Building Bridges: Creating Transitional Learning Environments for Students to Young Adults

AIA Continuing Education Provider

1 LU

The Bridges Adult Transition Center is an innovative new facility that cultivates a forward-thinking instructional model for students with special needs. The new facility supports young adults, ages 18-21, in transitioning from high school to adulthood through innovative design and pedagogies with a focus on personal skills, vocational training, and community-based instruction. The Center’s design incorporates immersive experiential labs, such as Kitchen and Apartment Labs, to provide students real-world applications and education. Insights from both district administration and architects will highlight this often-overlooked student population and the specialized learning environments of the Bridges Center.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the importance of young adult transitional services for students with special needs.
  2. Discover how community partnerships can expand learning opportunities beyond a traditional school environment.
  3. Explore how specialized learning environments and pedagogies can cultivate student growth and success.
  4. Learn about an innovative educational facility for students aged 18-21 with special needs.
Pat Callahan
Pat Callahan, AIA, ALEP, LEED-AP
Senior Principal, StudioGC,

Throughout Pat’s career and as a founding principal of StudioGC, he has concentrated his efforts on the planning and design of educational facilities. His personal involvement with schools includes the development of educational specifications, planning, program development and design. Pat’s professional experience and personal interest in the educational field have provided him with the unique ability to recognize the needs and concerns of high school students, faculty and administrators, and translate those needs into successful design solutions.

Athi Toufexis
Athi Toufexis, AIA, ALEP, LEED-AP
Principal, StudioGC,

Athi specializes in designing engaging educational environments for learners of all abilities. She supports school districts and communities in transforming their visions into inspiring built realities through collaborative planning, design, and implementation. As one of StudioGC’s preK-12 Practice Leaders, Athi strives to create future-ready solutions to better prepare students for the ever-evolving world of tomorrow.

Bridget Connolly
Bridget Connolly
Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Student Services, Niles Township High School District 219,

Bridget is an Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services for Niles Township High School District 219. She is in her 21st year of public education with previous roles as an Assistant Principal, Director of Special Education, and School Psychologist. Bridget's most recent project involved collaborating with a project team on designing an innovative learning space for young adults with special needs at the Bridges Adult Transition Center.

Kate Seiwert
Kate Seiwert
Director of Transition Services, Niles Township High School District 219

Kate is the Director of Transition Services for Niles THSD 219. She is in her 15th year in public education and her 5th with Niles THSD 219. Kate's career path was determined by a lifetime need to help others, especially students in high school. Special education became the natural next step, fostered by a love of transition and adult services. Her passion was instrumental throughout the planning process for the new Bridges Adult Transition Center.

Track: The Experience of Place

The built and natural environments have profound impacts on our behaviors both for better and worse. How do we cultivate a sense of place for better? How might the built and natural environments be made to enhance teaching and learning? How might school buildings and grounds foster a sense of community by reflecting those they serve?

Primary Core Competency
Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner. 

learningSCAPES 2022

October 5-9
Marriott Rivercenter | San Antonio, TX

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