2020 made us think about school safety in a completely different way from before. As we move forward, how can we redefine what we mean by “safety,” and imagine new ways to create school environments, conditions, and cultures of true safety and well-being?
It’s not just physical safety measures, like masks and social distancing, that mark the pandemic as a turning point for school safety. Some experts believe that the main work of educators in 2021—and for the foreseeable future—will be trying to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and multiple big-picture social and cultural traumas on student achievement. In a landscape where trauma is an ongoing reality of American life for many members of our school communities, how do we envision forward-thinking systems that effectively treat emotional well-being as a core construct for teaching and learning? Celebrated architect Barry Svigals, who helped to reimagine and rebuild Sandy Hook Elementary School after the tragedy, joins us to share his philosophy on school safety. Also with us is Barry’s friend and colleague Sam Seidel, Stanford K12 Lab director of strategy and research.
In this episode, hosts Tim Fish and Lisa Kay Solomon invite Barry and Sam to share the foundations of the work they do to help communities reimagine school safety. Sam shares one of his moments of inspiration, revolving around a personal experience as a visitor during a school shooting drill that led him to question the purpose—and the hidden costs—of some of our common safety practices. Barry delves into the careful, compassionate, and surprising questions he asked school leaders at Sandy Hook when reimagining safety for their community. And both guests talk passionately about the importance of creating linkages between schools and their surrounding neighborhoods to help foster a sense of communal caring.
In addition, Barry and Sam share simple, actionable ideas for exercises schools can implement right away to help them improve well-being and belonging. From starting with love to designing for joy, this conversation about school safety is filled with unexpected approaches to a challenging topic.
Some of the key questions Tim and Lisa explore in this interview include:
In This Episode:
About Our Guests:
Artist, architect, musician, keynote speaker, and thought leader Barry Svigals is helping communities and organizations become more creative and collaborative, making places that express who they are. Trained as both an artist and an architect, he wove those two worlds together in the founding of an architecture+art firm that he led for more than 30 years. At the heart is his passion to challenge his own creativity as well as the creativity of others in service of what is needed in the world. A graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Architecture, Barry’s focus on community engagement as well as art enlivening architecture contributed to a long list of projects for diverse clients, among them major universities, corporations, and institutions. The firm’s best known project is the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, completed in 2016.
Sam Seidel thinks, writes, speaks, and designs learning experiences at the intersections of education, race, culture, and design. He is the director of K12 strategy and research at the Stanford d.school. Sam is also the author of Hip Hop Genius. He has taught in a variety of settings, from first grade to community college, and directed youth programs for young people affected by incarceration. He speaks nationally about education issues and writes for the Huffington Post, among other publications.
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