Open concepts and natural light fill the space with a warm sense and a feeling of possibility. It’s the kind of feeling you get when stepping into a bright library, ready to make the moves of accomplishment and get ready for the future. This isn’t a modern art gallery or a designer home. It’s Minett Elementary in Frisco, Texas. 

Minett Elementary is more than just another elementary school: the way they teach is different compared to other schools in the Frisco district, or even in Texas. 

Orthodox, this isn’t. A new way of learning has entered the classrooms and filled children’s minds with new ideas and the possibilities of unlimited potential. Minett Elementary has begun working to find a new and better way of teaching future generations. 

The teachers and staff at Minett were somewhat nervous about this style of learning because it has never really been done before. Other schools have had their own ideas for unconventional schooling, but Minett has brought together multiple ideas to create something original. Before the process of starting the school began a visioning committee was formed with Frisco ISD board members, teachers, principals and members of the community. They were able to discuss different ideas and explore what Minett could look like as an open-concept school. 

“We researched schools all over the world and then presented them to each other,” says Principal Kyla Prusak, who has worked in the Frisco ISD for 15 years. The grown woman sitting in a children’s spinning chair, proves her dedication to the students and school. “Based on what we saw elsewhere we could figure out what exactly kids need.”

The open floor plan gives students the opportunity to not stay in one place and move freely to a variety of learning pods. These pods are placed around the school and include a variety of wobble chairs, benches, pillows and other furniture to settle in. Students are separated into areas for the grade and they are allowed to go anywhere in the primary color-coordinated area during work time. One teacher explained that the school creates more opportunities for the kids and allows them to have control over their education. 

“This is the best school in the entire district,” says Katelyn Harbour, who is in her third year of teaching in the Frisco area. “It preps kids to know what is best for them and how to be a future-ready learner and you can see kids selecting where they work best.”

The glass walls do not only brighten the building and warm the air: they are functional for teachers to keep an eye on the kids. Students also take advantage of the glass design and use bright-colored dry-erase markers to solve math problems on walls and doors, without the worry of leaving permanent marks. The teachers of Minett are involved in the student’s curriculum and want them to succeed, even crawling on the floor with them as the kids work. 

“They really do know what they need and they are able to make those choices and the kids do have a lot of control and awareness,” Harbour says. “Their independence level will continue to increase once they get to middle school and high school. By the time they are in college they are ready.”

For the particular lesson the kids are working on, there is one lead teacher and a co-teacher. The lead teacher presents the lesson and teaches in a similar style to a more conventional school, while the secondary teacher is able to work one-on-one with the students. The school has also recently experimented with student-led teaching, which may seem contradictory, but allow for the older students to mentor the younger ones and learn together in a way that brings a sense of community. 

“Everything is inclusive,” Harbour gushed about the school. “If somebody needs that extra help we can be there for them.” The school model also allows kids to explore their needs independently to learn how to solve problems. “Having a choice on their learning and having the option to choose where in the school they learn you can see them more focused and more engaged and wanting to do what’s best because of the flexibility.”

“I really like how much freedom we have,” says fifth grader Copper Spohn, sitting on the ground with counting blocks. “We get to move around during the day while we work.”

Like many of the kids around the bright school, Spohn has many dreams of what he wants his future to look like. When he grows up he hopes to be an electrical engineer so he can continue to work with equations and math. Other students dream of being famous movie stars and singers, hoping to dazzle the world with their gifts. Here, in a school without walls, those dreams seem limitless and even somehow possible. 

Minett Elementary may be a new school and have an unusual concept, but they are working to set kids up for the future. Even though the style of learning may look different from the outside, it is evident that these students work hard to get the best education possible. 

Other schools across Texas have reached out to the staff of Minett about their style of teaching, in hopes of gaining inspiration from them. In the future, we may continue to see children taking a larger role in the methods of their learning and finding their own voices to advocate for their education.