TACOMA, Wash. – Stewart Middle School reopened Monday morning as part of the $66 million modernization project at about dozen Tacoma public schools.

McCarver Elementary was the most recent school to get a face lift, and Arlington Elementary is up next among others.

"It's crazy, new, amazing, big, exciting; it's just nice to be here," said Teri Harris, a broadcast news teacher at Stewart, who loves her new space.

"It’s huge for one, and everyone can see us,” Harris said. “Our project labs go up to the ceiling.”

In remodeled schools, there's an effort for transparency in education.

"I think historically what we've done is given the keys to the teacher and sent them down to the room, and the door closes, and we're hoping magic happens," said Stewart Middle School Principal Zeek Edmonds.

Edmonds says there will be collaborative learning outside of the classroom and spaces will have multiple uses, like the cafeteria that turns into an auditorium.

"We can still have lunch and break bread together and also gather for an assembly to appreciate the arts or other events," he said.

Tacoma teacher Ryan Booth says the old schools were falling apart.

“We had tiles missing from the ceiling in the gym,” Booth said. “The bathrooms smelled like 200-year-old bathrooms," he said.

Stewart Middle School was also one of the worst performing schools in the state, but will now have a facility to match their recent success leaping into the 35th percentile.

"I think this proves to students that we can do anything, and we're kind of being rewarded for our hard work," said Harris.

"You walk around this building and the kids are looking around like, yeah this is my place now, and it's awesome," said Booth.