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Freshly painted walls and improved lighting for a more welcoming environment. New furniture. New sidewalk and resurfaced parking areas. New safety features. Upgraded science lab and refreshed auditorium.

Those are just some of the obvious physical improvements as Model Laboratory School begins its 112th year on the Eastern Kentucky University campus, the last 57 in the Donovan Building.

Behind the scenes at the Commonwealth’s only remaining laboratory school, even more changes are in the works as part of what new Superintendent John Williamson termed an “overall school revitalization.

“Model is an older facility, and while a thorough renovation is not feasible at this time, it was important to review and update the buildings to promote safety and a better learning environment,” said Williamson. “Model is a leader throughout the state in successful teaching and learning practices. As we work to renew and reinforce the mission of providing a world-class education, it is important that our students, employees and the public also see improvement in the physical appearance of our facilities that parallel the more comprehensive enhancement to our educational program.”

The academic enhancements run the gamut – from identifying and updating a space for a new orchestra and strings program and upgrading auditorium to expand the performing arts program, especially theater, to an upgraded science lab to accommodate new courses in forensic science, engineering and design. Collaboration spaces, he added, will allow for more integration and real-world application of learning – students are writing code and building apps, designing and creating robotics that perform tasks, and using maker spaces to create and innovate as part of their capstone projects.

Williamson said he hoped the revitalization “says we are serious and intentional. We are committed to higher standards and setting those expectation for our students. We will empower students to independently transfer their learning to new and novel situations that require them to utilize their understanding, knowledge and skills. We will ensure that Model Laboratory School is a strong leader and an example of excellence across the state and nation.”

The new superintendent saluted EKU Facilities Services staff members for their diligence through the summer months. “The employees who worked on this project were amazing, and the amount of work that was completed in a short time is phenomenal.”

Williamson also credited school employees and EKU administrators, who “have voiced support for the vision and mission of Model. Their support is valued and will be key in establishing the overall school program as the best in the state.”

The physical and programmatic improvements will continue throughout the school year, according to Williamson.    

In addition to Williamson, David Naylor joined the Model leadership team as principal of the elementary school (grades 1-5). Laura Dedic directs the secondary level (grades 6-12).