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New innovation elementary school opens to Springdale students

Students are put into a more interactive learning atmosphere with couches, wall-less classrooms and dry erase board desks.

TONTITOWN, Ark. — Jim Rollins Elementary is the home of the trailblazers and the Springdale School District said the new school is already “blazing a trail” for innovated learning and teaching.

While construction isn’t quite finished at the Jim D. Rollins School of Innovation, students and teachers are already learning in a new way. The school curriculum is based on a New Zealand learning model.

Students are put into a more interactive learning atmosphere with couches, wall-less classrooms and dry erase board desks.

“It’s amazing I love how we have the open classrooms and it’s actually really fun,” said third-grade student Julie Johnson.

The new elementary school in Tontitown is part of the Springdale School District and has been in the works for about three years.

“It’s helped me learn better I can talk with people and help people learn,” Johnson said.

 According to principal Annette Thompson, the goal is to help kids find their learning powers and become more independent as students.

“They have to use their learner qualities like perseverance and grit and their teachers as a resource to help them figure things out and not quit, don’t say it’s too hard I can’t do this no it’s hard you haven’t learned it yet and so what are you going to do and how can I help you to make sure you do learn this and then once they learn we all celebrate and then it’s their job to go back in and learn again,” Thompson said.

The students have the opportunity to work with other classes and problem solve with their peers. 

Johnson said she loves coming to school every day and all of the opportunities given to her so far have made her interested in a few different career paths while also preparing her for the real world.

“There’s a lot of things that can just help us," Johnson said. "I keep going from being a clothes designer or being like an architect or something I don’t really know I have a lot of ideas right now I kind of want to be a musician."

The school is still finishing up construction on fun additions like a music stage and culinary lab. They’re expected to be completed by November.

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