School unveils a ‘Learning Collaboratory’


The Baldwin school district revealed the newest study and learning space at Baldwin High School — the Learning Collaboratory — with a special event last week.

The district invited members of the media, the school community and elected officials to take part in the introduction of its “cutting edge” study and learning space, on the second floor of the high school, on Jan. 18.

The Collaboratory is a new state-of-the-art library and media center with contemporary furniture and a large, sun-lit space. District officials said that the school’s old library, which once housed stacks of books, had been transformed into an open environment where students can work together, learn collectively or study on their own.

The facility features five private glass-enclosed meeting spaces, where students and teachers can work on projects together, as well as rooms with video conferencing equipment.

To celebrate the Collaboratory’s opening, the district invited several students as well as Roger Tilles, a New York State Regents board member; Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé; PTA Council President Kimberly Bell; and Board of Education President Susan Cools to speak at the event.

Cools said that construction of the facility began early last summer, and was finished this month. Instead of using contractors, she said, the district’s buildings and grounds crew completed the majority of the construction, which saved the district millions of dollars.

The Collaboratory, Cools added, would serve as a place for students and staff to study, work on professional development or relax. Art displayed digitally on televisions on the walls will feature students’ work, she said.

“It’s like no other room I’ve ever seen,” Samaya Lindo-Smellie, a sophomore, said. “As a member of the Youth Leader Change Collaborative, we can use this room and its resources every week, and come together with my team to plan projects.”

Junior Jasmin Tiong-Smith said the Collaboratory would inspire students’ creativity and innovation, and prepare them for collaborative environments in their careers after school. She added that the space would encourage them to gather to share different ideas and perspectives, which would fuel high-level thinking.

District Superintendent Shari Camhi said that creating a space like the Collaboratory, and inviting young people to gather there, would help them create solutions to the world’s problems. The school district, Camhi added, would continue to advocate for changes and funding for the redesign of space in the high school, and support legislation that would encourage schools to design more spaces like the Collaboratory.

“Every year we don’t make changes to how we engage with young people in our schools is an opportunity lost,” Camhi said. “We are doing this by making changes in our school system.”