New school designs help students achieve


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Innovative school designs will be part of what is featured at this week’s New York State School Board Association Conference & Expo in Rochester.

Senior Interior Designer Catherine Wolfe of Ashley McGraw Architects in Syracuse, will be one of the presenters. Wolfe discussed her work and how it’s helping students Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“Today we will be presenting on space and its impact on student success,” said Wolfe. “So by that what we’re really looking to do is get into a deep dive into a current project that we’ve completed down in the Groton Central School District. We are co-presenting with the superintendent, Margo Martin. We want to talk about what we did for the STEAM Learning Center, which was a renovation project recently completed in the past couple of years.”

Wolfe explained that the project re-imagined about 8,000 square feet of the middle and high school basement. “We completed a gut renovation. During the design process Margo was really instrumental in leading the ideas around different thinking of educational delivery and what she wanted for her students. At the time her students were polling at approximately 19% satisfaction in their educational delivery. So that was a huge call to action that something needed to change. We completed the gut renovation and we really did tap into all these different modes of learning, creating spaces for direct instruction – your traditional classroom setting where a teacher is the expert and conveys information down to the students. We created spaces for group work and collaboration, but also as just as important was creating spaces for students to have the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what they’re learning so that they can begin to gain their own understanding around them. The outcomes of this have been amazing. They’re now in their second year in using this space. The satisfaction in education delivery from the students has gone up from 19% up to 71%. So we’re moving in the right direction.”

The ideas and technology can be implemented anywhere, and that’s part of the appeal. “We are seeing it happen all over, not just New York state, not just the country, but around the world,” Wolfe noted. “All of these different initiatives are being pulled in so that we can create these environments that allow students to really tap into what it means to be sustainable. One example is at Groton where we recently completed that STEAM lab. We made a point to make sure that all of the services that are provided to help support that STEAM lab – that’s anything from their internet, their plumbing, their HVA systems – all of that is prominently on display within the lab space so that the students can learn and understand where everything’s coming from and what that actually means for what they’re doing on a day to day basis.”

Wolfe said the work produces high-performance buildings and learning environments.

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