Designed to serve 240 students from fifth grade to eighth grade, the new GLEAMS Leadership Academy is a program response to SCORE (Serving and Creating Opportunities Redesigned with Equity) in Communities, a nonprofit corporation advocating for equity in education, closing opportunity and achievement gaps, and positively impacting change for underserved communities. With a future location in Henrico County, Virginia, GLEAMS will serve as a full-service school that will cultivate young leaders to thrive in their community, promoting a commitment to academic, social, economic, environmental and civic excellence. The goal of the planning and design process was to meet SCORE in Communities’ vision that “All students will receive a dynamic, relevant and unparalleled education that guarantees choices and opportunities today and in the future.”
Students at GLEAMS will have opportunities for immersive learning. Focus on specialty areas of government, literacy, economics, arts, math and science will bolster student knowledge and understanding of these subjects and will help them to see themselves as leaders in their communities who can make real change. Classes will employ project-based and student-directed learning, where classrooms can turn into mock courtrooms, maker spaces into science labs, courtyards into greenhouses. Curriculum for each grade level and class has been developed by Columbia University experts and highlights cross-curricular elements, reinforcing and intertwining each subject with the next.
While academics will be the priority at GLEAMS, students will also receive social and emotional support through the curriculum, staff and a building supporting wellbeing. The design of the new school will include flexible areas outside of the classrooms for collaborative and inclusive work, and spaces for students who may need time to themselves in times of higher stress. Building materials will be sustainable, healthy, and of high quality to reflect the value that SCORE sees in each individual student who will walk through the doors. The design will display sustainable features that will be evident to its occupants, creating awareness and stimulating involvement in actions that can better their direct environment. Students will be celebrated for the work completed and goals achieved, which in turn will instill confidence in individuals.
In addition to a focus on academics, the SCORE vision supports the whole student. A gymnasium and playing field will support athletics and physical wellness, along with a fitness space with flexible uses. An auditorium will serve as a gathering area for celebratory events and student productions. The strong focus on literacy is evidenced by the Media Center adjacent to the main entry. In addition to traditional services, the Media Center will also include video production with a greenscreen for student use. An open, café-style dining space invites connection, and opens to an outdoor dining courtyard, and a teaching kitchen allows students to learn basic culinary skills. A green roof is planned outside of the classroom suites to support outdoor learning opportunities. Classrooms will include flexible furnishings to allow for different methods of teaching and what may best suit the class on any given day. Educational centers of art, science, government, and financial / technology focus will also have dedicated breakout and collaborative areas for extended learning.
In addition to the various areas supporting students and teachers, GLEAMS will also house an office suite for the SCORE in Communities partnership. This office will give a home base to SCORE to collaborate with parents of students attending GLEAMS, as well as community members who also need additional support for themselves or for their students. By providing a building that can empower student learning and support a variety of needs, SCORE is actively leveling the playing field for underserved communities. The result will be engaged, confident students who can become amazing leaders.
GLEAMS Leadership Academy is in development by SCORE in Communities, Clark Nexsen (architecture and engineering), S.B. Ballard Construction Company, and Timmons Group (civil engineering)