It did not take an investigative report to uncover that journalism students at Redwood High School faced a challenge.  Running their school newspaper from a cramped room with outdated and over-sized furniture was one difficulty – sharing that space with another full classroom of students was quite another. A challenge made harder still by the fact that when fully utilized, the room lacked enough seats to accommodate every student. The student editors at the Redwood Bark however are used to diving into big problems, and with the help of a committed teacher and the team at One Workplace, these students found a great lead and ran with it!

Students crowd into the old Redwood Bark journalism classroom.

Journalism teacher Erin Schneider was familiar with the kinds of innovative solutions that might provide an opportunity for her classroom. She had recently toured an Active Learning Classroom at Hall Middle School in Larkspur CA, which was the recipient of a Steelcase ALC Grant Award. When Ms. Schneider reached out to Brandon Thomas at One Workplace to discuss how the ideas she had seen at Hall Middle might impact her students, she made sure her team of four Editors-in-Chief were actively engaged in developing a possible solution.

Working hand in hand with One Workplace designer Gabriella Cannon, the team of student editors identified how their current journalism classroom failed to meet their needs. Students pointed to large, heavy, inflexible furnishings, and lack of space to create layouts. They then worked to outline how their space ought to work, and what kinds of solutions would best satisfy the diverse needs of a combined classroom and a newsroom – plenty of layout space, and enough individual work spaces for each student. Finally they worked to combine those solutions with the flexibility to rearrange, break into groups, and dive into meetings, teams, or topics of interest.

The Editors-in-Chief try out an active learning classroom.

Once a final design solution had been agreed upon, the student editors at the Redwood Bark were not finished. Cannon assisted the students in preparing a presentation that they would deliver personally at a mid-October school board meeting. Armed with their compelling story, hands-on design experience, and physical samples of the actual furnishings they had selected (provided and delivered by Cannon), the students were successful in securing a Foundation Grant to cover the entire cost of their proposed renovation.

The final solution for Redwood Bark provides flexibility, layout space, and seating for everyone.

Student led design, student led solutions, and student led implementation make this project a tremendous success for everyone involved. Students at Redwood High will move into their new classroom in early 2016.