Students and teachers from Grace participated in an unusual field trip on Thursday, November 1. They traveled to the Palmer House hotel in downtown Chicago to a conference sponsored by the Association for Learning Environments, where they participated in a session titled “Tapping into the Creative Potential of Teachers and Students as Designers.”
The architects and designers participating in the session worked in small groups with Grace eighth-graders to brainstorm redesign ideas for learning spaces in our building. The goal was to learn how to engage students and teachers in the design process. They are important stakeholders in questions about learning environments, yet they are often left out of the design process.
Discussions focused on four spaces: the gym mezzanine, the Learning Media Center, the third-floor school commons, and the handbell rehearsal room. Principal Bill Koehne, eighth-grade teacher and handbell director Lisa Wolfanger, and learning-medias specialist Christa Holm also participated in the process. Students took the lead in presenting their ideas to the whole group.
“We were blown away by your students' poise, creativity and public speaking skills!” said Julie Baeb, one of the session leaders, in a follow-up email to Mr. Koehne. She works on the design team at the Minnetonka Public Schools in Minnesota and is a former member of Grace Church.