Advanced Academy Student Testimonials

Christie Boron Christie Boron, ALEP, RA, NCARB, LEED AP
Principal
emersion DESIGN LLC
What became eye-opening for me was understanding educational theories and diverse pedagogical practices and using those as a lens to evaluate design strategies that would be most impactful for current and next generation students.

What was most impactful wasn’t in understanding the design process or project management tools like the OPR, Ed Spec, or Project Management Plans. As an architect, those were already loaded in my toolbelt. Although this learning experience certainly sharpened the tools I already had. What became eye-opening for me was understanding educational theories and diverse pedagogical practices and using those as a lens to evaluate design strategies that would be most impactful for current and next generation students.

The ALEP program helped me understand who I am as a leader and how my clients see me as a leader. Knowing when to elevate and when to temper certain traits is a gift. Collaborating with my teammates and professors from across the nation, I was able to discover new ways to engage and elicit feedback from staff, students and community members. Taking all the tools I already had and layering in new ones to complete the package that will enable me to walk side-by-side with my clients and their communities through a discovery process that will set the stage for realizing learning environments that are safe and sustainable, innovative and adaptable, culturally responsive and healthy for decades to come.

This program rekindled my inquisitive self to always be searching for ways to improve and enhance the spaces we design. One of my clients prides themselves on being the Saboteur. They have made a pledge to break down the system. Their students leave their school understanding that rather than chasing their parents’ and grandparents’ definition of success, they ultimately must strive to find significance. So how do we design a school that helps our youth find their significance, their passion, their purpose? I can tell you it is not the centuries old school model that is only fixated on how to be "successful" in an industrial age. I believe there are different school models out there that are designed to help our youth discover their significance. There is not one magical recipe. And each of those models will drive a different school facility solution.The ALEP program has awakened the Saboteur inside me and I am not about to tame that beast.

Jill Ackers Jill Ackers | ALEP | MA L&P
Principal Learning Designer
Fielding International
This program forever changed my work because of the relationships, friendships, and professional development I received in each individual course. It has enabled me to see how school buildings can embody contemporary educational curriculum and function as a social, cultural, and regenerative resource for the broader community.

As an educator, the ALEP was a challenging and enlightening experience that broadened my appreciation for the built environment and its ability to elevate the learning experience through human connection. My skillsets are pedagogy, student-centered learning, project-based learning, educational visioning, and program implementation, certainly not architecture. The program is steeped in building design and construction project management, so I was in the position of a student who sought to transform my abilities (I had to look up a lot of new terms). The experience focused on the learning environment as a journey of inspiration to physical installation as we designed new projects through a capstone project that culminated in each course.

The ALEP program’s course crosswalk is so much more than just warm, safe, and dry. It is designed to deepen the understanding of warm, safe, and dry by connecting the vision of the teaching and learning to the physical spaces. Alongside industry experts, we explored common misalignments with "how school runs" versus "how kids learn" and how they impact school boards and their ability to make high-quality facility planning decisions. Each course is built upon one another, interleaving the architectural concepts with the educational visioning process. My program design and curriculum development background helped me connect the learning experience to every space. It strengthened my skillsets to help school leaders, educators envision the world beyond the double-loaded corridor and cells and bells model. I am now able to work more effectively with groups and individuals so they too can see that building design is now far more than shuffling kids efficiently from one place to another. It is about welcoming and safe entries, campus social hearts, and reflective solitude spaces that work cohesively to ensure every space fosters curiosity, productive struggle, and growth with the agility to usher change in function and practice for many years to come.

This program forever changed my work because of the relationships, friendships, and professional development I received in each individual course. It has enabled me to see how school buildings can embody contemporary educational curriculum and function as a social, cultural, and regenerative resource for the broader community. I now clearly see my role as an educational planner and am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the instructors because collectively, we are making a difference for kids and our future.

Kristina Quintanilla Kristina Quintanilla, Assoc. AIA
Director of Studio Strategies
Community Little
I entered the program as neither an educator or an architect but rather someone who has spent the better part of her professional and personal life at the intersection of both. Professionally, I have spent nearly two decades specializing in the marketing and business development of educational design. Personally, I was raised by an architect and an educator. With that context in mind, I entered the program not entirely sure what to expect, but the benefits and value I have received from going through the Advanced Academy and now as an ALEP, are nothing but extraordinary.

The program helped me in seeing how relevant my experience is to what we do as educational planners. Specifically in the exploration and understanding of educational theory and visioning. The exploration of these in the first two modules helped me to see how I am able to draw from my Marketing background to elevate project storytelling to be more relatable when interacting with our clients as well as be a contributing project team member working with clients to understand educational visions and instructional methods and then work with our design team to assist in the translation of those visions into a built environment that supports the learner and the educator in educational outcomes as well as personal health and wellness.

The comprehensive knowledge gained from the curriculum and group work done throughout the program has allowed me to leverage my experience as a marketer/business developer into an active project team member having have an impact on the environments we are educating our children in.

I am grateful for the experience of having achieved ALEP. As a result I have been able to provide more value to our team and clients.
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