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“The Nest,” installed across BISD

Soon eight elementary schools will be equipped with innovative learning labs. A high-tech STEM-centric space, called “The Nest,” was opened in May 2019 at Pietzsch-MacArthur Elementary and has served as the model The Nest 2space for more labs, two of which will open this month.
On Wed., Oct. 2, at 10:30 a.m. Blanchette Elementary at 2550 Sarah St. will open its lab, and

Wed., Oct, 9, at 10:30  a.m. Charlton Pollard Elementary at 825 Jackson St. will invite students into the school’s new space for the first time.

“The Nest,” evolved from a relationship between Lamar University and the neighborhood surrounding the campus, which includes Pietzsch-MacArthur. Several years ago, LU’s former First Lady Nancy Evans began promoting “Reading Wednesdays” at PMac. Every Wednesday Evans would visit with students and incite them to read. Soon afterwards, Evans helped organize LU education majors to regularly tutor the students.  That’s when it became obvious that a special room or space was needed to accommodate reading and individualized learning. At the insistence of Evans, Audrey Collins, principal at PMac was asked to “dream big” about a space that would meet the needs of her students.

“My battle cry has always been, your toughest kids deserve the best of everything so I asked for the best,” said Collins.

Because of that battle cry, kids across BISD will get the ‘best.’

Norman Bellard, Lamar University’s assistant to the president for community relations and founding member of the South Park Neighborhood Partnership and Teresa Simpson, chair for the LU/BISD Business Partnership took Colllins’ vision, enlisted community partners and sourced funding ($20,000+ for each room) to ensure elementary students across the district have benefit of “The Nest” in their schools.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on,” said Bellard. “Lamar University has always provided access to higher education and now we’re providing access to education to children at the grade school level. We like to say we’re creating Cardinals for tomorrow.”

More innovative learning labs will open in 2021. Bellard said the plan is to open two a year.