The Power of Partnership in Specialized School Design

Room: E145-146

Furnished by: Artcobell

Audience: Facilities Personnel


Call to Action: Identify community partners that support educational and shared initiatives to expand possibilities for future projects. Engage students, parents and community members in exploring visionary learning approaches that are challenging to meet in current facilities. Utilize Universal Design principles to improve educational outcomes for all learners.

Abstract: How did a dialogue between architects and a school principal ignite an inceptive discussion on an A4LE forum fostering connections among planners and design professionals nationwide around imagining a better educational model for students with special needs? The Austin ISD Rosedale School is a unique model for educational and medical support for students who experience significant medical, behavioral and learning barriers in traditional schools. The campus provides comprehensive instruction for students alongside a specialized clinic serving children with complex care needs. Rosedale serves over 150 students, ages 3 to 21, who require a differentiated space for thriving and learning. The partnerships necessary to create this model involved a diverse group of professionals brought together with many connections through A4LE. Learn how partners from the realms of design, education and medicine came together to create a first of its kind campus. This project provides meaningful universal design solutions for facilities that seek to better serve all students.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn distinctions between spaces serving students with medical,social/behavioral, and post-secondary needs including specific emotional and physical accommodations to support educational learning goals.
  2. Learn health and wellness benefits to individuals with significant special needs and their families created through collaborative educational and medical services co-existing in a single facility including benefits to the entire larger special needs community.
  3. Explore engagement strategies for building partnerships that connect community resources with a shared mission.
  4. Learn human-centered universal design strategies specific for students with diverse learning needs improving both safety and wellness considerations for ALL individuals.
Chad Johnson, AIA, LEEP AP, REFP
Chad Johnson, AIA, LEEP AP, REFP
Principal, Director of PK-12, Page

Chad is the Director of PK-12 Academic for Page. He is a multi-faceted architect, designer, planner and project manager. He is passionate about creating thoughtful, student-focused design that engages with students and educators. He is a father of a son with significant special needs and speaks often to the benefits and impacts of thoughtful universal design within school and public environments for all individuals.

Elizabeth Dickey
Elizabeth Dickey
Past Principal, The Rosedale School

Elizabeth is an insightful educator who has focused on finding solutions for students for over 30 years. She is the retired principal of Austin ISD's Rosedale School. Prior to joining Austin ISD, she was a special education teacher, school improvement facilitator and assistant principal. Elizabeth served on the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and was the 2021 Austin ISD Principal of the Year.

Anjana AJ Sivakumar, AIA, LEED Green
Anjana “AJ” Sivakumar, AIA, LEED Green
Assoc. Associate, DLR Group

AJ is passionate about the design of learning environments and in designing spaces that inspire kids to be curious and learn. Her curiosity and drive to keep learning, along with her experience in planning, interiors, and architectural roles on K-12 projects brings a blended, interdisciplinary lens to her work. She believes that learning with users and stakeholders, utilizing the knowledge and lived experiences of everyone engaged in the design process, yields the best designs and outcomes for all users.

Charlsi Kratina, LEED AP, NCIDQ
Charlsi Kratina, LEED AP, NCIDQ
Principal, BCDM Architects

Charlsi is lead of BCDM’s interior design department with project management, space planning, interior design, and furniture selection responsibilities for multiple market sectors. She works closely with clients and project team to deliver creative solutions and ensure clients needs are met. Charlsi is experienced in creating specialized learning environments for students with unique needs including medical fragility and neurodiversity.

Core Competency

Educational Visioning
Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840