After last minute rush, Missoula’s newest school ready to open

Posted at 8:55 PM, Nov 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-11 22:55:39-05

MISSOULA – There won’t be any kids going to class at Cold Springs Elementary School Monday morning for the first time in 125 years.

That’s because, after a hectic week, students will report to the new Jeannette Rankin Elementary School, starting a new legacy of learning.

Wednesday was a cold day at Cold Springs, as the rain poured down. The hallways were packed as usual but everywhere the transition was in evidence, as staff and students prepared for the long-awaited move to the new Jeannette Rankin Elementary.

It’s a move which closes the books on Cold Springs, where generations of Missoula kids started their learning. First in the wood frame built in the 1890s that burned in 1929. Then in the iconic brick building with its “rabbit’s warren” of additions over the years.   

“Cold Springs is an old building. And they are just on top of each other. So I feel like just having this spacious building is going to be so amazing for all of my staff,” Jeannette Rankin Elementary School Principal Christina Stevens said.

And amazing for the students who got their first look inside Wednesday. It was time to finish the move, get “sized” for a new locker, and learn your way around campus.

Beyond construction and moving into the new school, this is also about moving a community. And for some, that’s a bigger change than for others.”

That includes Sharon Yould, who had taught her entire career in one of the old windowed classrooms in Cold Springs.

“This is my 45th year of teaching. And all except two of the years were in that classroom. So it’s really, really like home to me. I think I know it better than my own house,” Yould said. “So, 45-years of about 20-students per year. That’s a lot of kids!”

Yould’s old classroom was a cozy time capsule, with old chalkboards, globes and that picture of George Washington we all remember. And her famous rocking chair.

“The first graders love the rocking chair. We crawl under the desk to go into our ‘cozy cave’ to read. We have pillows around the room,” Yould said. “They’ve got to be comfortable if they’re going to be learning. You can’t learn if you’re under stress.”

And the past few weeks have been stressful and exciting, trying to execute lessons months ahead of schedule with books and materials on the move.

“I have always taught first graders. And, I cry when I say this, but to me, it’s still so amazing when they get that look in their eye, ‘I can read this!’ And it’s like  they’re saying ‘I can read this!’ And it’s so exciting to see that moment for them. And then they just take off from there,” Yould told MTN News.

“I have so many incredible memories of Cold Springs. But my biggest memories are of the kids and the teachers. I get to teach with my best friends. Not too many people can go to work every day and work with their best friends,” Yould said.

Including two teachers that are her former students. But for Sharon and the others, all the “chaos” is worth it.

“Well, I’m really excited about the move. The facility is incredible. The views are amazing. It’s going to be nice to have a sink in my classroom,” Yoild said. “For the first time in 45 years, I can actually wash my hands without running down the hall.”

“And I think probably this is my last year. There are just big changes in the curriculum that are a lot of work and I’m not as young as I used to be,” Yould added.

And that’s where the thanks for great parents comes in — the ones who’ve been helping all the teachers with the mid-quarter move, “on their own time. Totally volunteer. And the parents are just great,” Yould said.

“We just want it to be beautiful for the community. Because I know they’ve all voted ‘yes’ so that we could have this amazing school. So we are going to welcome them in. It’ll be soon,” Stevens said.

A welcome that really depends on the people, and not the buildings.

Classes start at the new school at 8:30 am, and drivers in the Lower Linda Vista and Maloney Ranch neighborhoods should be on the lookout for extra traffic — and the crossing guards who will be out starting at 7:50 am.