Manor school receives statewide recognition for design, planning

January 28, 2019

A Manor ISD school is being recognized Monday by the Texas Association of School Administrators for its physical design and the way the building itself contributes to learning.

Manor New Tech Middle School will receive the Caudill Award at the start of TASA’s Midwinter Conference in Austin. Thousands of administrators from across the state will be in town for the conference where the school will be showcased as an example of a well-designed school.

MNTMS operates as an open-concept school, with traditional classrooms only for subjects like science. Math, history, and English classes are held in open spaces without standard desks.

“So you have to be able to collaborate and work with somebody and problem solve, not just regurgitate information that you’ve learned,” Principal Chris Smith said.

The environment mirrors that of the high-tech world the students will enter after their schooling, Smith said, adding that students are responding well to the space.

“I think it’s kind of better than my other schools because there’s more space, more hands-on learning,” said 7th grade student Zoe Williams.

With her thumbs taped down, Williams was learning about adaptation in her pre-AP science class Friday. Students had to complete everyday tasks, like tying their shoes and writing their names, without the use of their thumbs.

This is Williams’ first year at the school, and she said the last school she went to, with more traditional classrooms, felt more closed-in. “It would be harder to focus,” she said.

The district already gets requests from outside administrators to tour the school, Manor ISD Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery said, and parents are responding, too.

“This year, we busted at the seams with interest to this particular campus,” Avery said.

Students have to apply to the school, and there was a waiting list of a couple hundred families going into 2018-19, the second school year for the campus.

The Caudill Award is validation that the district’s approach is driving change, Avery said. It’s an approach MISD is doubling down on, putting the finishing touches on Manor New Tech High School next door. It’s a remodel, not a new school, but it’s built around the same model, and the district plans to open it officially in the coming weeks.

The Caudill Award is the 16th won by the design firm Stantec, the company said. MNTMS is one of two schools to win the this year; Milby High School in Houston will also be honored at the TASA conference.