MacConnell Award; Take Two Reimagining Ideas at an Existing Campus

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM


In 2016 Agua Fria Union High School District administrators, teachers, students, business partners and community set out to reimagined what teaching and learning should look like in the future. The manifestation of these ideas was Canyon View High School and became the 2019 MacConnell Award winner. As increasingly diverse groups including school administrators, teachers, board members, curriculum specialists and an international delegation visited Canyon View HS similar questions continued to arise:
• Is my district and community ready for this?
• How can you adapt this to existing schools?
• How can I do this on a small budget?
• How do you change adapt to and culture on an existing campus?

The resultant answers just opened at Agua Fria Union HSD’s namesake and oldest high school Agua Fria High School. The original campus built in 1957 experienced organic expansion over 40 years resulting in a collection of disjointed and outmoded learning environments that diluted the original compact and personal campus culture and feel. Phase 1 of a master planned multiphase remodel opened in January. On display are the same principals from the 2019 MacConnell winner of reimagined teaching and learning, planning and programming around learning groups and modalities, activating and engineering of outdoor space, site planning for function and relationship building, all adapted to the nuances and unique culture of Agua Fria High School and its community. Hear how a districts educational vision can be applied to small projects, even interior remodeling of existing buildings. Understand how the master plan was designed to plant the nucleus of change on an existing and occupied campus and how the designers and District plan to implement change management where a culture is already well established. 

#1: Understand how a Districts can successful adapt guiding principles in learning to an existing occupied campus.
#2: Understand how to blend cutting edge principles in teaching with an existing and unique campus culture.
#3: Understand how change management in the core staff is necessary is being implemented to extract the full potential the districts guiding principles.
#4: Understand how the District strategically phased the implementation of cutting edge learning environments on a budget.

Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educationalleadership, 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.

Educational Facility Pre-Design Planning: Manages a master planning process that combines educational planning, facilities assessment and utilization, demographic research, capital planning and educational specifications with a community-based vision to establish a plan for learning environments. This includes the ability to translate existing or aspirational instructional models to specific programming and spatial relationships.    

Dennis Runyan, Ed Dr, Superintendent, Agua Fria Union High School District
Dr. Runyan has served 33 years in education as a high school teacher, Principal, and School Superintendent. He is currently serving in his eleventh year as Superintendent of the 8,500 student Agua Fria Union High School District near Phoenix. Dr. Runyan has also been engaged the past decade teaching graduate level educational leadership classes as an adjunct professor with Northern Arizona University. His career in public education has previously involved tenures in Florida, and Delaware.

Paul Bakalis, Architect, ALEP (pending)
Paul has had a 30+ year career in architecture creating engaging learning environments in K12, higher education, healthcare, and advanced research facilities. He has served as the governor appointed Executive Director of the Arizona School Facilities Board and an ALEP. Paul believes as designers and constructors, we advance ideas that enhance interactions, reflect new technologies, and enrich human activities rather than simply containing them, recognizing that our environment shapes our activities.

David Schmidt, Architect, DLR Group
David is an architect in the Phoenix education design studio of DLR Group. He has specialized in the design of learning environments for over 20 years and believes in a responsibility to enable and shape the next generation through creating engaging educational environments. Most recently David was project lead on Canyon View High School, the 2019 MacConnell Award winner.

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



+1 480.391.0840
11445 E. Via Linda, Ste 2-440
Scottsdale, Arizona 85259 USA