Shooting for the Moon: An optimistic process for the exploration of new possibilities for public education and the role of schools in our communities

Association for Learning Environments (A4LE)

1 LU

That is the “moonshot” question that brought representatives of Re-imagine America’s Schools and Citizen Schools together in a series of six two-hour virtual discussions in September and October 2020. The discussions were eye-opening and inspiring for the panelists, and this interactive concrete two-hour session will share a summary of insights and ideas that emerged from these workshops. Participants will be engaged in a variety of facilitated discussions and activities based on the Citizen Schools and Reimagine America’s Schools work. The systems and structures of American Public education were designed for a different generation, different culture and different economy. There was a time that this institution served our nation well. But our nation has evolved in significant ways - and demands a re-examination of the role schools play in the education of our young people. If we were to examine what we hire public education to do for our students and the settings in which that promise is realized, schools would look wildly different than they do today. A bold new model for public education is needed. We envision an educational system unconstrained from the evolution of biased policies and antiquated instructional practices that hold firm in the face of disapproving results. What would an education system look like that is the foundation for equitable futures for all students and communities? In re-designing schools, we need to ask ourselves a series of hard questions about the role of public education and school buildings in our communities. It is our hope and intention that participants will leave this session with a renewed spirit of optimism for the near-term future of public education, with an understanding of how to effectively engage a wider audience in the important and sometimes difficult questions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about the important work that Reimagine America’s Schools and Citizens Schools are doing for positive transformational change in education and in school design.
  2. Learn a design thinking process of exploring difficult conversations about change which redirects fear into curiosity.
  3. Explore what aspects of context and culture must be included into the school setting in order to create inclusive and safe learning environments and explore ways inequality and bias manifest themselves in school design.
  4. Learn and identify all the various components which make up a typical educational system, and which elements are ripe for re-design.

John Pfluger, AIA, NCARB, LEED® AP, Principal, Cuningham
John is a Principal at Cuningham and has serves as a Design Principal in the firm’s education studio. Central to John’s design approach is his personal commitment and passion to achieve highly creative, sustainable design results that enhance our clients’ goals through a highly inclusive and co-creative process. He is often called upon to serve a Design Resource for Reimagine America’s Schools, a consortium of national leaders innovating in the design and education space.

Amy Yurko, AIA, Founder, BrainSpaces, Inc.
Amy is Founder and Director of BrainSpaces, Inc. She is both a licensed architect and educator who believes in applying brain-based strategies to the design of learning environments. An internationally recognized expert, Amy is consistently invited to collaborate, coach and share her knowledge with educators, architects and their communities. She has earned the A4LE distinction of “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her excellence in planning and designing powerful environments for learners throughout the world.

Leonardo Gonzalez, Director of Education, Principal, HKS Inc.
Director of Education at HKS, Leonardo has dedicated his career to the design of educational environments. Grounded in his belief that educational spaces are paramount in the successful future of our society, he aims to advance the building typology in education and create spaces that support progressive educational opportunities. Leonardo leads teams to work tirelessly in advancement of student health and wellbeing, uncovering strategies to impact equity in access to opportunities for all students.

Patricia Joseph, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, Architect, Cuningham
Patricia is a designer in Cuningham’s Grow studio, facilitating multiple school master plans and closely coordinating with project designers. She is a lecturer for the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado, Denver. Motivated by the potential that building materials have on societal constructs, Patricia serves as Co-Vice President of the local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, NOMA Colorado. Previously, she served on the AIA Colorado EDI committee.

Melissa Rodriguez, AIA, Sr. Project Architect, HKS
Melissa, originally from Puerto Rico, is a Sr. Project Architect with HKS. Her focus professionally has been in education projects, where she brings relevance to her work through her diverse background and inquisitive mindset. She enjoys shaping space into place—always seeking to foster a sense of community for its users. Melissa is past chair of AIA Baltimore’s Future Architect Resources, a student outreach program focused on design advocacy for youth, and its impact on society. 

Association for Learning Environments (A4LE)

LearningSCAPES 2021

October 14-17
Hyatt Regency | Denver, CO