CTA PROJECT IN THE NEWS: New Catholic school takes non-traditional approach

By: Travis Estvold
5 September 2017

Photos courtesy of IdahoEdNews.org.

From IdahoEdNews.org:

What if you were given the chance to create and design a brand-new school? Where would you begin? Andi Kane, the principal at St. Ignatius Catholic School, started that journey a year ago. She turned her dream school into a reality. “It was too appealing to turn down,” Kane said. “This fits my personality because I like to create, problem solve, and think outside the box.”

For the past year, Kane conducted research with a group of 12 leaders from the Holy Apostles Catholic Church. The group traveled to schools from San Francisco to Seattle to study and talk with education experts on these teaching techniques:

  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Station-rotation, blended learning
  • Individualized learning plans
  • Flexible learning spaces

St. Ignatius serves students in pre-K through eighth grade and is the Boise-area’s first new Catholic school in 50 years. The school is 55,000 square feet and located next to the Holy Apostles Catholic Church near the intersection of Meridian Road and Chinden Boulevard in Meridian. St. Ignatius is a project of the Holy Apostles Catholic Church, which is the largest Catholic parish in Idaho.

Student enrollment is at 410 kids with 25 students per classroom. There are two classes at each grade level. The maximum capacity is 490 students. The school staffs 43 people, including 23 educators. The school features:

  • 20 classrooms, each 900 square feet
  • Flex learning and collaboration space
  • Digital presentation room
  • Library
  • Gym
  • Outdoor field that includes a track
  • Music room
  • Science lab
  • Two maker space labs
  • Two playgrounds
  • Community garden
  • Outdoor learning spaces
  • Math room

Each classroom has a garage door that opens up into the hallway. The hallways are considered flexible-learning space, which is an open seating area where students can meet and work on projects together.

You won’t find traditional desks and chairs lined up in rows in the classrooms. Each room has tables and chairs that can move around and be reconfigured for different setups. The purpose is for students to have a flexible learning environment. St. Ignatius’ academic model is an individualized learning plan based on faith, service, and social justice.

“It’s good practice in education to have high individualization,” Kane said.

Teachers will focus on inquiry-based learning in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) instruction. Teachers also are piloting multi-age classrooms where two grade levels combine for instruction.



“The CTA design team is super excited to see the doors open, and students filling the new St. Ignatius Catholic School. As we collaborated with the Holy Apostles Church leadership, we knew their passion and vision for effective learning environments would lead to a very non-traditional, innovative design solution. Through in-depth research of the best educational facilities around the nation, we worked closely with them to assure their desired teaching techniques and pedagogy were supported with flexible, collaborative learning spaces.

The result is one of the most enlightened schools in the State of Idaho — and well beyond. We were honored to work with forward-thinking partners like Principal Kane and her team. And we’ll be thrilled to bear witness to the success stories to come from St. Ignatius long into the future.”

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