Faubion Elementary students returning to a whole new school

Faubion Elementary - KATU news photo

Students will return to Faubion Elementary School on August 30 after being off the property for two years of renovations.

Just a few finishing touches were being put into the hallways, classrooms and grounds at Faubion when KATU stopped in for a preview visit a couple weeks before school started.

Some students will return for the 2017-18 school year to a brand new, three-story building that many of them had a part in helping design. The school was demolished and rebuilt as part of the 2012 Portland Public Schools Bond measure.

It's a unique space that doesn't have an overwhelming institutional feel, by any means. The building has a large open atrium upon entering. There are skylights that run the height of the building to let in lots of natural light. Floors and walls are more natural with stone and wood.

“We have huge windows looking into our classrooms and outside. This way our kids can see college kids going to class, and college kids can see what it’s like to go to school and teach in a school,” said Principal, Jen McCalley.

Students and parents were allowed to submit ideas to the architects, and some of those ideas will be evident in the finished product.

“This building was community built, community designed. And so I can point to features in this building and tell you the name of the parent who thought of that idea, or the name of the student who had that idea,” McCalley added.

The three stairways are different colors, so students and visitors can easily find their way. The playgrounds, which were non-existent before, are now large and feature age and height appropriate equipment.

Soon children as young at 6 weeks and up to 14 years old will be using this new school. While it mainly houses pre-K to 8th graders, there are also daycare facilities, a health care clinic, food pantry and most of all college students.

Neighboring Concordia University contributed over $15 million to the reconstruction project. In addition to the 600-plus PPS students, the university's College of Education will now be housed within the school.

Students in the program will go to class, work with faculty and assist in the elementary classrooms as part of their curriculum. The program is a first of its kind public-private partnership the university is calling "3 to PhD." Other partners include Kaiser Permanente and Trillium Family Services.

The goal of the program is not only the education on both ends of the age scale, but to care for the whole student, making the school the heart of this Northeast Portland community.

McCalley can't wait for the kids to see it.

“I think everyone is excited to make this their space," she said. "I miss the kids. This is just a building without kids. So once we have kids, we’ll have a school.”

Community members and elected officials are celebrating the Grand Opening from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, August 29th. Find out more through the event Facebook page created by Concordia University.

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