will experience: natural and artificial lighting that is appropriate for lectures and/or experiments; a separate chemical storage room so teachers can remove only what will be needed for the day’s experiment; computers at lab stations so students can input data in real-time and teachers can gauge how the experiment is progressing; key safety provisions like in-room showers and warm-water eye-baths in case of chemical spillage (an extreme rarity!); handicap-accessible lab stations; flexibility to add furniture/fixtures that could be needed in the future but aren't even invented yet.

* Student safety during the demolition/rebuild is the top priority. There will be CORI checks for all on-site workers. There will be an air-quality clearance before students return to school after February vacation (when demolition will be complete). The sharing of space by middle- and high-schoolers will be coordinated appropriately (and the administration has experience in this area based on the prior middle school demo/rebuild).

The strength of the partnership among Superintendent Taymore, City Planner Denise Gaffey, Interim Principal Marianne Farrell, Science Department Chair Julie Shea, along with the project architect and project managers is clear. They are running under extremely tight deadlines and working with incredible focus and effort in order to improve science, technology, and engineering education at Melrose High School