Teacher / Mentor Resources


Dedicated architecture students, architects, landscape architects, engineers, construction managers, facility planners, manufacturers and suppliers and all professions who contribute their time in mentoring middle school students through the competition, so that learning about facility planning, design and the built environment can take place.

The SchoolsNEXT Design Competition gives students, teachers and mentors a unique opportunity to work together as a planning team, providing students with hands-on experience in solving real life problem as a member of a design and planning team. Mentorship is key to the success of the program.

Mentorship refers to a developmental relationship between a student and a professional adult, which serves to further the student's career skills and knowledge. It is a tool that will help students to grow. Mentorship extends learning beyond the curriculum, develops self-esteem with career-related responsibility, opens access to community role models and demonstrates that career development is continuous. Mentorship challenges and enhances students' strengths, talents and interests, thereby providing critical connections between schools and careers.

Students gain access to highly skilled and motivated leaders, who are remarkably resourceful and demonstrate what will be expected of them as they become contributing adult members of society. The mentors work in the various fields of knowledge that contribute to creating outstanding learning environments and healthy, vital communities: facility planners, architects, engineers, realtors, economic developers, city planners, green building advocates, construction managers, federal agency representatives.

The mentor's job is to promote intentional learning by acting as a technical advisor. They can share their "how to do it so it turns out right" stories, as well as "here's how I fixed what went wrong." Successful mentoring means sharing responsibility for learning. Most importantly, the successful mentor will encourage the students to have fun with their project.

Best of all, mentoring can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences you will ever have. Volunteering as a mentor requires a significant commitment of your time and energy, but it is a fun and enjoyable experience. To create and facilitate the structures and opportunities for those kinds of powerful connections is a significant part of working thoughtfully with educational and social systems in which students are genuinely affirmed and encouraged to build self-confidence.

Would you like to be a mentor?


Teachers are encouraged to use the award-winning SchoolsNEXT Design Competition curriculum and outlined lesson plans as a starting point for the creative ideas of the participants of the student design competition and to develop skills in math, language arts, communication, leadership, science technology, architecture and facility planning.

SchoolsNEXT Design Competition Curriculum

Schools are the building blocks of our nation's future. Our children spend the majority of their waking hours in a school. Where our children learn takes on a greater significance when we understand how well designed, healthy, safe, resilient and sustainable buildings affect student achievement and success, revitalizing the communities they serve. The Association for Learning Environments has demonstrated a strong commitment to strengthening public awareness and encouraging support to improve school facilities for all students. Where students learn has a great deal of influence on how they learn. Involve your students in your school building!

Some Tips for the Teacher

Plan Ahead
Since time is of the essence once the project gets underway, it is important to have the kids prepared for that first day. Some simple discussions could be helpful to help the kids understand how the building around them helps to shape their education. Questions such as: "What would this room be like with no windows?" and "What is your favorite room at home to study in?" inspired some great discussions.

Lend a Hand
My mentor partner and I had to put in a lot of outside work to get the project completed by the end of the last day, putting all of the kids' hard work together and ready for display. It's amazing how time flies when you have 28 children to oversee. Help out as much as you can, particularly with a large group, to ensure that the project reaches completion.
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LearningSCAPES 2024


October 15-19, 2024
Portland, OR