As a parent, relative, teacher, faculty member, etc., there is one thing you all probably have in common. That is, the desire for your children or the children that you teach to perform well.
Student achievement is often purely looked at from the perspective of the strength of the curriculum or the quality of the teachers. While these things are all vital to the success of their achievement, there is another factor that has been overlooked in the past, but has been given more attention in recent years.
The sustainability of the actual school building.
Over the last few years, there have been a number of studies showing a direct correlation between school facility conditions and student performance. They all conclude that, a greener learning environment does impact a student’s ability to perform well. While having a healthy learning environment may seem intuitive, many of us might not understand just how exactly a greener environment impacts a student’s performance.
Just What Is A Green School?
A Green or High Performing School can be characterized by many things. They help conserve resources through energy efficiency, lowering utility costs, and reducing waste. In addition, they provide things like clean air, natural light, an environment free of toxic materials and chemicals, and much more.
Read more about characteristics of a green school here:
How Green Schools Help Academic Performance:
The Center for Green Schools has rounded up 4 ways in which green schools contribute to learning.
ATI’s Focus on Greener Schools:
ATI strives for sustainable and energy efficient design in its efforts to minimize the impact of the built environment on natural resources, acknowledging the increasing need to become more sensitive to preserving our natural resources and the environment. Our on-going involvement with governmental funded projects has mandated the incorporation of green building design.
Beginning with its own staff, ATI has been a proponent of Green Building Design. ATI sponsors staff to obtain LEED Certification and Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Training.
Re-use Design/Emily™ :
Over the years, ATI listened carefully to our clients and as a result, embarked on a long term initiative to provide a high value classroom package solution. Unlike modulars and portables, ATI has created classroom design packages and processed them for approval by DSA as PC’s. These designs have been branded Emily™. The Emily™ product line now boasts various single-story and two-story classroom designs including standard single wing, various sized back-to-back classroom wings, and two-story classrooms containing a combination of up to 10 standard 960 sf or a combination of 960/1,350 sf classrooms. Our designs allow for integrated bathroom and storage facilities and they have been configured for administrative spaces, libraries, technology centers and a host of other program uses. Emily™ buildings utilize both passive and active energy conservation technologies as well as the most current thinking in sustainable design. If you are interested in learning more about Emily, go to www.emilyreusedesign.com
Here are just some of ATI’s CHPS Certified School Projects:
Pittsburg USD, Martin Luther King, Jr., Junior High School: CHPS Verified 26 Points
New Haven USD, Conley-Caraballo High School: CHPS Verified 42 Points
Roseville JUHSD, Adelante High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Little Mountain Elementary School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Middle College High School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
Windsor USD, Windsor High School CTE Bldg: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 38 Points
Black Oak Mine USD, Golden Sierra High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
Piedmont USD, Havens Elementary School: CHPS Designed 20 Points
There are many positive outcomes to a greener, more sustainable learning environment. At ATI, we have made sustainability a priority by creating designs that meet the needs of this generation without compromising the needs of generations to come.
Ever since the Brooks Elementary School opened in 1988, the community continued to grow and many new subdivisions were added around the school to form the newly incorporated community of Windsor township. Brooks Elementary School currently serves 460 4th and 5th graders. 
ATI Architects and Engineers were selected to design a new 2-story EmilyTM classroom building and a library on campus. After 27 years, this is the first time Brooks Elementary school will have a major new construction project on the campus. The 2-story building, which contains 10 classrooms, will replace some of the existing portables. The need for advanced technology at Brooks Elementary School has grown at a rapid rate. The new classrooms are designed to Classrooms of the 21st Century standards. Students and teachers will have the technology and flexibility needed to enhance learning.
“The building will be very prominent on the campus. The location of the building facing the courtyard will enhance the schools overall physical environment. The new classrooms and library will be an uplifting learning space for students and teachers alike.” said Rup Chand, Principal and Project Manager.
The environment of classroom learning is shifting as technology is now the equivalent of a #2 pencil. Districts, schools, and teachers are learning new methods to support a 21st Century Learning environment through digital learning. With the world literally at student’s fingertips, these new 21st Century learners need quick access to information and are capable of learning at a whole new level with a constantly evolving array of technological tools and activities.
Far more important is the educator’s role in employing material that is accessible and engaging in a technology-infused learning environment. The outcome of this transformation means fusing the traditional three R’s (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) with the four C’s (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration). These 21st Century skills are now a requirement in the classrooms in order to prepare students for this progressing globalized workforce.
We recently asked our Associates to define and describe a 21st Century Learning Classroom from their own perspectives.
“How do you define 21st Century Learning?”
Associate, Project Manager
“21st Century Learning uses technology to offer a variety of learning experiences for students. It’s no longer about a teacher lecturing to a class. It’s about students working in small groups to solve problems together, working on projects from different vantage points to see patterns in the world, mixing student ages so that older kids can teach younger kids and in the process expand their own learning. Using technology to enhance learning, whether it’s researching a topic on the Internet, using virtual reality to explore a molecule’s structure, or teleconferencing with students their own age across the world. 21st Century Learning expands the learning possibilities beyond the four walls of the classroom.”
“List adjectives that describe a 21st Century Classroom.”
Anna Win, AIA, LEED AP
Associate, Senior Project Manager
“Mobility, flexibility, scalability → enduring use, longevity and relevance
Indoor/outdoor connectivity → learning environment without prescribed physical boundaries
Team-oriented, project-based → social, hands-on learning”
No longer does learning have to be teacher-centered, one-way, one-size-fits-all. More schools are transfiguring their classrooms into a very exciting environment. Classrooms are no longer that quiet classroom, but rather a class that is vibrant, vocal, and where children are talking, collaborating, and helping one another. 21st Century Learning involves more than just the use of technology, but students using technology to achieve goals in a different way than what was possible before.
ATI Facebook Page:
Let’s go back to the beginning; all the way back to our first Emily™ classroom…
It was back in 2003 when ATI first designed Emily™. Mount Diablo USD had a need to replace old classroom buildings and expand their school sites. We not only wanted to win this project but we wanted to create a design that would become a learning environment of the future. We envisioned these classrooms being built at every school district.
In our mind, the classroom of the future had to be adaptable to various educational specifications. It needed to have a fast construction schedule. It needed to be permanent construction and built on-site, opposed to portable or modular construction.
And so the process began… It began with thinking about the learning environment and of those who would use them. We sought guidance from students, teachers, administrators, contractors, vendors, and facilities personnel. We asked them what they needed, what was important in their classroom, and what they wished for the future.
Then with time, what began life as Abigail shaped into Beatrice and finally came to full fruition as Emily™…These classroom buildings can be found throughout the Mt. Diablo USD as well as throughout the State of California. Today, over 1,000 Emily™ classrooms have been built and we thank all of our School District clients for challenging us to not only just design, but to develop a classroom of the future.
If your school is thinking about expanding or rebuilding, we encourage you to meet Emily™. We think you’ll agree that her performance earns an A+.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, announced 193 Middle Schools and 180 High Schools have been honored under the State’s new Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.
ATI would like to congratulate our School District Clients who received this award. We believe our teachers and students deserve the best learning environments and we accomplish this in our designs. We create flexible and adaptable learning spaces which are conducive to any teaching and learning style. Below is a list of our School District Clients and their respective schools who earned awards.
Antioch Unified School District:
Dozier-Libbey Medical High School
San Ramon Valley Unified School District:
Monte Vista High School
San Ramon Valley High School
Charlotte Wood Middle School
Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District:
Granada High School
ABC Unified School District:
Artesia High School
Moreno Valley Unified School District:
Bayside Community Day School
“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” Torlakson said. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”
The Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program recognizes California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include, the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.
San Marcos USD hired ATI to expand San Marcos Elementary School by adding on four EmilyTM Classroom Buildings. The EmilyTM Classrooms provided the District with a fast solution to their overcrowding problem. The prototypical classrooms are 960 sf each, DSA Pre-Checked, and feature a metal roof and block veneer wainscot to tie the existing buildings on campus.
Check out the short clip below featuring this project.
Do you remember as a kid asking your teacher, “Can we have class outside today?! Pleaaaaassseeee?!!” It was so rewarding to be outside breathing in fresh air while learning the Capitals of the 50 States. In California where the weather is nice 99.9% of the time, I wonder why there aren’t more outdoor classrooms.
There are so many benefits of using the outdoors as your classroom. I recently read an article that reports a study done by the U.K.’s King’s College London that proposes teaching outdoors makes educators more confident and enthusiastic about their work, and more innovative in their teaching strategies. Other studies have showed that time outdoors helps students succeed in school by improving their memory, problem solving, and creativity. Being outside reinvigorates both students and teachers.
So, why am I blogging about learning in the outside environment? Well, if you recall from previous blogs ATI won a design competition for the San Juan Unified School District’s Winston Churchill Middle School Project. This is a 21st Century Learning School and, in addition to creating indoor flexible learning environments, our design for this campus expansion includes outdoor learning. Our creative Architects focused on bringing the inside learning environment to the outdoors.
There are concrete seats at the existing site and more will be added to provide additional outdoor learning spaces. The new Classroom Buildings will be jogged with alcoves, offering space for teachers to take students outside. Not only will this re-energize students and teachers, it also offers more space, flexibility, and small group learning.
Taking the Inside Out classroom approach will be the next development in California Schools. Your students and teachers deserve the best learning environments which nature can provide. As your School District grows and the need for more flexible learning environments evolves, consider the outdoor learning environment as a solution. It will enhance academic achievement when combined with the holistic elements of the evolving 21st Century Learning environment.
David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way. For more information on the David Suzuki Foundation, visit www.davidsuzuki.org.
To a play along with social media’s favorite hashtag #tbt, ATI has decided to look back at previous projects.
Today’s Throwback Thursday project is Adelante High School Emily™ Classrooms. Adelante High School started as little more than a single classroom housing 8 students and 1 instructor when it was established in 1965 at the Roseville City District’s Atlantic Street School. While working with the District, ATI developed a Master Plan that included partial modernization of the existing campus and portable replacements that were desperately needed. Emily™ was chosen as the best option to replace the portables and in the end six (6) classrooms and two (2) Administrative Offices/Classroom spaces were completed in 2007. This school received a 2008 Leroy F. Greene / A.I.A. Design Award of Merit. The photo shows a before and after comparison of the school.
The Emily™ classrooms designs have been built over a 1,000 times throughout the State of California. Emily™ classrooms are permanent construction which makes these designs the best solution to aging portables. We believe that Emily™ provides the learning environment that our students and teachers deserve.
Do you remember having classes in portable buildings?
We are in full swing in developing the next generation of ATI’s EmilyTM, DSA pre-approved prototypical classroom design, to fit Churchill Middle School and San Juan Unified School District’s needs. ATI’s project team has been meeting regularly with faculty, facilities personnel, and Board members in defining and further developing their ‘must haves’ and ‘wishes’. Now that the notebooks are closed and pens are down, we have a BIM model to present of the soon to be built classroom.
Take note of the large windows, open floor plan, and high ceilings. The easy to rearrange furniture allows flexibility for group work or lecture. Large interactive flat screens are mounted on all available walls are used to facilitate group work. The spacious attached office creates teacher privacy and can also serve as additional storage.
The excitement everyone on the project team shares is contagious. Stay tuned for more fun things to come!