Lakota teen helps district officials re-design learning space

Few freshman students anywhere get to see a class project turn into the quick reality of a new study area in their schools, but local teen Lora Broz knows how it feels.

The Lakota West Freshman School student recently saw her design recommendations, which included her making a presentation to a district committee and school board members, incorporated into her school’s new “innovation hub.”

The new hubs, which this school year involve redesigning all of Lakota’s secondary schools media centers, are part of district-wide upgrade that will stretch into next school year when elementary schools get their innovation hubs.

But thanks to Broz, her school’s former media center is now a brightly colored, green and blue space for students to work individually or in groups.

And most of its furniture, chairs, desks, computer stations are now mobile with wheels to allow easy, quick re-configuration for paired or team projects.

“I love coming in here now,” said Broz as she looked over the new learning space.

“I feel more involved and like I have more opportunity to create things because of all the cool things we have in this space now and it’s not just a regular library. You are not coming here to study, you are here to create something,” she said.

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The teen said she was “overwhelmed” by school officials involving her in the redesign process.

“I was surprised to be able to put my ideas into action,” Broz said.

She picked green paint for some walls because she learned through her studies the color promotes relaxation.

Broz chose blue for other walls because “it makes you think outside of the box.”

Krista Heidenreich, director of digital and professional learning for Lakota Schools, said was happy to have the teen’s help.

The innovation hubs meld into Lakota’s recent and historic experiment of giving Chromebook laptops to all secondary school students, said Heidenreich.

The mobile learning devices allow students to take and share their work in group projects from classrooms to their schools’ new, spacious innovation hubs.

“Things they are learning in class, they can take it here and take it a step further and spend more time working with their peers,” said Heidenreich.

Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota Schools, said the switching of school media centers into learning hubs rarely involves major, structural re-construction and is paid for from the district’s permanent improvement fund.

“We did the freshman schools and high schools over winter break,” said Fuller.

With the new, portable Chromebooks students in the hubs “have access to research and information at their fingertips now.”

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