Supporting Unique Needs: A Collaboration Between Learning and Design

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM


As the expertise of two vastly different worlds collide in the co-creation process of new learning environments for students with unique needs, gaps in understanding can result in missed opportunities. The complexities of special education support systems and differing student needs can leave designers scrambling to catch up to nomenclature and program requirements. In addition, the timeline of the design process can put educators and administrators in a difficult position trying to forecast constantly evolving needs. By working to bridge the gap between these two different worlds, we can collectively create environments centered on a purposeful and empathetic approach to supporting unique learning. Join us to understand how the four types of special education needs can be supported far beyond the walls of focused classrooms, appropriately connecting students to their peers, building-wide. By exploring the critical components of specialized spaces for learning, we’ll focus on best practices of both educators and designers as they work to create uniquely supportive and future-focused experiences. We’ll share research on the daily learning efforts of students with varying needs and the personal perspectives of educators who specialize in this area of expertise to help shed light on the opportunities available during the creation of new or renovated SPED spaces. Together, we can begin a conversation on purposeful connections and provide useful takeaways for experts on both sides of education and design, all working toward the common goal of supporting each and every learner. We hope you’ll join us!

#1: Identify the four types of special education needs and how they can be supported through physical space.
#2: Explore the shifting variables in special education to better support students of all ability levels.
#3: Understand research on the perceived opportunities and challenges of educators in special education focus areas.
#4: Become familiar with the timeline of a design process and its impact on scalable decisions in the special education realm.

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

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. 

Michelle Chavey, AIA, ALEP, Educational Design Director | Partner, Hollis + Miller Architects
Michelle is the Educational Design Director and a Partner at Hollis + Miller Architects. She believes collaborative, future focused learning environments should be backed with research in the learning process, brain development and social context. Her focus on meaningful conversations with educators to strategize for innovative learning opportunities ensures translation into successfully designed educational projects. Michelle is an AIA member, an Accredited Learning Environments Planner and is pursuing an educational doctorate at Kansas State University.

Dr. Chris Daniels, Director of Special Services, Park Hill School District
Dr. Daniels serves as the Director of Special Services in the Park Hill School District in Kansas City, Missouri. Holding multiple posts throughout his 23-year career, he began teaching in the elementary classroom then transitioned to Assistant Principal and Principal. Dr. Daniels was named the Missouri State Principal of the Year in 2012. He now works with students, parents, teachers and school administrators, overseeing unprecedented growth in programs across the district composed of 12,000 students.

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



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Scottsdale, Arizona 85259 USA