Shining Stars Move-In

World of Wonder! Teachers Move Into New Shining Stars Campus
Posted on 08/19/2020

Teacher unpacking items in a classroomThe wonders at the new Shining Stars Preschool are slowly revealing themselves, as work on the campus nears completion and excited teachers take possession of their new school.  As they move into their classrooms, almost all say excitedly, “I can hardly wait for the kids to see this!”

Of course, that will have to wait until the health emergency eases enough for students to return to school in person.  Meanwhile, Shining Stars teachers, therapists, and educational aides are juggling online teaching responsibilities with unpacking boxes and boxes of what may look to adults like toys, but in the hands of a skilled teacher can open a world of knowledge and excitement to young minds. 

Moving Day photo gallery: Visit our new home as teachers move in!

Teacher in classroom with little tables and chairsA great deal of thought went into making the classrooms at Shining Stars an exciting, comfortable place for young children, many of whom have developmental and/or physical disabilities.  Windows, sinks, chairs, tables, whiteboards, and bathroom fixtures are at four-year-old height, and play kitchens help students learn about nutrition, hygiene, and cooperating with others. 

Fish stoolsThe school is divided into four “pods” – mountain, river, forest, and desert – and comfortable, low poufy stools reflect the themes: cushy rocks in the Mountain pod, or cacti in the Desert pod, or fish in the River pod.   Classrooms contain reading areas and quiet corners where students in need of a break can chill.  Even the lighting temperature can be adjusted from “cool”-like fluorescents to warmer, more calming tones.  Classrooms have ample storage for the many books, games, and toys used in teaching.  

Playground photo gallery: a great place to learn!

Shining Stars playgroundOutside, more wonders await, with playgrounds that double as learning areas.  A small “town” contains a funky fire station, and a trike track with street signs, a “police station” a “fuel station” and even a parking lot.  An area that looks like colorful half-spheres is actually a map of the solar system.  Nearby, by turning a wheel, students can pump water into an artificial river and watch how it flows, and can unearth dinosaur “fossils” in a desert boneyard.  Teachers can hold classes outdoors in the playground or in a quiet, outdoor “grassy” area, while cushioned nooks provide a place for overstimulated kids to retreat and decompress. 

School lobby

The school’s STEAM lab (geared towards science, math, arts and technology) includes a small library, has water play tables that can be used either in the lab or wheeled outside to the playground, and a “star wall” for teaching about the universe.  Furnishings and fixtures are made of easy-to-clean materials, always important with little ones and doubly so in the COVID era.   The campus includes physical therapy facilities for developing gross and fine motor skills, and diagnostic spaces for identifying students’ special needs.  Onsite specialists work with students with developmental and learning disabilities.  Strict access control and other security features help to keep the environment safe as well as stimulating for young minds. 

Outside of building with sign and flagThe new Shining Stars Preschool at 2100 Lionel St. NE (near Loma Colorado and Idalia Rd.) replaces an aged, dilapidated facility built originally as a temporary elementary campus.  The school’s 30 classrooms and other facilities can accommodate approximately 600 students.  Architects Dekker Perich Sabatini designed the 54,000 sq. ft. campus, which was built under the supervision of general contractor Brycon Construction -- a Rio Rancho firm -- at a cost of approximately $17 million.  RRPS thanks Rio Rancho voters for funding construction through the 2016 bond issue.