Instructional practice, technology, and space all work together to provide a balanced approach to teaching and learning. Over the past five years, Mentor Schools has worked to provide student-focused learning spaces by creating flexible environments that are comfortable for both students and teachers. Teachers no longer lecture from the front of the classroom to students lined up in desks in rows. Instead, they move around, facilitating learning from group to group. Opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, and communicating are stressed within a flexible environment where students are no longer just consumers of knowledge, but instead creators.
We were able to fund the classroom redesigns at our high school as part of a shared State of Ohio Straight A Fund grant ($13.8 Million). These redesigns included new flexible furniture, enhanced technology, carpet, lighting, white boards, and fresh paint. Each teacher had the opportunity to collaborate and make choices for their own classrooms in the process.
Beyond using grant dollars for the high school, we have also redesigned all of our middle school classrooms and are currently focusing on our elementary school spaces.
As part of this grant, we were also able to build our 16,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art professional development center, Paradigm.