Lindbergh public to receive first peek inside new state-of-the-art elementary

Officials expect huge crowd for elementary’s open house

Lindbergh public to receive first peek inside new state-of-the-art elementary

By Gloria Lloyd

Lindbergh Schools’ state-of-the-art new Dressel Elementary School opens to students in a few weeks, and the public gets its first glimpse inside at an open house this week.

The nearly $22 million, 99,116-square-foot school, 10911 Tesson Ferry Road, is open to the public for self-guided tours from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2. Officials expect large crowds and encourage visitors to carpool if they can.

School starts Aug. 17, and the 650-student school will open at capacity, with more students expected to stream in as Lindbergh continues to see surging enrollment and more young families moving into the district.

Voters approved Dressel as Lindbergh’s sixth elementary school to address overcrowding as part of Proposition G, a $35 million bond issue in 2014 that also funded improvements to Lindbergh High School.

The new school is at the site of the original Dressel Elementary on Musick Road, which was torn down.

In the new Dressel, visitors will see not just a modern elementary school and an example of how education has changed since the decades past when other Lindbergh schools were built, but a vision for how education could be in the future.

Compared to Lindbergh’s older and more cramped schools, Dressel will be the “Taj Mahal on Tesson Ferry,” Principal Craig Hamby told the Crestwood-Sunset Hills Kiwanis Club last week.

One of the school’s most striking features are the walls of windows that allow natural light into the cafeteria, along with the full competition-size gymnasium, library, art room, hallways, all the classrooms and collaborative STEM areas similar to makerspaces. The many windows will energize students, allowing them to see outside while in class and in the gym, see into other classrooms and collaborate together in ways not possible at other schools and allowing students who learn differently to sit how and where they want, the principal said

Hamby comes to the school from Sappington Elementary, where he served as principal for seven years. In his 22nd year in education, working in a state-of-the-art school is an entirely new experience.

The school is monitored by 67 surveillance cameras, compared to nine at Sappington and 10 at Long Elementary. Visitors can speak on camera to get buzzed in, and they have to walk through the office.

Instead of hiding the building’s steel structural beams inside the structure like most buildings, Ittner Architects exposed the beams on the outside of the building and added benches inside the beams outside the library.

All of Dressel’s lighting is energy-efficient LEDs. The school will not apply for official LEED energy-efficient certification because it costs too much, but the building would qualify. Hamby predicts that the lights won’t even have to be turned on during the day in the school’s two-story cafeteria because the banks of windows will be enough.

“You can see the sunlight pouring in,” he said.

And as for the extra light in the classrooms, “I like it. It’s a full wall of windows, so just a lot of light coming into the classroom, making it bright and energizing the classroom.”

The school is divided into four wings, and each grade level gets a separate hallway, so fifth-graders never mix with kindergarteners. A classroom at the end of each hall is designed to be split into two when the school begins to approach the overcrowding of other Lindbergh elementary schools.

The classrooms are only 100 square feet larger than classrooms at Sappington, but they seem even bigger because of the windows and high ceilings, Hamby said.

Each classroom has a wall of windows and a wall of cabinets and cubbies that give each student their own spot and teachers lots of storage, solving a perennial teacher complaint about more conventional classrooms.

The new school is pioneering non-traditional seating options instead of the desks in rows that older residents might be more familiar with, the principal said. Bookshelves in the library are mobile to allow group collaboration.

“Over the years, we’ve started moving away from everyone’s not in their little cubicle sitting in rows anymore because we want to get the kids together working on stuff,” Hamby said. “Kids will move around. There’ll be rules and expectations for how we do it, but they’ll have different places where they sit.”