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Supportive learning environments in Illinois

The Effingham County Daily News posted a recent article about how schools in this area were recognized for supportive learning environments. 452 Illinois schools districts “received GreatSchools, the leading provider of school information, inaugural Thrive Award”. 66% of those school districts that received the award serve a high population of students from low-income families.

This award looks to celebrate the effort that public schools in Illinois have made in order to create positive, supportive learning environments for students and also staff. In order to achieve it, schools need to complete and score favorably on the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual 5Essentials Survey. This form needs to be fulfilled by students and staff at state¡s public schools and the results of the survey will show the school's environment. “This award marks another important milestone in the organization’s goal to present a richer picture of school quality for parents that goes beyond test scores”.

“Our goal has always been to provide parents access to vital educational information that will help them find the right school for their child,” said GreatSchools CEO Jon Deane. The Thrive Award delivers a unique opportunity for parents to gain a broader understanding of what makes a school great — and visualize what happens inside the building when they drop their child off each day. By easily accessing this information, we hope Illinois parents will feel more connected to their child’s school and, most importantly, more confident to advocate for their child’s needs.”

The Thrive Award and 5Essentials Survey data provide information about schools in 5 different categories: leadership, teaching culture, family engagement, academics and learning environments.

“All parents want their children to have a positive learning environment that makes them feel safe, challenged and supported,” said Illinois Parent Teacher Association President Carolyn McCarty. “Family engagement is a critical component of this vision, as parents are key partners in helping students learn. Understanding how schools value parent input and participation is incredibly useful for families as they strive to support a school’s mission and aspirations of success for all students.”

This and other initiatives show how important it is to value learning environments.To provide a safe space for students to grow and learn has become a priority matter when it comes to education. At MKThink we are also looking at how learning environments can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how those spaces are designed considering factors such as wellbeing and safety. At Hillbrook School in Los Gatos, CA, we re-organized the entire campus plan to be centered around "making and creativity" with a Maker's HUB, amphitheater and outdoor exploration area located at the center of the school. These spaces signal to students the importance leadership and faculty have places on these activities. What ideas do you have for your spaces?


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