A District’s Journey in Project-Based Learning


North Tower - 2nd Floor - Harbor

  • Primary Core Competencies: Educational Visioning
  • AIA CEU: 1. 0 LU
  • Secondary Core Competencies: Design of Educational Facilities


How do you shape a vision for Project-Based Learning while simultaneously implementing it? This was the situation that Camas School District was in while taking steps to alleviate overcrowding through personalized, relevant learning. Located in a one-high school town in an urban suburb with high expectations for quality education, the District embarked on a path that would involve a new pedagogical model focused solely on project-based learning at the secondary level. This journey, in creating one the nation’s first ground-up project-based learning high schools, will be shared from the District perspective (including the student voice), and the architecture and planning firm who supported the District throughout the process. The response of the community, challenges of implanting new curriculum, and tips for other districts considering a shift will be shared in this insightful session. Initial results of this project-based pedagogy will be shared from the high school’s first full year of school in a new facility, as well as the middle school’s third year in a non-traditional facility adapted by a modest renovation.

Learning Objectives

OBJ #1  Hearing a case study that embodies a district-wide exploration in pedagogy, attendees will be able to identify the steps it takes to shift learning and develop an implementation strategy.

OBJ #2  Attendees will discover what level of community buy-in and participation is recommended to take a District in a new pedagogical direction, and how to anticipate potential pitfalls.

OBJ #3  With examples shown in both new and existing facilities, attendees will be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of providing a project-based learning environment in a new facility, as opposed to one that is renovated/existing.

OBJ #4  Understanding that programmatic elements can shift, and future-ready design is crucial in the current age, attendees will be able to differentiate between a modern “traditional” school and a modern “project-based learning” school.

Karen Montovino, AIA, ALEP, Principal, DLR Group

Tim Ganey, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP, Architect and Senior Designer, Principal, DLR Group

Jeff Snell, Ed.D., Superintendent, Camas School District

Aaron Smith, Principal, Discovery High School & Odyssey Middle School, Camas School District