Wolfson High converts media center into relaxed ‘living room’ setting

Wolfson High converts media center into relaxed ‘living room’ setting
Wolfson Principal Terrence Connor joins Student Learning Center Clerk Tomme McConatha and Art Teacher Patricia Beach in the newly renovated student learning center at Samuel Wolfson School for Advanced International Studies and Leadership.

New signage and an electronic marquee outside, as well as a fresh new look for its media center, show evidence that subtle transformations are occurring at Samuel Wolfson School for Advanced International Studies and Leadership since it became a dedicated magnet last fall.

Gone are 50 desktop computers and the old, well-worn furniture that made the media center space more like a computer lab, said Wolfson Principal Terrence Connor. In its place are new carpeting, high-top tables, new bookcases and soft modular seating that can be arranged to accommodate small or large groups of students as need be.

The idea is to provide a “more relaxed” environment, somewhat like a “living room,” he said, noting the computers are still in use, having been dispersed to individual classrooms throughout the school. The cost of the renovation was more than $40,000, and was paid for by Duval County Public Schools, he said.

Seniors Maria Sattah of San Jose and Thomas Monisky of San Marco take advantage of some quiet study time in the newly renovated student learning center at Wolfson High School.

Seniors Maria Sattah of San Jose and Thomas Monisky of San Marco take advantage of some quiet study time in the newly renovated student learning center at Wolfson High School.

In order to reflect the change of focus, the media center’s name has been changed to “student learning center,” signaling a deliberate shift from a place filled with technology to a more traditional quiet place for students to study, do in-depth research using books or to just hang out.

“We used to use the space as an extra place to test kids and allow them to use technology,” said Connor. “Now it is serving as a quiet place to study, not as an additional technology lab. We’re bombarded with so much technology. The kids always have either a phone, laptop or computer in their face all the time. This space will give them the opportunity for quiet reflection and thinking time.”

Tomme McConatha, clerk in the student learning center, agrees. “It is more of a place to do traditional in-depth research, more like a professional college library,” she said.

At the start of this school year, Samuel W. Wolfson High School was transformed from a traditional neighborhood high school with an International Baccalaureate Program into a dedicated academically talented magnet school, which aims to be on par with Stanton College Preparatory School and Paxon School for Advanced Studies. The conversion to the magnet program will be gradual. This year’s freshman class is the first and only class to be fully involved in the magnet program this year, said Connor, noting each subsequent class will follow in its footsteps.

So far, the increased focus on academics has sparked behavior changes within the student body, said McConatha. “The students are more quiet, more focused, particularly the freshman class,” she said, adding, because it is involved in the magnet program, the freshmen class spends nearly all its time together, including lunch time. “The ninth graders help each other out. They have a pack mentality. They are like family,” she said.


By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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