The school year has begun at the new Longfellow Elementary

Willoughby Eastlake Art September
Students at the new Longfellow Elementary School are enjoying the open spaces and forward-thinking design.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

On August 15, Longfellow Elementary School students took their first steps through the doors of their new state-of-the-art building, which has been four years in the making.

The planning process to create a blueprint for the building’s forward-thinking design was highly collaborative, including educational visioning sessions made up of staff, students and community members.

“Teacher input was definitely taken into consideration since this giant plan began,” says fourth-grade teacher Amanda Neumann. “Teachers were able to attend planning meetings, join committees to visit other new school buildings across Ohio and we even had the chance to test out trial furniture to see what we preferred.”

The resulting 80,000-square-foot space is super flexible, student-centered and conducive to small-group learning. Technology is an integral part of the design, with interactive boards in each room, and touchscreen televisions in the upper grades.

“The first day of school is something I won’t ever forget—a full day of excitement, joy, and fun,” she says. “As the students continue to find their way in this incredible new space, they seem eager to explore new avenues of learning and building 21st century skills in a building that now is so accommodating.”

She says that flexible seating in the new facility is already having a positive impact on her teaching. For instance, now she can quickly arrange seating in different groupings throughout the school day.

“The flexible seating also has allowed students a more relaxed approach to their learning, which allows them ample comfort coupled with some movement as well (rocking, balancing, or even partially standing), which results in a stronger focus on their academic tasks,” she continues. “Students have opportunities throughout each school day to move around the classroom, grade level collaborative space, and even enjoy second-story views while working in small groups in a common area shared between fourth and fifth grade.”

“Being able to open and teach for the first time in this amazing building is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I know I speak for myself and many of my colleagues when I say we are grateful to be a part of the Longfellow community at this exciting time,” she says.

Longfellow Elementary School is located at 35200 Stevens Boulevard in Eastlake. For details, visit