Design for Learning

Creating spaces that support social-emotional well-being

by Jenny DuClos, Director of Counseling & Social Emotional Learning

Donna and I were recently invited to attend and present at the Architecture, Media and Politics Society (AMPS) conference at Florida State University in Tallahassee. We were accompanied by Thomas Peterman, who was the lead architect in designing Inly’s new building (completed in 2016), and Diane Foucar-Szocki, Professor of Education at James Madison University. We collectively submitted a presentation called, ‘Design for Learning’ which highlighted the many design features of our new building; all of which were thoughtfully conceived and configured with social and emotional well-being in mind. 

“The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult.”

Maria Montessori
“Destination Exploration” stations dot the colorful halls around the school, providing a space for students to step away from the classroom and enjoy some free time with one another. Students regulate their own time spent there, using a 10-minute sand timer.

We discussed how the physical spaces of our building encourage collaboration, foster independence, spark creativity and flow, and allow for joyful interactions to occur between students, teachers, and visitors. We shared how our Montessori+™ philosophy has informed, not only the design of our campus, but how we follow the child and allow for trust in their own exploration and use of our campus.

Inly’s main entrance before Tom Peterman reimagined the new building.
Inly’s new main entrance features a rounded “barn” building, which houses the Library on the second floor and da Vinci Studio maker space on the first floor.

We showed audience members early pictures of Inly, as well as the process that took part in reimagining the round barn building; housing our beautiful library and da Vinci studio, as well as our light-filled, cozy, child-centered CH and LE classrooms, which all look out onto green spaces, and seamlessly bring the outside in. Our team also highlighted the support for Social Emotional Learning that our children enjoy in such purposefully designed areas.

Light-filled classrooms feature cozy workspaces for small-group collaboration.

Aside from it being a pleasure to have the opportunity to present about so many of the things that make Inly a truly unique and ideal environment to learn and grow in, the conference was also a wonderful opportunity to learn from others. There were inspiring talks by keynote speakers, and workshops offered by practitioners from around the globe, spanning various disciplines from architecture, interior design, psychology and education. It was invigorating to take part in an interdisciplinary conference, with participants all highly committed to thoughtful design of the spaces in which we learn, share, and spend our time.

Jenny DuClos is Inly’s Director of Counseling and Social Emotional Learning. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), she has experience as both an art teacher and preschool teacher for special needs children. Read Jenny’s complete bio here.

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