Looney brings back ideas from School of the Future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2007

Superintendent Mike Looney said last week's visit to the School of the Future gave him the opportunity to &#8220think outside the box” as it relates to school design and layout.

&#8220It was affirming to learn that our plans match those of the school of the future,” said Looney. &#8220The emphasis on building small learning communities within the school, to focus curriculum on real life applications and to transform the traditional role of teacher to that of learning facilitator represents our best thinking and theirs.”

Looney, along with Superintendents from Hartselle and Elmore Counties, along with architects from the Montgomery firm of Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood, were among those visiting the $63 million school in Philadelphia.

The school - a joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and the School District of Philadelphia - opened in 2006 and incorporates advanced teaching and learning technology throughout the facility.

Looney said the school features, among other things, a revolving auditorium and orchestra pit.

&#8220While we certainly have no intentions of incorporating the bells and whistles found at the school of the futureŠ we can learn from their commitment to building a quality learning environment, designed to be flexible, using environmentally friendly technologies,” said Looney.

Looney will oversee construction of a $15 million, 100,000-square foot K-12 building in Georgiana. Looney said he expects construction on the facility to commence soon.

Built in a traditionally low-income neighborhood near the Philadelphia zoo, the School of the Future was designed as a working model, one whose concept could be adapted and replicated by other systems seeking ways to broaden and deepen the educational experience.

Microsoft chose not to fund the construction, but rather to donate human resources, assigning educators and technical assistance to create the learning environment.

Advocate publisher Ed Darling contributed to this report.