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K-12 School Offices The Front Door to Supportive Learning Environments - Part 2

July 28, 2022
Ample storage and accessible counter space give the updated Coleman High School reception area a welcoming atmosphere for students and visitors

Building Relationships and Creating Safe Spaces

Beyond supporting the logistical functions of a school, the office plays a significant role in supporting students’ health and safety. Here are some ways that offices can be nurturing environments that also foster positive relationships among students and school professionals.

Support Positive Student and Staff Relationships

“It’s important that the spaces we design support healthy relationships between students and trusted adults,” says Kate Egan, an architect and design specialist at Bray. “Building those strong connections with principals, guidance counselors, psychologists, and student services staff help make the school a safe place where kids know there are adults who care about them and have their best interest in mind.”

These relationships can positively impact students’ mental health and ultimately improve their classroom learning.

Students interact with a staff member in the office of Hillcrest Elementary School
Students interact with a staff member at Hillcrest Elementary School.

Reimagine the Visit to the Principal’s Office

Establishing those positive relationships also helps students if they are facing disciplinary action. The school office can be a protected place to learn how to appropriately handle conflict.

Students in this position benefit from calming and comfortable rooms that are out of the immediate view of their peers, but still allow for staff supervision. This helps students feel less isolated and ostracized, and it sets the stage for productive conversations about their behavior.

A view of the school office at Les Paul Middle School, including a large environmental branding graphic of the school mascot.
The main office at Les Paul Middle School is away from the immediate view of other students, which provides privacy for those who are facing disciplinary action.

Build for Safety and Security

Given the tragic reality of unwelcome visitors in our nation’s schools, any conversation about offices must include mention of secure entries. These vital systems, which usually include an intercom system, security cameras, and at least two layers of locked doors, help staff maintain control over who is allowed to enter the building

In addition to providing natural light, large office windows allow staff to monitor who is approaching the building, increasing their response time in the event of an emergency.

Students pass through the school's secure entry sequence
Secure entry sequences, like the one pictured above at Southern Door High School, play a critical role in the safety and security of students and staff.

Let’s Work Together

Are you considering a new or renovated school office as part of your next building project? We’d love to hear from you. As your trusted partner, we’ll work closely with you to find the most thoughtful and adaptable solutions that fit your timeline and budget.

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