Badger Rock kicks off year in temporary facility

The school building: still under constructionThe school building: still under construction

Plans for Badger Rock Middle School have been in the works for over two years and as classes started on September 1, they came one step closer to frutition.

The school currently has 50 sixth grade students; next year, a new group of students will replace the current class as they advance to seventh grade. Eventually, the school will support 150 students in grades six through eight.

But although classroom sessions are in full swing, a few modifications stand between current operations and the school reaching its final goal.

Ultimately, the school will function within a multi-use building that will also house a neighborhood center, commercial kitchen, café, and community gardens where residents of all ages can gather.

Because the facility has not yet been completed, however, students have been gathering across the street in a space rented from Books4Schools, a company that sells educational materials to schools across the United States and serves as a valuable resource for local teachers.

The location, noted Nan Youngerman, Governing Council President of Badger Rock Middle School, has been beneficial for the students and staff.

“We are quite excited that the facilities offer as much space as they do, and by location allow us to study the construction of our future site and purchase books at a moment’s notice,” she said.

Youngerman added that organization has been key to the succesful launching of the school.

“These first two weeks are ‘Who’s on first?’, ‘Do we have all our staff members here?’, ‘What are we all about?’” she said.

She also explained that challenges, such as sharing an off-site principal with another school and not having a kitchen in the current facility, have been overcome by teamwork and ingenuity. Meals, for example, are delivered to Badger Rock by the school district and, because of the lack of an on-site principal, a lead teacher steps in to make sure things are coordinated.

Working with teachers and staff to ensure that they feel prepared has also been crucial to keeping things running smoothly.

“The teachers are really the newest piece that we’ve hired so they haven’t been part of the planning for two years. Right now we’re bringing in all of the staff and communicating the mission,” noted Youngerman. 

Volunteers help out at Badger RockVolunteers help out at Badger RockVolunteers also helped fill gaps that emerged during the beginning stages of classes. Youngerman herself worked as a cross guard during the start of classes, donning a yellow vest and helping to ensure that students safely crossed busy intersections.

Overall, the challenges have not caused any major disruptions to students' school day, as they continue receiving an education unique to Badger Rock.

“We are hoping to really have an impact on the community and a school is a wonderful place to start. Our style is really project-based, so kids are doing things,” said Youngerman.

Students at Badger Rock are excited to learn in their current classrooms and are enjoying being a part of the development of the new building. As students head to class each morning, often walking, biking or skateboarding because of the short distance from their homes, it is clear that they are eager to join their classmates for group readings and trips to the park that serves as a playground.

Youngerman also said that in the future, students will be working on a variety of projects, including meeting regularly with a field biologist to learn about the neighborhood’s natural areas.

While the educational practices of Badger Rock are new, the concept of an area school is not. The future Badger Rock Facility is taking the place of an older school named “Badger School” that has not been in session for many years.

Martha White, a resident who now works for Center for Resilient Cities, recalls passing by the former school during her youth and thinking of how convenient it would be to attend classes in the area. Now that Badger Rock has opened, she is excited to see the opportunities it brings for area students.

 “When I was a little kid I would be like, "Mom, why can’t I go to Badger School? It would be so cool if I could walk to school!" It was really nice to see that there’s a school built here and it’s open now and the kids are really enthusiastic about it,” she said.