Next Generation Learning Academy in Santa Rosa wins a Business Journal Top Real Estate Project Award

The Next Generation Learning Academy at 1500 Farmers Lane, with capacity for up to 250 students, is an untraditional high school that focuses on offering a more individualized education. (Photo/Gary Quackenbush).

GARY QUACKENBUSH,

In September, a new private high school operated by Project Opportunity opened its doors in Santa Rosa at 1500 Farmer’s Lane.

The Next Generation Learning (NGL) Academy is challenging the norms of traditional high school learning concepts and environments while striving to give students a more individualized education to help prepare them for today’s ever-changing post-secondary world.

One of the hallmarks of this school, which as an eventual capacity of 250 students, is that it does not use traditional classrooms.

Designed by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) and built by GCCI, Inc., the 6,000 square foot campus involved the complete renovation of a former AAA office building in the Bennett Valley area.

QKA was retained because of its reputation for delivering adaptable and forward-thinking 21st century learning environments. The architect was awarded the contract in 2016 and reconstruction of the facility started in June 2017 on a fast-track to complete the project in time for the fall semester.

The school’s goal is to give students flexible, personal and engaging options for secondary learning not based on a lecture format and content memorization, but rather fosters the skills and interests of each individual through various types of learning methods, including student-driven exploration.

Instructors are referred to as mentors, and class sizes are very small, never exceeding a 12 to 1 ratio.

QKA created a variety of interconnected learning spaces that are able to facilitate different activities and student preferences. Seminar and conference rooms of various sizes accommodate activities requiring more privacy and focus.

Technology and flexible furniture are used to support changing needs and growth related to student capacity, curriculum and programs.

According to NGL Director Karen Kenkel, “We were delighted to work with a Santa Rosa-based QKA to design a campus exactly suited to our education needs and philosophy. From our ‘smart’ spaces and cutting-edge learning technology and our café for collaborative learning, to our reading room for quiet reflection and our Makerspace for creative modeling and applied problem-solving, our campus will be ideally suited to support multiple student growth paths.”