How do you do more with what you have?

That’s the problem Jamey Robertson set out to solve with his colleagues at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Kenora two years ago.

The result, getting the final touches over the summer, are innovative studio-like class setups for the school’s Grade 7 and 8 division. The project used space and furniture choices to reshape the traditional classrooms into a more flexible, comfortable learning environment. Assigned seating? Not really important. The desks? They’re on wheels. The kids? Loving it. 

Robertson, who is the school’s Innovation and Creativity Coordinator, said it was important to approach the task in a collaborative way, with teachers and students working and learning to make optimal use of the spaces together.

“It’s a common phrase that the space is the third teacher,” said Robertson. 

“And I think that’s something these spaces do  accomplish.”

The same pieces are in every room, but with every item intentionally mobile, they can be completely reshaped for what students want to do with them that day, turning the classroom itself into a learning tool. This approach has created an atmosphere of ownership and respect for the space, Robertson said.

“I haven’t heard anything from the students but how much they felt recognized, and listened to, about creating a climate that they felt at home in,” he said. “We’re shaping spaces that are really based around community, and that approach is really based around our spirituality. I really think it fits.”

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