After using the gym of St. Asbury United Methodist Church for approximately 3 1/2 years, Trousdale School bought the building and land, when the church relocated. The additional space has brought changes staffers were excited to show off.
Director of facilities Allen Clark said they had wanted to complete the project by the May 15 parent meeting. Clark said the project was about 90 percent complete on that day. However, parents were able to take a look at the progress.
Trousdale parent Debbie Prince said the facility “sparkles” compared to when she saw it in May.
“I never thought it would look this nice,” Trousdale parent Pam Coffey said. “It’s cutting edge.”
“It is exciting to me,” Trousdale founder Tom Johnson said of the expansion. “The next step will be housing.”
Johnson said the former church location was so “well-suited” for the school that there were few major changes.
Two main elements of the renovation were converting the sanctuary and church kitchen. The sanctuary is now a chapel and performance space for students. The church’s kitchen has been converted into a life skills lab.
“That was the pinnacle of this renovation,” Allen Clark said of the lab.
The lab is set up like an apartment, complete with bedroom, eating area and kitchen. Here, students practice making a bed, doing laundry, cooking and ironing.
Trousdale Teacher Jenny Elkins said the life skill lab was an element she had wanted to have since she came to Trousdale.
“My passion to teach them as adults is to teach them independence,” Elkins said. “I just feel like it is such an important next step.”
Since many Trousdale students live with their parents, Elkins said the lab was good to help students begin thinking about living on their own. Trousdale hopes to one day have apartment housing on its campus. When Trousdale moves forward with this goal, the lab will serve as a model of those apartments.
Parents were also excited about the lab. Prince said it was her favorite part.
“It’s needed,” Prince said. “That has been our goal all along, to make them independent.”
Her husband, Steve, said he hopes the school continues to challenge these students “to be all they can be” and strive to achieve goals that seem impossible.
“We didn’t focus on what she couldn’t do but what she could do, and Trousdale’s like that,” Debbie Prince said.
During the renovation, the school created two storm shelter quality rooms, one is a computer lab and the other is a classroom.
Clark said this will help students feel safer in inclement weather and allow instruction to continue. The renovation has also provided space for a library and a exercise room.
Rooms off of the chapel provide offices for the music director and director of facilities