Schools with robust Learning Commons are schools in which students have access to new worlds through books; are taught to navigate the world of information through multiple platforms; and who not only attain literacy, but also enjoy it. School Learning Commons build skills which can propel students towards academic and personal success, with measurable positive impacts.

On March 13, 2020, many students across North Carolina went to their schools for the last time of the 2019-2020 school year. COVID-19 was labeled a pandemic, as it spread across the United States forcing students and their families into quarantine. High school seniors who normally looked forward to special events like the prom and graduation were now facing the fact that these events were cancelled or being held online. Due to this, I was worried my summer internship would also be cancelled, so when I received my internship notification letter on May 18, 2020, I was ecstatic!

We want to create spaces where children want to be. In the spaces we experience, few design elements are as high-impact and low-cost as color. A well-chosen color scheme can improve safety, support mental focus, protect vision, elevate mood, assist with wayfinding, promote kindness, encourage active learning, reinforce branding, and create a welcoming learning environment for all. Which colors work, and which colors don’t? There is no one-size-fits-all solution to color selection in the school environment.

School districts across the United States (and around the world) have been impacted by the recent COVID-19 virus outbreak. School closures have affected 9 out of 10 children globally; we have never before experienced an educational disruption of this scale and duration. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents all look forward to schools reopening, sooner or later, begging the question: What happens when we return to school?

School systems around the country are constantly navigating an ever-changing educational landscape. In addition to implementing curricula and meeting the academic, emotional, and physical needs of a diverse and rapidly growing population of students, school systems must accommodate changing demographics, shifting class sizes, evolving pedagogies, increased technology requirements, trends in flexibility, and increased security. All of these elements have hastened the need to modernize campuses throughout the US.

Last century’s model of high school typically included two tracks: an academic path that prepared students for college, and a vocational path that prepared students to enter directly into the workforce after graduation. Today’s economy demands greater flexibility and broader options, and our 21st century models of education recognize that all students benefit from hands-on learning. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offer this flexibility and real-world skills development, giving all students a head start on the future with coursework which transfers to college, technical college, or the workforce.

Unlike the compartmentalized, lecture-based school models of the past, today’s educational facilities are blurring the lines between disciplines and encouraging collaborative, hands-on learning. On a community scale, our school systems are likewise breaking down educational silos to create centers for multidisciplinary teaching and learning. Rather than building single-use, single-user facilities which will function in isolation and meet one particular need, school systems are increasingly focused on creating spaces for new paradigms of teaching and learning and building meaningful partnerships in the process.

As school districts nationwide plan for long-term maintenance and construction costs, they share a number of common concerns. Districts ask, “How much is a typical monthly maintenance bill, and what does it include? How much does it cost to bring a school up to ‘21st century learning’ standards? How much would it cost to build new? What’s the monthly maintenance cost difference between a renovated building and a new facility? What is the up-front cost difference between renovation and new construction?”