Epic Elementary School
|Epic Elementary School|
|Birmingham City Schools|
|Location||1000 10th Avenue South, (map)|
|Colors||purple & gold|
Epic Elementary School (sometimes known as EPIC School or Epic Alternative Elementary School) is an elementary school in the Birmingham Public School System that is located at 1000 10th Avenue South, adjacent to Bessie Estelle Park in the Glen Iris neighborhood. The name was originally an acronym for "Educational Planning for Instructional Complex", which was later recast as "Educational Program sfor the Individual Child".
The program was founded in 1972 as a partnership between the city school system and the UAB School of Education under the direction of Roland Terrell. The intent of the program was to determine the extent to which a diverse, barrier-free classroom could be a benefit to instruction, and, conversely, the extent to which individualized instruction is important to attain educational goals. The curriculum for "typical and atypical students" was developed by groups of teachers, parents and students working together.
The pilot program, funded by a three-year federal grant, was originally to be implemented at Lane Elementary School at the start of the 1973-1974 academic year, and to approximate a 50/50 balance of white and black students. After the decision was made to move it to Glen Iris Elementary School, the predominantly white enrollment there changed the racial makeup of the program.
EPIC School also serves as a training center for teachers, and continues to foster the creation of individualized learning plans for students, including those considered "gifted" and those with disabilities.
The program began working with architect Pedro Costa in 1976. He developed an open plan for a free-flowing school which accommodated small-scale "theaterettes", "satellite libraries", and outdoor classrooms. The new building also featured color-coded walls for each grade level and abundant natural lighting. Students moved into the new building in 1980.
All students were taught sign language and the music classroom included special construction to transmit vibrations through the floor for the benefit of the hearing impaired. The school also housed a small animal menagerie and a well-stocked library.
The school was expanded to 78,000 square feet to accommodate up to 650 students. A gymnasium was built at the school for $750,000 in 2001. An interior renovation was overseen by T.R.I. Architecture & Interior Design with refreshed finishes and lighting which preserved and reinforced the original color scheme.
- Reeves, Garland (January 25, 1973) "Lane School picked for pilot project" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Reeves, Garland (May 16, 1974) "City board to expand Glen Iris ed program stressing individual" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Gargiulo, Richard M. & John Batson (1985) "EPIC School: An adventure in the least restrictive alternative." Education Vol. 105, No. 4, pp. 394-5
- Guy, Ann Renee (August 1, 1995) The Evolution of an Inclusion Model School in Birmingham, Alabama: A Case Study of EPIC Elementary School, 1973-1993. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Alabama College of Education
- Cummings, Meredith (August 2012) "EPIC Success Story: How one radical idea in education became a long-term success story." Birmingham magazine