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A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

National Symposium on School Design:
Schools as Centers of Community
October 4-5, 1998
A joint project of the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Millennium Council.

Unique models of communities working together to design and modernize schools.

Vancouver, Washington

Todd Horenstein, Assistant Superintendent, Vancouver Public Schools
Terry Nelson, Principal, Discovery Middle School
Ric Packard, Teacher, Discovery Middle School
Vaughn Lein, AIA, Architect, LSW Architects
John Wyckoff, AIA, Architect, LSW Architects

Completed in July 1995, the Discovery Middle School in Vancouver, Washington, was developed through the extensive involvement of parents, students, educators, architects, business partners and other community members. Integrating unique educational spaces, the school features "Academic Villages." The school has ten other unique spaces that service a range of needs for the school and community, in addition to the "Academic Villages." Each village consists of 10 high-tech classrooms and is organized as schools-within-the-school containing teams of students and teachers. Another design feature is the large open box, called the "Tool Box." This area is divided into five zones of integrated instruction, including research with reference materials, wet/dry lab, art design, technology education and fabrication. Outside access is available for environmental studies.

The Community Center reaffirms Discovery Middle School's place within the Vancouver community. A special room near the school's main entrance is dedicated for use by community organizations, school partners and social services support. The school's design reflects a creative approach to teaching. Recipient of several awards including, the national award of the 1996 "Learning by Design" Grand Award, given by the National School Boards Association.

Contact: 800 East 40th Street, Vancouver, Washington 98668; 360-696-7191 (phone); 360-696-5239 (fax)

Winnetka, Illinois

Dr. Elizabeth Hebert, Principal

The 430-student, K-5 school in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois, Crow Island School opened in 1940 and was named a National Historical Landmark in 1990. The school was among the first schools in American to reflect concepts of progressive education in its construction. The benches in the auditorium are graded in size - from the smallest in front to the largest in the rear - so that every little one's feet touch the floor. Door handles, light switches, and plumbing are all on a child's level. So students feel safe on the playgrounds, the school has three separate age-level playgrounds. The school's design can also adjust to structural needs. For example, classrooms are L-shaped and include adjacent workrooms to facilitate large block designs, science centers and ongoing projects or to serve as technology center. Focused on the enduring qualities of childhood, Crow Island School serves as an example how we can create buildings that respond to a larger vision of school and its place in the community.

Contact: 1112 Willow Road, Winnetka, IL 60093; 847-446-0353 (phone); 847-446-9021 (fax)

Lincoln, California

Dr. Roger Yohe, Superintendent, Western Placer Unified School District
Jeremy Ross Dyer, Student and Graduate of Lincoln High School
Joanne Neft, Chairperson, Western Placer Educational Foundation
Jordan Knighton, AIA, architect, Neptune, Thomas, and Davis Architects
Jim Bush, California State Department of Education

Western Placer Unified School District (WPUSD) began a process known as Project Build - a systemic approach that will support and enhance the instructional strategies of the 21st century. During two school terms, 1995-96 and 1996-97, over 100 community members, faculty and staff, administrators, parents and students formed a committee to explore and investigate four major frameworks that impact on facilities development: physical resources, learning, governance, and socioeconomic opportunities. In addition, the school district has incorporated the planning process into the curriculum teaching students to design, draw, and make models in preparation for better communication with architects who will be designing Lincoln's new schools.

Project Build has produced the Lincoln High School-Sierra Community College Learning Center to address the growing need for a seamless educational program to educate and train high school and community college students for careers in the region's burgeoning high-tech industry.

Contact: Western Placer Unified School District; 1400 First Street, Lincoln, CA 95648; 916-645-6350(phone); 916-645-6356 (fax)

Dearborn, Michigan

Dr. Steve Hamp, President, Henry Ford Museum
Steven Bingler, AIA, Concordia Architects, New Orleans, LA

The academy is located on the premises of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Chartered by Wayne County RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency), the academy opened with 100 ninth-grade students in the fall of 1997 and will graduate its first class in 2001, when it will have its full complement of 400 students in grades 9 to 12. Students use museum artifacts and exhibitions for analysis, inspiration, and association. For example, students in math class used the museum structure itself as a resource, making estimates and calculations of geometrically symmetrical window, wall, and ceiling areas as well as irregular exhibit spaces. The collaborative effort of a global corporation, a renowned not-for-profit cultural organization and the public schools allows for ideal integration of school and museum environments. The nature of this integration produced lesson plans developed by the teaching staff that prepares students for the global economy through several manufacturing projects that help students see real-world applications for their discipline-based studies.

Contact: 20900 Oakwood Boulevard., Dearborn, Michigan 48124; 313-982-6110 (phone); 313-982-6111 (fax)

Big Lake, Minnesota

Rande Gustafson, Community Education Director, Big Lake School District
Jane Stevenson, Co-location Coordinator, Big Lake School District

The Big Lake Public School District is located approximately 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The district has one elementary school, one middle school and one high school all on a centrally located campus. Even though over 2,000 K-12 students attend Big Lake schools, the schools serve the educational needs of the entire community. For example, at the heart of the high school is state of the art theater; an interactive, comprehensive resource center; and a multi-purpose athletic facility. All three of these areas embrace the idea that learning should nurture the artistic, physical and academic intelligence of everyone in the community.

Through the use of computer and phone networks, Big Lake Schools have enhanced the communication link between our staff and the community. They have the capacity to directly access data and personnel at any of the three buildings. The technology infrastructure provides learners with the opportunities to interact with people from different cultures, conduct research using university resources and follow current events as they happen. The schools are truly the center of the community and are used regularly by almost all local residents.

Contact: 501 Minnesota Avenue, Big Lake, Minnesota 55309; 612-262-2523 (phone); 612-262-2539 (fax)


Dr. Diane Scheerhorn, Superintendent, Gaylord Community Schools
Chris Collins, President, Board of Education
Mason Buckingham, Former Superintendent, Gaylord Community Schools
Susie Bensinger, Community leader, former president of the board of education

Built with the community in mind, Gaylord High School in Gaylord, Michigan, serves as a secondary education institution as well as a community center. The school houses senior activities, day-care, performing arts programs, community health-care clinics and even weddings allowing students to interact with other members of the community. School officials believe the bond referendum to build the high school would have never passed without the inclusion of community activities. Now the entire community has a vested interest in the school.

The auditorium is a perfect illustration of this point. Gaylord lacked an auditorium for concerts, recitals and other functions, therefore a special auditorium committee evolved to address the details involved with theater design. Classrooms were also designed to accommodate community use. Anticipating that some teachers might be reluctant to have community members invade their classrooms, school administrators worked with the design team to create departmental offices that would provide private space for faculty members. The high school also houses a full cadre of higher education programs. The rich range of activities at Gaylord High School has resulted in more volunteerism, more fund-raising and more general interest in the school.

Contact: 90 Livingston Blvd, Gaylord, MI 49735; 517-732-6402 (phone); 517-732-6029 (fax)

Chicago, Illinois

Bill Latoza, Architect, BauerLatoza

In January 1996, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) embarked on a five-year capital improvement program - what became the largest public-school renovation program in the country - to address overcrowding and facilities deterioration in 557 schools. To date all 557 schools have been assessed and their needs prioritized: 256 schools are undergoing extensive renovations, 112 schools are targeted for major renovation in FY 1999, and additional 137 schools are scheduled in FY 2000. In the second year of the improvement plan, the city added specialty programs, such as the creation of career academies to train students for work after leaving school. The plan also calls for energy-efficient programs to be evaluated on a systems wide basis to lower costs and increase energy efficiency.

John B. Drake School is one example of the renovation. The school was constructed in 1898 and was decommissioned as a Chicago Public School in 1978. The school was used by the Chicago Housing Authority from 1980 to 1988, and remained vacant until the rehabilitation project began in April 1998. The school reopened this past September as a transition center, and boasts the most up-to-date computer/Internet technology and science labs for the students.

Contact: 2641 South Calumet Avenue, Chicago, IL; 773-534-9727(phone); 773-534-9733 (fax)

Rocky Mount, Virginia

Dr. Christopher Corallo, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
William Bowling, AIA, Architect, Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern, Roanoke, VA

Located in Rocky Mount, Virginia, the Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration exemplifies total community effort: community leaders, business and industry representatives, local colleges and universities, parents, and teachers worked collaboratively to develop the curriculum and the facility. The Center consists of eight modules representing the skills and career opportunities of the future including environmental/natural resources, health and human services, media design and engineering/architectural design.

Eighth and ninth graders are immersed in real problems, units of study and/or projects. Instructors act as facilitators by guiding their students toward practical solutions. Through their experiences at the Center, students will develop: a work ethic; demonstrate the ability to solve problems effectively in diverse collaborative groups; develop and apply problem solving skills using appropriate technology; and, develop strategies that will help them adapt to change. The center prepares students for the American workforce of the 21st century.

Contact: 25 Bernard Road, Rocky Mount, VA 24151; 540-483-5138 (phone); 540-483-5806 (fax)

Flagstaff, Arizona

Dr. Karen Butterfield, executive director, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy
Ms. Jan Stevens, founding parent and board member, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy

A public charter high school emphasizing the visual and performing arts, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy (FALA) is located on the research grounds of the Museum of Northern Arizona. School lessons are centered within six 28-by-60-foot modular classrooms, but the museum shares its entire 400-acre campus with FALA's students and faculty. The school and museum remain autonomous while at the same time collaborating to strengthen the vision of both organizations.

Both understand they must be community-based. Therefore, MNA and FALA have worked to maintain strong relations with the local public school district, arts agencies, Northern Arizona University, professional artists, and community and civic leaders. FALA students also volunteer at the museum throughout the year. To graduate they must fulfill 15 hours of community service per semester. MNS also has an apprenticeship program that teaches the students about all aspects of the museum B as a business as a future work place, and as a service agent to the public through its arts, research and science programs. FALA's environment inherently offers an exciting curriculum.

Contact: 3100 North Fort Valley Road, #41, Flagstaff, AZ 86001; 520-779-7223; 520-779-7041 (fax)


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Last Updated -- April 3, 2000 (mhm)