BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has been dubbed the “classroom of the future,” but really it’s the classroom of the present.
The Baldwin School District has thoroughly modernized 20 classrooms in an attempt to provide what it feels is an atmosphere most conducive to learning.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff got a look at some of the classrooms on Thursday.
One high school class featured cafe-style work booths, soft lighting, outlets in the carpeted floor and rolling tables and chairs that can configure in an instant so small groups can morph into a roundtable.
Baldwin School Superintendent Dr. Shari Camhi told CBS2’s Gusoff the motivation behind the makeover is to get young people ready for life in the real world.
“We believe that learning is all about collaboration and conversation. How do you collaborate and converse when you’re looking at the back of another student’s head 40 minutes nine times a day?” Camhi said.
“The thinking behind it is we want to create students who can collaborate, who can problem solve, who can speak to each other, come up with solutions,” said Assistant High School Principal Jaclyn Guidice.
Students in a seventh grade social studies class kicked off their shoes, climbed on comfy lounges and rolled up to the “Genius Bar” to conference with their teacher.
Even the Baldwin kindergarten has classrooms of the future, with couches and comfy reading nooks.
“It makes school a lot better. It makes it feel like this is my job, not school, it feels like a job,” 10th grader Matt Cabrarro said.
Baldwin administrators toured Google headquarters to see what kind of workspaces best motive, to mirror the real world.
“They’re not coming into a classroom that was built in the 1970s anymore. We don’t live in the 1970s,” said Earth Science teacher Nick LaForgia. “We try to set up an atmosphere where they live and are going to live in the future.”
Camhi said so far the results have justified the cost of the makeover.
“It is improving learning outcomes. It is improving interest. Our kids are excited to come to school,” she said.
“Coming here, it’s mostly an improvement in our lives. I went from like a 82 average last year, and now with all these classrooms, technology, interactive, it gives me a 92,” sophomore Yaw Bonsu said.
Amazingly, the classroom conversion has been done on budget. CBS2 has learned none of the work has caused the district to exceed the tax cap. As a result, 25 more new-age classrooms are planned for the summer.
Now, Baldwin may be teacher other school districts what learning should look like. They’ve heard from school all over the country that are interested in taking a tour.