Celebrating the new Shari Flaming Education Commons

Tabor College Education Commons grand opening
Tabor College Education students join Chuck Flaming on Saturday, Oct. 15 for the grand opening of the Shari Flaming Education Commons.

Teacher education has served as an integral program for generations of Tabor College students. The program now has a signature space to call home, moving from the bottom floor of the H.W. Lohrenz Administration Building to the second floor of the library.

It was a major transformation to the space, including the relocation and rehoming of over 40,000 books and one of the largest remodels in college history.

The project includes the addition of four classrooms, a brand-new curriculum lab, and office space for the Tabor education department. Two identical spaces occupy the south and west walls, providing a home for both elementary and secondary education students.

Thanks to the deep influence of educators in his own life, Chuck Flaming was proud to support the vision of President Emeriti Jules Glanzer and the campus. Chuck’s late wife Shari, whose name now dons three spaces on the Tabor College campus, was one of those educators.

“Teachers have a huge influence on students,” Flaming said at the project’s grand opening at Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 15. “After a lot of praying and thinking, I called Jules and agreed to fund this project on one condition. I wanted it to be stressed to students that teaching in school is also a mission.”

The Tabor College Facilities Team completed nearly the entire renovation in-house, bringing costs down and enhancing collaboration between administration, faculty and staff. One of the highlights of the project is the trim and beams around the facility. Every piece of wood used comes from the former bleachers inside the gymnasium.

Education students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to support that mission by commemorating the project as the framing was finished. They penned verses, prayers and notes of encouragement for current and future generations of teachers.

Lisa Moore, assistant professor of education and department chair, said that she is proud that current students had a voice in what the space would look like.

“This is a great recruiting tool for Tabor College,” Moore said. “I’ve talked to students for weeks about the premiere technology, classroom setting and the furniture. It’s going to be awesome for our incoming students.”

The Newline interactive boards that are located in the elementary and secondary education spaces allow for immersive classes, bringing multimedia and education tools to the fingertips of faculty and students.

“It not only offers high tech display but offers opportunities for seamless collaboration, which is important for students,” said Dr. Sarah Tham, assistant professor of education. “You no longer need to plug in and find wires, or extension cords, and there is no longer any need for multiple cables. Students’ work, presentations and videos can be wireless, shared immediately to the interactive touch panel.”

Tabor College Education Commons grand opening
(L to R): Dr. David Stevens, Assistant Professor of Education; Lisa Moore, Assistant Professor of Education & Department Chair; Chuck Flaming; Dr. Sarah Tham, Assistant Professor of Education; Kristen Hays, Assistant Professor of Education; Dr. Frank Johnson, Executive VP of Academics and Compliance.

Moore added that these are the kinds of tools that educators need to succeed the second they step foot in a classroom. She also praised the diversity of the space and how the glass walls of the two main classrooms can give a glimpse of classes for prospective students on campus visits.  

“We want this to be a signature program for the college,” Moore said. “We want future teachers to see this space and want to be a part of it. Some visitors or new students may or may not want to be teachers, but we want students to see what’s possible with this space and these tools.”