Schools In Focus Podcast

Schools in Focus

Schools In Focus is a podcast dedicated to the design, planning and management of educational facilities and campuses. Listen in as we chat with industry experts, facility managers, architects, security and safety professionals, and other thought leaders. Catch up on previous episodes below.

New Acoustical Solutions — From the Top Down


Increased understanding of and focus on acoustics in the classroom, coupled with heightened focus on speech privacy and information security in today's world, has placed additional burden on school administrators and facility managers. Acoustics isn't only about creating quite classrooms. It's a critical part of the overall IEQ of a school—from classrooms to nurses' offices to administration spaces. New and better technologies exist to give schools solutions that achieve what is needed in today's world while keeping budget parameters in mind. These acoustical solutions start at the top with ceilings, and not all ceilings are alike. Join us as Sean Browne, Senior Manager of Research & Development for Armstrong World Industries, walks us through choosing the right ceiling to optimize acoustics for better learning experiences.

Duration: 43 min

You Can’t Build Your Way to Net Zero


This episode’s guest is Lori Ferriss, architect with the Boston firm Goody Clancy and Chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment. We’ll discuss how colleges and universities can’t just build their way to net zero in the quest for carbon neutrality—it’s impossible to achieve carbon neutrality without reducing the operational emissions of existing buildings. Lori co-developed the CARE Tool and collaborated with Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, to complete a campus-scale study to calculate and compare the carbon impacts of reusing and upgrading buildings versus constructing new structures. We’ll also talk about how the CARE Tool and its use at Agnes Scott can provide a model for other institutions around the country that aspire to achieve carbon neutrality.

Duration: 23 min

Curating a School Security Plan, Staff, and Budget


This episode’s guest is Dustin Brooks, co-founder and chief customer officer of ZeroEyes. He’s here to talk about the importance of creating a school security plan against the backdrop of increasing active shooter and swatting incidents at schools around the country. We’ll also talk about the importance of a steadfast security staff and a reliable source of funding to keep existing security procedures and equipment in a state of readiness. Finally, we’ll address the paradox of the idea that if you do your job correctly, it doesn’t look like you’ve done anything at all.

Duration: 31 min

Designing a Kids' Kingdom


Our guest today is Hiroshi Okamoto, principal and co-founder of OLI Architecture. He's here to tell us about Anji Play, an early childhood education facility in the Zhejiang province of China. Anji Play uses a hands-off, play-based learning pedagogy that encourages kids to be kids and lets them explore the environment under their own initiative. The school's architecture and design supports the program's key aim of self-determined play and encourages its guiding principles of love, risk, joy, engagement, and reflection to create a true "Kids' Kingdom." The curriculum is currently being practiced in public early childhood programs in all of China's 34 provinces and administrative regions, and it has expanded to pilot programs in Europe, Africa, and the United States.

Duration: 40 min

Shedding Light on the Benefits of Daylight


Our guest today is Dr. Neall Digert, Vice President of Solatube International, Inc., who’s here to tell us about the benefits of daylight in education spaces. Neall has over thirty years of consulting and education experience working in the energy, lighting, daylighting design, and research fields, specializing in the design and application of advanced lighting and daylighting systems for commercial building applications. We’ll talk about the physiological and psychological effects of daylight; daylighting’s impact on student wellness and academic performance; the sustainability effects of daylight; its use as a disinfectant; and much more.

Duration: 28 min

How to Foster a Positive School Climate


On this episode of Schools in Focus, we’re talking with Dr. Kevin Mabie, Global Professional Instructor with the Crisis Prevention Institute. He’s here to talk about how a positive school climate can help K–12 leaders address, reduce and prevent bullying and violent behaviors. Among other topics, we’ll discuss what a positive school climate entails, its benefits for students and teachers, layout and design elements that foster a positive environment, and strategies that K–12 teachers can employ to stop bullying in its tracks. Sponsored by Crisis Prevention Institute.

Duration: 34 min

Bringing Learning to the Great Outdoors


Close your eyes and imagine an indoor classroom. We all see some variation of the same thing, right? Now, close your eyes and try to picture an outdoor classroom. Odds are, we're all imagining different things. Because there's no template for what an outdoor classroom is "supposed to" look like, the sky's the limit for how schools can incorporate outdoor learning and outdoor classrooms into their schools. On this episode of Schools in Focus, our guest is Brad Pittam, president of the International Play Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, or IPEMA. We’ll touch on topics like the recent rise in outdoor classrooms, the benefits that these spaces provide to students and teachers alike, the difference and overlap between outdoor classrooms and playgrounds, and design elements to be mindful of when implementing these spaces into your campus. This episode is sponsored by IPEMA.

Duration: 35 min

Beyond the Bare Minimum


In this episode of Schools in Focus, we’ll be talking about indoor air quality in schools. Our guests are Mike Wolf, Director of Regulatory Business Development, and Tyler Mancl, Principal Application Engineer, both with Greenheck. We’ll talk about how schools can ensure the air in their building is safe and how to verify the performance of their HVAC systems. We’ll cover the main aspects of indoor air quality—ventilation, humidification, and filtration—as well as how to make sure air is properly distributed in facilities. We’ll talk about how both existing schools and newly-built facilities can improve air quality while keeping operational costs down. And finally, we’ll discuss a $500-million grant program from the U.S. Department of Energy that helps schools pay for energy upgrade products. This episode is sponsored by Greenheck.

Duration: 44 min

Managing Schools and Classrooms to Promote Student Wellness


Our guest today is Bob Dillon, a school designer and consultant with STS Education. He's here to talk about the importance of student wellness during the learning day, from the time students arrive at the bus stop to the final bell. We'll cover all the different aspects of student wellness, as well as wellness rooms, the role of technology, staff wellness and professional development tracks, and the importance of choice in getting students to engage. This episode is sponsored by STS Education.

Duration: 24 min

Hacking the Senses to Maximize the Student Experience


Today's topic is "Hacking the Senses to Maximize the Student Experience," and my guests are Kim Montague, Executive Director - research and insights, and Kaelynn Reid, design futurist, both with Kimball International. They're here to talk about the design elements of multi-sensory environments that research and experience have shown to maximize student wellness. Sensory input in the classroom--everything from color to sound to scent, and even taste--can impact student experience and can play a role in memory retention, creative thinking and emotional intelligence. You'll learn how classroom designers can essentially "hack the senses" to usher in a desired psychological or physical outcome. This episode is sponsored by Kimball International.

Duration: 25 min

Creating Healthy Schools by Improving IEQ


Today’s guest is Kristin Moore, the Vice President of Market Segments at Armstrong World Industries. We'll talk about the importance of indoor environmental quality in creating and maintaining healthy learning spaces for kids. We'll cover initiatives like the Armstrong Healthy Spaces Ecosystem, the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, and the Lancet COVID-19 Commission. She'll also provide some suggestions on how schools can use ESSER funds to address environmental quality issues in schools before the funds expire. This episode is sponsored by Armstrong World Industries.

Duration: 24 min

See Something, Say Something


Our guest today is Jim Lee, the Enterprise Sales Director at Vector Solutions. He's worked with educational institutions ranging from small private schools to the largest districts in the country, helping organizations prevent incidents on campus through crowdsourced risk intelligence. Today, we'll discuss topics like common safety issues and concerns in schools, what to look for in an emergency communications system, and how these systems can help schools get ahead of issues to keep students, staff and facilities safe. We'll also talk about Alyssa's Law and a solution that helps schools meet its requirements.

Duration: 23 min

With the Press of a Button


Our guest today is Mark Berger, who’s the President and Chief Product Officer for Securitech Group, Inc. He’s here to discuss a school security solution that gives every student, teacher and staff member the agency to secure themselves in the event of an emergency with the press of a button. He’ll discuss its theory of operation and the installation process, as well as his own experience working with Sandy Hook Elementary School following the school shooting incident there in December 2012. This episode is sponsored by Securitech Group, Inc.

Duration: 26 min

Improve Building Health, Safety, and Security with Smart Sensor Technology


This episode's topic is "Improving Building Health, Safety and Security with Smart Sensor Technology," and our guest is Mike Davis, National Sales Manager for IPVideo. We'll talk about the different types of sensors and the variety of data they can collect, from physical to chemical to environmental to security. From there, we'll go into the limitless applications of what organizations can do with a "Swiss Army Knife" of sensors to keep building occupants safe and secure. This episode is sponsored by IPVideo.

Duration: 20 min

The Future of ID Card Issuance Technology


This episode's guests are Mike Mans, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Tiffany Renz, Sales Director - North America, both from HID Global. We'll talk about how schools can get the best bang for their buck with ID card and badge issuance technology. We'll cover topics like the best benefits of different technologies on the market today; ways to increase the longevity of physical ID cards and badges; and how to streamline the issuance process for these credentials. We'll also talk about the place of physical ID badges in a world of mobile credentials and smart access control. This episode is sponsored by HID Global.

Duration: 29 min

Simply Speak: Seamless Communication Within Schools


Our guest today is Magen McGahee, the CFO for Galaxy Next Generation, Inc. In this episode, Magen and I discuss the importance of seamless communication within schools. We’ll talk about how a range of Galaxy products like G2 Secure, G2 Visual Alerts and G2 Link make both emergency and non-emergency communication throughout a school facility as easy as the touch of a button. Learn how these products were built from user feedback and how they’re helping solve problems in the Ed Tech industry. You’ll also learn more about an emergency communication solution that can initiate a lockdown procedure and contact law enforcement in one fluid motion. This episode is sponsored by Galaxy Next Generation, Inc.

Duration: 25 min

UV Light and Creating Cleaner Learning Environments


Disinfection techniques that help make classrooms safe for students, teachers and staff are still top of mind. Here to discuss some of the benefits of ultraviolet light disinfection are Bruce Ramsay, Brand Manager for Visioneering, and Tim Stevens, Director of Product Management for Certolux. We’ll touch on some facts and myths about UV light, the role of UV light in maintaining clean education spaces, the challenges that education professionals should be aware of when purchasing UV light technology, and the technology’s benefits for end users in educational facilities. This episode of Schools in Focus is sponsored by Viscor, a Leviton company.

Duration: 23 min

Creating Worry-Free Environments in Education


This episode’s guests are Elizabeth Bonner, design director for education and hard surface, and David Dembowitz, senior vice president of sales North America, both with Mohawk Group. We’ll discuss choosing the right flooring solutions and the impact it can have on creating healthier, worry-free spaces throughout the lifecycle of the installation. We’ll touch on topics like creating productive spaces for students & staff, the impact of COVID-19 on cleanliness standards, choosing the right flooring solution, and how to navigate the flooring decision making process. This episode is sponsored by Mohawk Group.

Duration: 40 min

Creating More Dynamic Learning Environments


Today's guest is Sue Ann Highland. Currently, she's the National Education Strategist for School Specialty, but previously, she served as an educator for more than 25 years as a school and district administrator, a curriculum director, teacher, and more. She's here to talk about how dynamic learning environments can help keep students active and engaged. We'll talk about the six instructional elements that support dynamic learning, the positive and negative impacts of the pandemic, the increased reliance of both students and teachers on the digital landscape, and the general impact of learning environments on a student's educational journey. This episode is sponsored by School Specialty.

Duration: 40 min

The Future of the Physical Campus


This episode’s guest is Benjamin Strain, Higher Education Design Leader for DLR Group. He's here to discuss an ongoing DLR research initiative called "The Evolution of Campus," which involves interviews and outreach to higher education institutions to help them navigate the pandemic, return to campus, and explore new spatial and design requirements to meet the needs of faculty and students. He reveals some common themes among all three rounds of research (so far) and addresses the question on everyone's mind: "What’s the future of the physical campus?"

Duration: 34 min

Braving the Gauntlet


As K–12 schools gear up to return to in-person learning for the coming school year, one district already has a success under its belt. The Muskego-Norway School District in Muskego, Wis., successfully went in-person, five days a week, for the entire 2020–21 academic year. Our guest today is Tony Spence, the Chief Information Officer for that district. He takes a deep dive into explaining the logistics behind pulling off such a unique feat. He explains what went into creating the district’s plan, committing to it and—most importantly—effectively communicating that plan to students, parents, staff and administrators.

Duration: 45 min

Well, Now What?


Jonathan Matta, National Education Leader with KI Furniture, takes us through a bird's-eye view of lessons learned from the pandemic. We address topics like learning vs. education, why the term "learning loss" is a bit of a misnomer, re-imagining learning culture, the importance of flexible learning spaces, and how to give students agency in their own educational process. We also talk about how reflections of the shift in learning culture over the last decade can be found in everything from Star Wars to The Office. Sponsored by KI Furniture

Duration: 43 min

Flooring Design Solutions in the Era of COVID-19


Interior design plays a fundamental role in not only making education spaces functional, but also in creating a calm, soothing environment for students and faculty alike. Aesthetics—from color selection to layout—are crucial in helping schools re-emerge from the pandemic as safe spaces that promote emotional and psychological well-being.

Here to shed further light on the topic are David Dembowitz and Royce Epstein from the Mohawk Group, and Rebekah Matheny from the Ohio State University. Today’s episode is sponsored by Mohawk Group.

Duration: 49 min

Safe Air in Schools


Maintaining indoor air quality has gained renewed importance as K–12 students around the country prepare to return to in-person learning full time. It’s one of the timeliest, most important methods of keeping learning environments safe as the COVID pandemic winds down. And the more we learn, the more we refine and revise what we thought we knew. Our guest is Scott Huffmaster, the commercial HVAC leader for indoor air quality for North America for Trane Technologies, Inc. This episode is sponsored by Trane.

Duration: 32 min

Best Practices for ID Card Issuance


K–12 schools and colleges issue ID cards to students, faculty, staff, and sometimes even visitors to campus. The logistics of creating and printing these cards—especially Smart Cards with technical capabilities—are more complicated than you might think. Here to break down the process are Senior Product Marketing Manager Mike Mans and Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives David O’Driscoll, both with HID Global. Sponsored by HID Global.

Duration: 35 min