At Home in a New Classroom

Homewood High School

When Homewood High School teacher Melissa Dameron-Vines heard the news that she would be moving into a brand-new classroom, she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. A classroom becomes a sort of home away from home for a teacher, and Dameron-Vines had been in hers for 10 years. Plus, packing up a classroom while planning for the year ahead is a lot of work, and she wondered how different this new space could be. That all changed when she saw her classroom for the first time. 

“I actually walked in and just starting crying,” Dameron-Vines said. “It’s beautiful. The clean walls, the beautiful windows. I have not pulled my blinds down one time because it’s so pretty.”

Built in 1972, Homewood High School was expected to reach its full capacity of 1,200 soon, and news of a bond issue, a hastily assembled land use study and the hopes and dreams of many community members spun into grand plans for a new building. However, using a demographic study and a facilities assessment of each school, HPM determined that construction of a new facility exceeded the system’s needs and far outstripped its budget. Instead, we were able to draw up a plan for renovations, expansions and updates to all five schools in the district to anticipate population growth, provide newer and more functional facilities and address the top priorities laid out in community meetings and surveys—while staying within the available budget.

The high school received more than a dozen new classrooms, updated athletics and performing arts wings and interior renovations to modernize the overall facility. Improvements to building automation and access control will save the district maintenance time and money. 

For Dameron-Vines, a new classroom means updated technology, more storage along the walls and higher ceilings that make the room feel bigger. She said her favorite feature of the room, the large windows along one wall, seem to keep students engaged rather than distract them from their work, and everyone appreciates the natural light that pours in.

“The room has a good feel and it has truly been a joy to be in here since school started,” Dameron-Vines said. “Especially when things are so strange, it takes a little bit of that away and makes me feel really comfortable and happy.”