In April I was asked to join a team to design and build “the best school in America”, a provocative and audacious challenge from the edu-leaders at Alamogordo (NM) Public Schools. Alamogordo is a small, diverse, rural lower and middle class town tucked away alongside the extraordinary beauty and climate of the Tularosa Basin, the Sacramento Mountains, White Sands National Monument, and the incredible team at nearby Holloman Air Force Base
This school utterly busts the old learning model based on cookie-cutter classrooms where students and teachers spend most of their time. Like other leaders in this area like Design 39 Campus, Mt. Vernon School, High Tech High, Kingsway College (Toronto), and Hobsonville Point Secondary (Auckland), we will provide flexible, dynamic, learning spaces where classes can “pulse” in and out of spaces where teachers “lecture” and students make, build, breakout, collaborate, experiment, and design. They won’t have to go across campus for any of these learning experiences; the variety of learning spaces will be clustered for quick, easy access to all classes.
And adults will be part of the dynamic learning system. Teacher colab spaces will be spread throughout the school with visible access to students. Administrators will not be clustered at the school entrance, but rather distributed amongst the learning clusters where they are needed.
The school will take advantage of the temperate climate much of the year with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor access to a variety of learning spaces that we know engage our students and break up the monotony of many school days.
In pitching the design at the state level, the district leaders have made a strong statement: Yes, this design exceeds the required code. But it is about time we gave our students more than the lowest legal minimum if we want them to thrive amongst the daunting challenges of a rapidly changing world. Stay tuned for updates!