Small scale, low cost, big impact projects that help schools find the path forward.
Fielding International’s “Pathfinder” projects are strategically designed for schools that are ready for educational innovation, shifting their pedagogy to a more Project-Based Learning and Student-Directed approach. These makeover projects enable students and teachers to implement and experience a new kind of collaborative learning environment that follows the patterns of a “Learning Community” model. These small-scale projects become the new models that illustrate new strategies for teaching and learning and allow teachers to develop new techniques.
Pathfinders bridge the gap between the Discovery phase and the Construction phase of a school building project. They provide authentic experience and validation for the school’s facilities master plan; they harness the energy and ideas of teaching and administrative staff to experiment with the physical and pedagogical changes necessary to create a 21st Century learning experience for students. Fielding works with schools to identify appropriate spaces such as libraries, smaller gyms, classroom zones or unused outbuildings for the Pathfinders. Then our team designs changes to those spaces such that they meet desired outcomes but fit within acceptable cost target. Often these projects require little need for major physical changes to a building. Spaces can be re-configured, surfaces redone, flexible furnishings added and technologies incorporated to create Pathfinder spaces that allow for a wider range of teaching and learning modalities.
Physical changes to spaces can serve as a significant catalyst to bring about changes to 21st Century teaching and learning. However, smaller teacher-developed projects focusing on furnishings, collaborative practices and pedagogy can produce tangible and immediate changes that have a positive impact on teaching and learning. Fielding works closely with teaching teams and administrators to create customized, objective-driven spaces, as well as furnishing and learning program plans.
Pathfinder Learning Communities can also serve as temporary educational spaces during the construction phase, avoiding disruption and allowing students to immediately benefit from innovative programming. Additionally, the Pathfinders become a space for teachers and administrators to work through challenges and obstacles in a non-threatening way. Professional development becomes a physical experiment rather than a theoretical one.
These relatively low cost projects also provide opportunity to illustrate what space and learning can look like in the future phases of a Master Plan. They are strategically selected after the Discovery phase based on:
- Key areas of need in the building and/or curriculum.
- Feasibility to transform the space affordably and quickly (usually over a summer). Interest and commitment of a professional team of educators who will collaborate to plan new and innovative learning experiences for students that will utilize the transformed space.
- Interest and commitment of a professional team of educators who will collaborate to plan new and innovative learning experiences for students that will utilize the transformed space.
Cranston Public Schools
Fielding helped navigate the District in establishing a ‘Pathfinder’ project that would set the standard for their educational spaces going forward. Cranston Public Schools’ showcase facility. Eden Park Elementary was the first step in the District’s plans to transform its aging building stock into modern, responsive learning environments to support all learners. Strategically designed to be a ‘model home” of sorts, this Pathfinder Project showcases the new direction and educational innovation that the District’s future facility projects will take in the years ahead, while setting the tone for shifting their pedagogy to a more Project-Based Learning and Student-Directed approach.
By reconfiguring underutilized circulation space, learning is now able to extend to shared areas outside the classroom. Classrooms are now studios, and the new space offers an interconnected array of different spatial types to support a variety of learning modalities to support all students.
As a testimonial to the project’s achievements. AIA Rhode Island, a statewide component of the American Institute of Architects, recently awarded Eden Park Elementary and Fielding International a 2020 Design Award of Merit. Additionally, the project has received international recognition, including a recent publication in Planning Learning Spaces.
Eden Park Elementary
Cranston Public Schools / Cranston, Rhode Island, USA
The Eden Park project proves that when a school is designed to support the whole student at every level, it will prepare them and their teachers for the 21st century and show them a new vision of the future through the joy of learning.