Hyer Elementary’s New Facilities Come With Nods To Tradition

Rebuilt school offers spaces for students to collaborate, spread out, innovate

While Hyer Elementary Huskies returned to a newly-rebuilt building in September, some traditions, like parents and children eating together in Balto’s Courtyard, remain.

“Balto’s Courtyard has always been a very special place that families would get to (use) when they came for lunch,” principal Debbie Burt said. “They would get to take their kiddo out into the courtyard and have lunch, and so we have a redesigned Balto’s Courtyard.”

Balto is the school’s mascot, and a legacy committee helped ensure traditions, like the courtyard, were preserved in the rebuild, Burt said.

The rebuild, part of the Highland Park ISD 2015 bond issue, required Hyer’s temporary relocation to the district’s fifth elementary campus, now home to Boone Elementary, until the Caruth Boulevard campus was ready. 

“Balton’s Courtyard has always been a very special place that families would get to (use) when they came for lunch.”

Debbie Burt

“We’re a two-story building right now instead of a one-story building,” Burt said. “We just have incredible, incredible facilities, very new, very fresh.”

She said the PTA was ‘instrumental’ in funding upgrades for the building, which boasts two new playgrounds, one still under construction.

Burt said the campus is also working on a garden to use as part of the elementary curriculum. The science teacher had a greenhouse on campus before.

“I know that she worked with the kids as part of her curriculum in the greenhouse,” Burt said. “In the past, we’ve had onions and carrots.”

The new building also has more multi-use space for each grade level.

“Sometimes small groups are pulled into that area; sometimes grade levels or classes partner up to do things in that area,” Burt said. “Having the flexible learning space in each grade level pod has really provided an opportunity for kids and teachers to collaborate more but also (allowed) additional space for kids to spread out.”

There’s also a stage in the cafeteria to allow for performances or guest speakers.

“Our cafeteria is really big and spacious, and I think it allows a lot of opportunity for flexibility in how we set up student seating in there, but also I think the larger space allows for more efficient processes in the cafeteria,” Burt said.

The campus also has an innovation lab where students can do things like work with robotics.

“Having that space for kids has allowed for a lot of problem-solving, collaboration,” Burt said. “The kids have opportunities to be innovative, and they have opportunities to try things, and then find a better solution, and so it’s a really great opportunity for divergent thinking and kids also learn some persistence and grit in those experiences.”

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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