Elementary school

K–12 Education Environments

Resources and information on educational facilities for professionals serving the pK-12 market.


  • Building Blueprints

    Using Participatory Design to Create a Student-Centered Library

    The school district of Clayton High School prides itself on a commitment to a rich, rigorous academic culture, and wanted to offer its students a state-of-the-art library that reflected those priorities. The question was: What does a 21st-century teenager want out of a library these days, anyway?

  • Building Blueprints
    Lincoln School Retrofitted Exterior

    Retrofitting An Old Target Store into a New School Campus

    Studies show that retrofitting existing school buildings is both cheaper and greener, but what happens when a school district runs out of space for a growing student body?

  • Project-Based Learning
    a full size pirate ship in the classroom

    The Top 10 Things I Learned From Building a $51M PreK–12 Campus

    Berkshire Local Schools Superintendent John Stoddard gives the inside scoop on what he learned and the advice he’d give on the heels of completing a new PreK–12 campus in Burton, Ohio.

  • Design That Supports Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
    classroom with children in uniforms and raising hands to answer questions

    Behavior Management and Classroom Design Go Hand-In-Hand

    The pandemic has hurt the social-emotional development of students; however, it has also given K–12 leaders a unique opportunity to reimagine what our learning spaces might look like by considering them through a lens of equity, inclusion, and student empowerment. In doing so, we can improve student behavior and motivation at the same time.

  • Design That Supports Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
    colorful rockwall feature at school with students climbing

    Designing Equitable Experiences for Students with Special Needs

    The lessons learned from designing spaces for special education schools provide valuable insights for every school looking to improve equity and inclusivity on campus.

  • Campus Technology
    young girl attending class on her computer

    How Screen-Sharing Technology Can Transform Any Learning Environment

    We educators had our work cut out for us in the spring of 2020; we rose to the challenge and found ways to connect with our kids, no matter where they were. With no choice but to use whatever we had available, we dug deep into our resources to help our students (and ourselves) survive distance learning. Amazingly, what we did served our purposes not only for the duration of remote teaching, but changed our classroom practices for the better now that students are back in the classroom.

  • Campus Audio
    young girl holding cupping her hand around her ear to hear

    In Modern Learning Environments, Instructional Audio Isn’t Optional

    The secret is out: One of the best ways to boost student achievement is to ensure your students can clearly hear their teacher and classmates.

  • Campus Amenities
    Valley Christian Student Union

    What Goes into a Great Student Union Space?

    We thought a collegiate-like student union would be a great addition to our high school. Not only would it give students a flexible, collaborative place to come study, mingle and spend time, but it would also set the tone for what they can expect on a college campus.

  • Hybrid Learning

    Reimagining Learning Environments Through Technology Design in a Hybrid World

    As life makes its recovery in a “post-COVID” era, it has inevitably become a hybrid of in-person and virtual interactivity. When budgeting allows, it is critical that learning spaces are designed to become more flexible as technology is now integrated in our lives more than ever.

  • Evidence-Based Design
    The Thacher School walk through area with study nook

    Opening the Doors to Evidence-Based Design In Ojai, California

    In 2021, the Thacher School, located in Ojai, Calif., opened the doors to its project-based learning hub. The space was designed to support a multidisciplinary learning environment with collaborative common areas and classrooms that provide greater flexibility in their use.

  • Project-Based Learning
    STEM education project-based learning workshop space

    Hands-On Learning Spaces: 5 Lessons From Career Tech

    The expanding importance of STEM education and project-based learning requires a rethinking of the traditional school planning and design process. A practical way to start is to adopt a broader, non-traditional mindset, especially during a school project’s conceptual phases.

  • A/V Technology
    teacher pointing at computer screen in front of student

    Transforming Classrooms into Active Learning Environments

    Mark Hess, principal at Mary Helen Guest Elementary School in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Walled Lake, Mich., recently led the school through a new remodel that included transforming classrooms into active learning environments.

  • Project-Based Learning
    castle inside classroom area

    Ohio District Builds $52 Million Campus through Partnerships with Local Community, University

    Before being selected as the new superintendent, I was intrigued by their PRIME initiative, which stands for Partnership for Rural Innovative Models of Education. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be part of it. PRIME is the name that was given to an innovative PK–16 approach to education to consolidate our smaller rural schools into a larger PreK–12 school on the Kent State University – Geauga campus. The idea was to create more opportunities for our students while creating a more robust feeder system into the Kent State University system, the Auburn Career Center for technical skills, and University Hospitals for a new healthcare track for high-school students.

  • Transportation
    School Bus

    How School Districts Can Use Unprecedented Federal Funding to Transition to Electric Buses

    Amid economic concerns like rising gas prices and inflation impacting American communities and resources, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is bringing a bright spot to school districts across the country. The agency recently announced a new $5 billion fund, available immediately, to purchase clean school bus fleets and lessen reliance on diesel fuel.

  • A/V Technology
    elementary students using ClassVR

    A Picture Is Worth More Than A Thousand Words

    Imagine being transported to the deepest regions of space, or the nucleus of a cell, or the interior of a human heart. Imagine visiting the Great Wall of China, or Victorian-era London, or the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Reading about them is one thing; seeing them all around you is something else entirely. One educational virtual reality solution from Avantis Systems aims to provide students with experiences that they—or anyone—would never be able to see in real life.

  • Theaters/Performing Arts
    The Mapleton Arts Center exterior entrance

    All The World's A Stage

    Given the history of performing arts excellence in Mapleton, the district has committed to investing even more heavily in these programs by planting a legacy performing arts center to serve as a district-wide icon. Named The Mapleton Arts Center (The MAC), the building supports nearly 1,000 students across the district involved in Mapleton’s performing arts programs.

  • Campus Safety
    student pulling a gun out of a backpack

    Sitting Ducks Are For Carnivals—Not Schools

    What can be done to keep kids safe and make them feel safe while at school? As an administrator, this is the most important question you will ever need to answer. That’s because if the next Uvalde or Parkland or Sandy Hook happens on your watch, you will have to face many more uncomfortable questions, and you may be haunted by excruciating regrets. It all hinges on what you do now.

  • Rethinking Sports Facilities / Campus Amenities

    Considering Spill Light at Campus Athletic Facilities

    Although each piece of the project had its own unique set of challenges and considerations, the design and implementation of the outdoor lighting for the athletic field was particularly complex. The new lighting would need to be bright enough to allow activities and competitions to take place at night but regulated to the point where there would not be an excess of spill lighting that negatively affected those that lived in the nearby neighborhood.

  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    teacher cleaning a desk

    Enhanced Environmental Hygiene for K-12 Schools

    Schools can be breeding grounds for infection, but simple interventions can reduce absenteeism by providing a healthy, productive learning environment for students, teachers and staff.

  • THE Journal Spotlight
    hooded figure behind a wall of computer code

    IT Experts Call For Transparency and Accountability

    IT professionals are calling for greater transparency and accountability from school districts in their cybersecurity efforts—including mandated public disclosure when student or staff data has been breached.

  • Campus Security
    Tips for Overcoming the Supply Chain Crisis

    How Schools Can Combat the Supply Chain Crisis

    The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in the supply chain but also provided opportunities to strengthen it. We’ve realized that many K–12 school districts and higher ed institutions have outdated models for supply chain management and procurement, and they lack the technological platforms and processes that other industries have put into place.

  • Campus Security
    Teachers, Books and Clouds: 5 Ways the Cloud is Revolutionizing School Security

    Five Ways the Cloud is Revolutionizing School Security

    For so many schools today, math and spelling tests serve as accountability to ensure students work hard and concentrate on learning.

  • Expert Viewpoint

    Don't Hobble Your Building's Health

    A history of deferred maintenance could take the wind out of improved ventilation strategies.

  • School Safety

    COVID No Longer Dominates Concerns in K–12 Schools

    New research finds that COVID–19 safety measures are no longer the top concern among K–12 school administrators and staff. While it's still one important issue, the top concern for the coming year is student mental health.

  • Campus Amenities
    Three Creeks K8 Outdoor Learning Space

    How to Create Successful Outdoor Learning Spaces

    Outdoor learning spaces and classrooms have become a necessary element of successful next generation learning environments. We have seen firsthand the benefits of integrating the outdoors into the learning environment options to create a holistic, healthy, and stimulating environment for students and teachers.

  • Healthy Schools
    Student learning loss recovery

    Four Ways to Recover Pandemic Learning Loss

    The learning loss stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic begs the question: How can schools and districts help students recover with innovative literacy strategies? Here are four steps for recovering learning loss by focusing on literacy, fun and parent engagement.

  • Building Blueprints
    students sitting in auditorium area

    New Spaces for a New Era of Learning

  • Indoor Air Quality in Schools Is Necessary

    It is a well-known fact that the environment affects human performance, both physically and mentally. This is especially true for students, who are impacted by the quality of air in their learning environment.

  • person using calculator across from someone using a computer

    How Schools Can Maximize COVID Relief Funds

    ESSER and EANS funds are designed to help schools reopen quickly and safely, as well as address the months of significant learning loss by U.S. students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only now are experts beginning to understand the full scope of learning loss brought on by a year-plus of the pandemic – and initial reports are worrying.

  • Schools Reopen with Federal Dollars

  • Editor's Note

    The Slow Return to Normalcy

  • adult helping child wash their hands

    It's Everyone's Role To Keep Our Schools Healthy, Safe and Open

    Standard hygiene practices, like proper handwashing, are more important than ever.

  • Discovery High School exterior

    Discovery High School

    Grand Prize 2021 Education Design Showcase

  • Security & Planning
    Children running in a school hallway

    Preparing Teachers and Staff for an Active Shooter Event

  • HVAC & IAQ
    man cleaning ventilation screen

    Healthy Air Must Flow

  • May 2011 killer EF-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO

    Tornadoes, Shelters and Tubes, Oh My!

    Twister. Funnel. Whirlwind. A tornado by any other name is still considered the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster on earth. Occurring on all continents except Antarctica, tornadoes have both terrified and fascinated mankind for centuries. The U.S. averages almost 1,300 tornadoes per year, more than all other continents combined. How do we protect ourselves when a tornado strikes? It is this question that has driven architects, engineers and the construction industry to develop codes and guidelines such as ICC 500 and FEMA P-361. These guidelines, at least in part, will help to ensure the proper construction of tornado shelters in order to save lives.

  • Design Guidelines
    small classroom with three children sitting on puffs

    The "Human" in Human-Centered, Evidence-Based Design for Education

  • IAQ
    HVAC fans

    Mitigating the Risk of COVID-19 and Improving Indoor Air Quality in Schools

  • IAQ
    air purification

    Reimagining Air Purification in Classrooms After COVID-19

  • COVID-19 and Schools
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    CDC Revises Social Distancing Guidelines in Schools to 3 Feet

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Friday, March 19, that it is relaxing social distancing requirements for students returning to school for in-person learning. The organization has determined that students wearing masks in a classroom environment can be spaced just 3 feet apart.

  • Cybersecurity

    Audits Reveal Cybersecurity Weaknesses in New York School Districts

    The Office of the New York State Comptroller has completed audits on three school districts in the state. The audits uncovered that the districts have neglected to follow some crucial cybersecurity policies, leaving them potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks.

  • Health Policy

    CDC Releases Updated Guidance Plan for Reopening Schools

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated guide on how K-12 schools around the country can take steps to safely reopen—for good.

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

    Schools In Focus: Talking Campus Security with Mitch McKinley

  • Podcast
    Schools In Focus podcast logo and Mike Wolf and Ron Wendorski

    Schools In Focus: Indoor Air Quality

  • Media Center
    Midland Media Center, courtesy of Mien Company

    5 Tips for Modernizing a K-12 Media Center

    Here’s how Midland School District overhauled the media centers and turned them into central activity hubs for the schools.

  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    Someone with blue rubber gloves wiping down a desk.

    Does Your School Maintenance Plan Pass the Test?

    Although you set your initial school maintenance plan during the late summer months, now is a good time to evaluate its effectiveness, find opportunities to refine your processes, and make sure you and your teams are doing all you can to safeguard students and staff if and when they enter your doors in person.

  • best school projectors

    Best Projectors for Schools

  • Reader Survey
    reader survey

    The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 Policy in Education

    COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change every aspect of education in K–12 and higher education for the foreseeable future. We polled our readership to learn of the experiences taking place across the nation and get a glimpse of what's being planned going into the spring 2021 semester and beyond.

  • Learning Spaces
    wiggle room

    You Might Have A Calming Sensory Room. Do You Have A 'Wiggle Room,' Too?

  • Interiors
    school hallway

    It's All In The Details: Walls, Ceilings and Floors