This October, KSS Architects attended the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Biennial Conference, a day full of conversation around the theme “Lead. Innovate. Collaborate.”
Our favorite moments can be captured in these 6 quotes from the perspectives of educators, school leaders, former students, and design professionals:
Hosted at the Episcopal Academy, the Biennial Conference started with a brief but engaging introduction from TJ Locke, Head of School. Dr. Locke emphasized the importance of a rigorous learning experience in a world where inquiry is ever more valuable and needed.
Patricia Noonan kicked the day off with an incredible Keynote that seized on the themes of leadership, innovation, and collaboration. Weaving together a story of voice, heart, and intellect, Noonan made a compelling case for educators to support students in their reclaiming of their uniqueness, their identity, their “weirdness”. Becoming boring, Noonan argued, is a form of not wanting to make mistakes. But the best way to help young people find their potential is to teach them how to give themselves permission.
Westtown School, Jeff Douthett of the University of Pennsylvania, and Mayva Donnon of KSS Architects pooled their collective expertise in crafting environments that respond to the pedagogies and students of tomorrow. Dr. Havilland discussed the importance of supporting teachers to encourage a culture of innovation in the learning environment.In a presentation called “Students of the Future: Thinkers, Doers, and Makers,” Dr. Margaret Haviland of
Emphasizing that the trend of active learning is more about action and less about technology, Jeff Douthett, the Director of Classroom Technology Services for the University of Pennsylvania, outlined the steps to creating an active learning environment.
Mayva Donnon, Principal at KSS Architects, touched on her expertise in designing learning environments that empower students toward independence, inquiry, and success. Using KSS’s design of Gottesman RTW Academy as a case study in best practices, Mayva delineated an approach that aligns a school’s mission and purpose with the learning environment. In discussing new trends toward makerspaces and fabrication labs, Mayva said “I notice how hungry students are to make things,” emphasizing that doing and making can extend beyond a designated space.
Penn Charter, Corey Kilbane packed his presentation, “More than a Makerspace” with a hands-on activity that demonstrated that students can engage in high-level learning without advanced technology. With cues and a supportive environment that encourage students to get messy, a Ziploc bag full of carboard stars and bendy straws can be transformed into a Buckminster Fuller ball, a building in miniature, a cityscape. Kilbane also offered up his blog as a resource rich in ideas and approaches to inquiry-based learning and makerspace activities.A Chemistry teacher at
The state of education is in constant flux—at the PAIS Biennial Conference, we relished the opportunity to engage with educators and non-educators alike to find common ground, identify future paths, and share ideas in the service of learning. Thank you to all who helped make it happen!