Making Learning and Creativity Accessible for All
A special population requires specialized interior solutions. At High Point School, part of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a major renovation provided the opportunity to reimagine learning for the school’s K-12 special needs students. The Polyvision Flow™ modular whiteboard system was the perfect solution to give students of all learning and mobility levels an accessible place for writing, drawing, collaboration, and imagination.
High Point School serves special education students aged three through twenty-six with significant physical, intellectual or behavioral challenges. Ashley Kryscynski, Communications and Public Relations Specialist for Washtenaw Intermediate School District, explains, “Safe learning spaces are especially important for our diverse population, which includes students with severe and multiple disabilities. The whiteboard solution had to support a wide range of needs.”
Originally built in 1972 for a different population, the building was renovated in 2022 to better address the needs of students. To meet the client’s goals, TMP Architects knew finding a collaborative surface product that was both functional and high performing was crucial. They partnered with NBS to specify and install (38) 25 foot wide writing walls in their classrooms along with two custom imaged niches.
Flow is made of Ceramic Steel – a durable, non-porous surface that comes with a Forever Warranty. It can also be cut in the field to achieve a customized fit around windows or electrical. Monitors can be mounted over top, allowing for both digital and analog tools to be used on the same plain. The surface also supports custom graphics, which are baked into the material rather than overlaid as a film. The practically indestructible surface can be cleaned with plain water and is bacteria-resistant—an important consideration when working with medically fragile students, many of whom are in wheelchairs. The material is also resistant to scratches, dents, stains, and fire, and won’t fade when exposed to UV rays.
The functionality, flexibility, and low maintenance requirements of the boards make it easier to teach and communicate with students of all learning levels. The magnetic surface is particularly popular for mounting materials and signage to support visual learning. Installing the boards vertically offers a larger workable surface and accommodates a wider range of accessibility and mobility needs. “The layout of the system provides me with a lot of flexibility. I would be lost without it,” shares Cindy Wauer, Honey Creek teacher.
The two hallway niches, with their round windows and comfortable seating, are a favorite gathering spot. The Flow boards were cut to fit around the windows and feature a cheerful line graphic of flowers by Designtex that students can color or add to. TMP Interior Designer Sarah Watson says, “For the niche design, the whole project was about balance. The population using that building can be overstimulated, so it was important to choose a pattern that would be beautiful, but also calming and not overwhelming.”
The durable and versatile Flow whiteboard system will meet the needs of learners at High Point for many years to come. Fernando Sanjuan, NBS Project Director, says, “Polyvision’s attention to detail and graphic integration makes their boards unique, practical and beautiful. The end results couldn’t be better.”
Learn more about High Point School: washtenawisd.org