Oftentimes, people assume that active duty soldiers are the only ones allowed on a military installation. Many people see military bases as a training and working ground for soldiers who are deployed far away from their families. Sometimes that’s true, but military bases, like Fort Jackson, often also play home to a soldier’s family, so all the same amenities of civilian life, such as grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants are available on bases.
One amenity that also has to be available to military families is schools. That’s why the Charleston District is overseeing its newest construction project at Fort Jackson; the building of the new Pierce Terrace Elementary School.
“Pierce Terrace is a much needed upgrade to improve the quality of life of the Army families who sacrifice and uproot themselves a lot,” said Eric Jones, project engineer.
The new Pierce Terrace will be 40 percent larger and will be the educational home for up to 325 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first- and second-grade students on Fort Jackson. The new school will meet the Department of Defense Education Activity’s criteria for a “21st Century School Design,” meaning it’s guided by six themes that promote student success; Flexible and Adaptable Facility, Facility as a Teaching Tool and Teaching Environment, Differentiated Learning, Multiple Modalities, Multidisciplinary Teaching, and Real World Skills Development.
“DoDEA worked for over a year to make this school so that it could be reconfigured for different teaching methods,” said Jones. “Walls can be moved and teachers can move around to change their teaching style based on if it is a collaborative learning or lecture type group of students.”
Pierce Terrace is designed to be adaptable and expandable to accommodate the number of students in each grade level each year. Students are grouped into “neighborhoods,” meaning their grade has its own section of the school. If one year there is a higher ratio of students in one grade to another, the school’s floorplan can be adjusted to expand that particular neighborhood just by moving partitions.
Construction of Pierce Terrace will be concentrated in a small area, where all construction traffic will be routed outside of the surrounding neighborhoods and only the minimum number of trees and grade will be cleared.
“We’re going to keep as many mature trees as possible,” said Jones. “There will also be a natural wooded buffer between the bus driveway and the neighborhood.”
Additionally, the school will be LEED Silver Certified, containing unique aspects such as a butterfly garden, outdoor learning amphitheater and an energy dashboard, which will monitor the energy use of each classroom as the students compete for who can use the least amount of energy.
The $27 million Pierce Terrace project is scheduled for completion in April 2019 and will ring its first bell in August for the 2019-2020 school year. At that time the old Pierce Terrace Elementary School will be demolished and restored to a natural area.