Alberta’s first full IB World School wanted unified innovative spaces to reflect their values.
Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School is a private university prep school in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada and is Alberta’s only independent school authorized to deliver International Baccalaureate Programs in Grades K through 12. Along with these rigorous academic programs, the school provides each student opportunities to self-actualize through a wide range of co-curricular learning experiences. STS’s older building was disjointed due to multiple renovations, the spectacular natural campus was not being well utilized, and the school community realized that they needed to offer a more innovative approach to learning to stay competitive.
We served as STS’s co-creator, adding a large addition, unifying the central heart of the school and entrance, and most importantly, integrating a Learning Community model in the new wing. Leaving the classroom behind posed challenges for teachers: “How do we schedule these multiple spaces?” “Where do I sit without a desk at the front?” “How do I keep track of students when they’re off doing different activities?” The adults were experiencing disorientation from the shift, but STS had an advantage over many school communities in that their curriculum and values already embraced the concept of student-directed learning experiences. And the students, when presented with spaces that made this easier, knew just what to do.
They gravitated towards the spaces and amenities that attracted them, and that allowed them to follow their interests organically. And teachers started learning to take a step back, to act more like mentors and coaches. While this is an on-going process, all members of the STS community are working together to continue turning their early visions of change into this exciting, and sometimes challenging reality.
This fly-through shows the new wing in the conceptual phase. Opportunities for learning are everywhere, leading students to follow their interests.