Keynote / Sessions

Instruction Before Construction   March 8-10, 2021
Instruction Before Construction
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
200 West 12th Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2021 | 4:45 – 6:30 PM
Opening Session / Keynote

Tom Vander Ark

Author & CEO, Getting Smart

Tom Vander Ark Tom Vander Ark is an advocate for innovations in learning. As CEO of Getting Smart, he advises school districts and networks, education foundations and funders and impact organizations on the path forward. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom is author of Getting Smart; Smart Cities That Work for Everyone; Smart Parents; and Better Together. He has published thousands of articles, co-authored and contributed to more than 50 books and white papers. He writes regularly on, LinkedIn, and contributes to Forbes.

Previously, Tom served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also served as a public school superintendent in Washington state and has extensive private sector experience. Tom co-founded the first education venture fund, Learn Capital. Tom is a board member for Education Board Partners, Director for 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, and eduInnovation and Advisor for One Stone, Teton Science Schools and Whittle School & Studios.

Tom has presented at a variety of national conferences, including SXSWEdu, iNACOL’s Blended & Online Learning Symposium, ASU/GSV, National Charter Schools Conference and AACN Annual Meeting. He has also presented at international conferences including The World Bank, The Digital Education Show Middle East and Bett Show.

Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He earned an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver, and continues his education online.

Designing the Future of Learning

In three design sprints, participants will articulate learning goals for the new innovation economy, explore the nature of real world learning, and design learning experiences and environments for the future. A4LE is thrilled to welcome Tom to Kansas City to help reinforce our conference focus of Instruction Before Construction.

TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021 | 1:30 – 2:30 PM
Reviving the Open Concept: How it Works in the Modern Learning Environment
Dennis Coudriet, AIA, BVH Architecture
Darin Hanigan, Assoc. AIA, BVH Architecture
Amanda Skalka, South Central Nebraska Unified School District #5

The open concept from the 60’s and 70’s were, for the most part, unsuccessful. Noise from adjacent activities/classes created challenges for teachers delivering their lessons. Traditional teaching methods in this new learning environment created frustration, confusion, and unwanted results. Can technology, pedagogy, and student resilience play a role in bringing back a concept designed to enhance collaboration, creativity, and a student-centered learning environment? One rural school in Nebraska has embarked on an open school design which is vastly different than the traditional school. The Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies is a career pathways curriculum within the South Central Unified School District 5. The pedagogy of this school district was the inspiration behind this open school design. Learn how this school’s pedagogy and design principals have raised the level of collaboration, sense of community, and elevated opportunities for students to explore their passions. Gain an understanding of how an organization and structure can be balanced with the density and creative commotion of an open cross collaborative physical environment.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Understand more about how the Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies is giving students an opportunity to explore their passions, work with community businesses, and engage with teachers in a new way.
  2. Participants will explore how safety and security are addressed in an open concept and how it has created a stronger sense of security for its occupants.
  3. Prior to the new school building South Central Unified School District 5 was utilizing the NCAPS curriculum in their traditional classroom setting. Understand how teaching and learning has evolved from the traditional setting to this new environment.
  4. Participants will see how this teaching and learning model is creating more opportunities for community, cross collaboration, and exploration between disciplines.

Think. Dream. Design. Dare. A New Early Childhood Center!
Nandita P. Mishra, Assoc. AIA, ALEP, LEED AP, TMP Architecture
Catherine Kochanski, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools
Eduardo Blanc, Intl. Assoc. AIA, TMP Architecture

The increasing awareness of the long term benefits of early childhood education over the past decade has led to a growing demand for specialized facilities to care of young children, distinctively different from other forms of childcare. It is imperative that the design of these facilities support our youngest learners. Administrators, designers, and educators must consider a facility that supports the whole child through interconnected and holistic learning, taking extreme care to create environments that will be a catalyst for healthy brain development. It is vital that they create a shared vision in order to realize this ideal environment. This presentation will focus on the impact of nature on sensory and cognitive development, the process of curriculum planning for holistic and systemic learning progressions, and designing spaces that allow playful experiences and support the child’s physical, social, and mental health and well-being.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Learn about early childhood development and the positive effects of creating environments that support the whole child
  2. Understand the importance of a strong curriculum vision and its impact on current effective pedagogy and future trends
  3. Discuss how to get buy-in for your vision from key internal and external stakeholders
  4. Identify how the curricular goals are used to refine and perfect the design of the built environment
  5. How to maintain your vision through budgetary constraints in the implementation process

LEAD Innovation Studio: Reimagining High School Learning for Long-Term Success
Dr. Jaime Dial, Director of Secondary Education
Dr. Ryan Stanley, LEAD Innovation Studio Principal

The Park Hill School District is providing a dramatic change in the choice students have in how they experience their high school coursework. Our efforts have been focused on giving students the opportunity to experience a strong curriculum with problem, project, and professional-based learning experiences within a more flexible schedule. After a multi-year test fit in a non-traditional office building setting, the Park Hill School District community has committed to constructing a building for this program and recognize the future impact it may have on high school in general. Join us to hear how we went through a process to “unlearn” what had become the artifacts of education to create nimble curriculum and space for shifting generations. This session will be a preface to the facility tour offered, providing participants the opportunity for a deep dive into the “why” behind such an important new learning space in the community.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will understand one district’s approach to creating curriculum focused on college and career readiness.
  2. Participants will explore the various methods and opportunities for stakeholder input as a new concept for high school learning was created.
  3. Participants will learn how a test fit process influenced the creation of a permanent space for high school learning.
  4. Participants will explore a process to rethink the traditional high school physical environment for future focused learning.

TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021 | 2:45 -3:45 PM
Learners as the Co-Designers of School: The Bennett Day School Learning Story of School and Space Design
Kate Cicchelli, Bennett Day School
Cameron Smith, Bennett Day School
Meg Fitsgerald, Bennett Day School
Erica Fishman Smith, Erica Gail, LLC.
Martin Morgan, Bennett Day School

How might we design the shared space of school if learners were our co-designers and we considered it an ongoing conversation about learning space design? The classroom and school environment play a pivotal role in the foundation of a child’s development and their family’s learning experience. The co-design of school and learning spaces with learners --- children, faculty, and families as active designers in the design process can play a very important role. The co-design process can serve to provoke learning about space and place as well as foster relationships and collaborations critical for learning and school community development. At Bennett Day School, we are on a school and space design journey with our community for the intentional design of our school, our classrooms, and our shared social spaces. The project served us as an active learning experience about school design and provided a foundation for our ongoing relationships and conversations about our spaces and places of learning. This design experience has inspired an ongoing inquiry about how learners socially experience space and place, how they may participate as active co-designers in school and space design, and how learners feel a connectedness to other shared learning spaces in which they co-design such as “home.” This inquiry further generated a series of important design principles that help to guide our ongoing conversations about the social, space and learning design of Bennett Day School, for our community to live, learn and thrive within. In this presentation, we’ll share with attendees our learning story of co-designing the school and space that is Bennett Day School, a beautiful and historic 35,000-square-foot multi-level campus in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. Bennett Day School is located in a historic building that once offered spaces and educational services to families in need as the Chicago Commons “settlement house” established 1901. In the 1980s, the building housed the Gospel League Home, a shelter for women and children run by the Pacific Garden Mission. Closing in the early 2000s, the building remained vacant until 2014, when its history and building inspired the design of Bennett Day School and became the home for our progressive, collaborative and community approach to co-designing learning and the experience of school.

Learning Objectives:
  1. The learner – child, families, faculty, design professionals, as the co-designer of school.
  2. How to design and execute a co-design process that can serve to provoke learning about space and place as well as foster relationships and collaborations within the school community.
  3. How learners feel a connectedness to other shared learning spaces in which they co-design, such as “home.”
  4. A progressive, collaborative and community approach to co-designing learning and the experience of school.

Supporting Project-Based Teaching and Learning: A Case Study of North Kansas City Schools SAGE Program
Danelle Marsden, Ed.D., North Kansas City School District
Erin Nash, North Kansas City School District
Steven Turckes, FAIA, ALEP, LEED AP, Perkins and Will

In 2015 North Kansas City Schools undertook a unique project partnering with private industry to build a facility customized for their SAGE program (Students in Academically Gifted Education). SAGE is a program that allows gifted students from across the district to become independent learners and decision makers who recognize their potential and responsibilities in a changing global society. SAGE has a proud heritage of serving gifted students since 1974. Previously housed in separate facilities, the new SAGE Center provides a new home for over 900 academically gifted K-8 students at the Northland Innovation Campus. The SAGE Center is a student-centered, collaborative, flexible, and open-concept learning environment. This new center provides SAGE a one-to-world computing environment where students learn via real-world problem solving using critical thinking skills. SAGE students have access to a variety of technological resources in a highly flexible learning environment which fosters creativity and innovation. This case-study session will highlight and provide insight into the origins of the project, the planning process which unlocked the true north of the educational program, and the innovative facility solution in which that program now flourishes. This session will also share insights into the unique needs of academically gifted students.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Gain an awareness about how this public/private partnership helped bring the project to fruition.
  2. Understand how the planning process helped the client team think differently about space and move away from traditional models.
  3. Understand how the building planning supports the intensive project-based curriculum.
  4. Learn about the special characteristics and needs of academically gifted students.

Design Smarter: Crafting Learning Spaces with Research Driven Metrics
David Reid, AIA, ALEP, UDL Associate, Gould Evans
Haidee Jackson, University of Kansas
Katie Pohlman, LEED AP, Gould Evans
Sally Wurtzler, AIA, Gould Evans

Our contemporary world is data-driven; yet, design decisions for our contemporary learning environments are often guided by intuition, and design outcomes for these decisions are insufficiently measured. In January 2019, five classrooms in five schools were transformed to support new ways of teaching and learning as part of a research project undertaken by Gould Evans and the KU School of Education. The impacts of these new learning environments are being studied using eight different metrics. Now entering its second year, this longitudinal project is applying validated measures, both qualitative and quantitative, evaluating student engagement, student belonging, student ownership, student creativity, classroom management, wellness, future readiness, and equity. Attendees will be able to use the outcomes of the study to guide their school design efforts with more science-based intentionality.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Utilize scientific evidence to lend more insight to the selection of furniture applications for schools, centered around student outcomes and wellness.
  2. Understand and leverage the value of these multiple survey measures to improve classroom strategies in support of multiple learner variabilities.
  3. Implement design strategies and insights from the five survey sites to improve educator efficacy.
  4. Learn from the "student voice" how space impacts culture of the classroom and learner engagement.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 2021 | 8:15 – 9:15 AM
Panel Discussion: Designing and Maintaining Spaces that Allow Teachers and Students to Thrive
Jonathan Stanley, Tarkett, VP Education – Panel Facilitator
Ian Kilpatrick, AIA, NCARB, Senior Associate, DLR Group
Dr. Marilyn Denison, Ed.D., Senior Associate, DLR Group
Darrell Meyer, Meyer Building Solutions

The built environment has created multiple opportunities impact the student experience. However, the instructor is also highly impacted by the built environment which ultimately impacts the student experience. The panel group is poised to discuss their experiences within the design and operating roles of the built environments impact on both the instructor and the student. Their personal stories from multiple viewpoints will give a unique and diverse takeaways.

Regenerative Design Programming Workshop
Jennifer Garman, AIA, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.
John Pfluger, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.
Paul Hutton, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

With the reality of climate change, we are gifted the opportunity to be creative. To help schools be leaders of innovation, where sites and buildings help create an environment for regenerative and positive change, both socially and environmentally. School is a place where students are encouraged to explore, discover and grow physically, mentally and academically. We’ve asked ourselves: What if the building and surrounding site/community could be designed as a learning tool and integrated into curriculum? What if the building taught children about energy use and production? What if the architecture immersed students in the social and environmental needs of this generation? Join us to learn about how Cuningham Group identified an opportunity to help districts, administration and teachers articulate their values and goals relative to the broad umbrella of sustainability. Members of our team will discuss how the creation of a new process, including a sustainability/well-being survey and an interactive regenerative design workshop, has helped districts envision how their schools may contribute to the larger societal and environmental needs of their community. Through an interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to different areas of regenerative design and asked to prioritize interventions as it relates to their goals. In practice, this process is used to inform next steps from both a design and a financial standpoint, where districts galvanize around these central visions to help maintain a strong focus as the design develops.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Help participants envision how their schools contribute to the larger society and environmental needs of their communities.
  2. Teach the fundamental differences between regenerative design strategies versus sustainable design strategies.
  3. Guide them in understanding the elements needed to implement a successful process – understand role of goal setting and establishing vision and values with a group of both district and community members.
  4. Help participants grasp potential next steps for their districts from both a design and financial standpoint as it relates to regenerative approaches.

Stopping School Violence in Its Tracks
Dan Carney, Director of Safety & Security, Blue Valley School District

Many school administrators and teachers in America today feel violence in their schools is inevitable, and our best course of action is concentrating our efforts on reaction and response. The popularity of programs encouraging “counter tactics” or “fighting back” is evidence of this assertion, but is this where we should be placing our highest priority?

Better answers can be found in the convergence of research-based prevention and physical security.

The adoption of a school culture that is grounded in trusted adult/student relationships coupled with a strategy for timely intervention and management of those on a path to violence.
  • The implementation of physical security based on an accurate understanding of how violent behavior has been executed in the past.

Attendees will leave this program with a clear understanding of how they can play a critical role in preventing violence in schools.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Participants will explore data from previous acts of violence on schools and the takeaways for future school planning.
  2. Participants will learn how school culture can impact the prevention of acts of violence.
  3. Participants will explore options for the physical environment to play a positive role in the prevention of acts of violence.
  4. Participants will understand how safety and security best-practices can be applied to both the exterior and interior school environment.

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