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brighter choice charter middle schools

The Brighter Choice Charter Middle Schools is now the 8th school in Albany New York built by the Brighter Choice Foundation to provide better public school options for an under-privileged population. All of these schools focus on high academic standards supported by an extended school day, longer school year, school uniforms, and intensive teacher involvement. This project houses separate schools for Boys and Girls as well as offices for the Brighter Choice Foundation itself. The 54,000-sf three-story building allows integrated but separate functioning of the two schools while sharing common areas such as the gym, library and music room.

The building was sited facing solar south to allow all the classrooms maximum day-lighting. In addition, roof monitors and glass block floors bring light into the corridors. A welcoming entry plaza gives the students a safe sunny place to congregate before and after school. The siting and compact plan also allowed for the creation of secure, outdoor garden areas on both sides of the building. Each art and science room opens out onto private outdoor patios and gardens. In the front there is a small reading garden and a large sunny community area that features native plants, a pergola and a rain garden.

The programming of the school was accommodated by planning two floors per grade with numerous specialized instruction spaces including seminar rooms, discussion rooms, computer labs, lecture halls, combined science and art project rooms, and a screening room for each school. Each school has numerous “teaching nooks” which provide a variety of informal break out areas such as a gallery space, a brainstorming nook surrounded by blackboards, a crystal nook with glass wall and skylights, and a study nook with counters and stools. These spaces are used as part of an incentive program which rewards high performance. Each school has a separate entry, with administrative offices and nurses room on the first floor.