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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Butler Did It: A Successful Execution of a New Design

School remodel gives students and teachers a top-notch facility.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team

The Benjamin Franklin Butler Middle School of Technology in Lowell, Massachusetts, which opened in 1992.

Credit: Butler Middle School of Technology

The new Benjamin Franklin Butler Middle School of Technology in Lowell, Massachusetts, replaced a facility built in 1882. "It was a brick building like one you'd visualize in a scene created by Charles Dickens," says Principal Harry Kouloheras. "The new facility has moved us from the nineteenth century into the twenty-first century."

A group of teachers, parents, administrators, university professors, community members, and architects collaborated to design this inner-city school which serves 560 students. The group wanted the building's design to support their vision of teaching and learning.

They embraced ideas such as: all students can learn; they learn best when they work together in mixed groups; students can learn more by initiating, designing, and producing than by just sitting and listening; and teachers are managers of information rather than disseminators of facts.

The finished facility, opened in 1992, features a video and data network that carries resources to every classroom.

"I taught at the old school for twenty-seven years," says life science teacher Bill Gianoulis. "Students could only get information from my lectures and demonstrations or the textbook. Moving to the new school was like I'd died and gone to heaven."

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