Groundbreaking schools

Loma Ridge Elementary groundbreaking uncovers IUSD's commitment to technology and innovative learning spaces

by Tracy Childs

Irvine Unified School District schools are becoming so technologically advanced that even computer labs — once the embodiment of high-tech teaching and learning — are becoming objects of nostalgia.

“The traditional computer labs are becoming obsolete as we have portable devices in Chromebooks and iPads that all classrooms have access to,” said Stan Machesky, IUSD’s executive director of Elementary Education.

Want to see America’s schools of the future? Pay a visit to an IUSD facility near you.

Across the district, new and older schools are being designed and retrofitted, respectively, with technology and modern indoor and outdoor learning spaces — all with the goal of providing Irvine’s schoolchildren an education that prepares them to thrive in college and a rapidly changing world.

This commitment was on full display in late May as IUSD officials, community and business leaders broke ground on Loma Ridge Elementary School.

“Our schools are state-of-the-art and the envy of the entire state,” Superintendent Terry Walker told the audience, pulling no punches in making the case that IUSD leads the way in building schools of the future.

“It’s just going to be fabulous,” IUSD Board of Education President Sharon Wallin said about the district’s24th elementary school, which will welcome its first students in August 2019.

Irvine’s schools, Wallin added, are admired nationally because of a unique partnership that includes the city, Irvine Company, parents, principals, teachers and students.

“Our goal is to fill our state-of-theart facility with the latest, greatest and most relevant technology.”

– Jenna Berumen, Loma Ridge Elementary’s first principal

Located in the Village of Portola Springs, the school will feature expandable collaborative learning spaces to support large and small group instruction, individual labs focused on elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) teaching and learning, a high-tech library/media center, and outdoor learning and collaboration spaces.

This wave of technology and facilities-enhancement is rolling steadily across Irvine as IUSD retrofits older schools with new technologies and space upgrades to bring them up to par with newer schools.

From science labs and high-tech media centers, to flexible furniture and expandable collaborative teaching spaces, schools like Greentree, Stone Creek, Culverdale and others are being transformed to offer the modern resources and amenities that are built into the designs of newer schools like Loma Ridge, Jeffrey Trail and Cypress Village.

The technology and innovative learning spaces are helping IUSD usher in new approaches to teaching and learning, district officials say.

“Everyone learns differently; there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning,” said Kim Coffeen, IUSD’s director of Facilities Planning.

“These efforts allow for our facilities to be thoughtfully designed, collaborative and integrated, while emphasizing our student-centered approach to instruction.”

For IUSD, it is a winning approach dating back many years — but one that has always looked to the future.