Tawanka Elementary welcomes students

Tawanka enterance // Photo credits Madison Pickul

Madison Pickul, Features Editor

Tawanka Elementary School opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2016. The new building, now home to 760 kindergarten through fourth-grade students from Lower South Elementary and Oliver Heckman Elementary schools cost Neshaminy School District $13 million and took over a year to build before students could fill the halls.

The children are separated by “pods” designated for their grade, and they only interact with other grades during lunch and recess. Unlike past elementary schools in the district, students do not change classes for subjects, but instead spend the entire school day with the same teacher with exceptions for lunch and specials.

“It’s a lot of work, responsibility, and a great opportunity to open a brand new facility,” newly appointed Acting Principal Donald Palmer said.

Third grade teacher Danielle Tryon has taught for 15 years in the Neshaminy School District, and found a difference between teaching in a bigger versus a smaller school. “First we have to get used to two schools coming together with different teaching styles,” Tryon said.

Teachers had very little time to set up their brand new classrooms. Tryon had 107 boxes to unpack and wasn’t allowed in the building until Aug. 29 to set up due to renovations not being complete. They were expected to have everything done within three days versus having the whole summer like they did at their former schools.

“Teachers did a phenomenal job coming in setting up their classrooms in so little time,” Palmer commented.

“Class sizes are big, [are] overcrowded, and everything takes much longer,” teacher Beth McGinty said. “To some teachers the kids seem to be doing just fine and to others they say, “It’s like kindergarteners walking into high school.”