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Facilitating
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placeholder September 18, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic High School Information Guide

The Learning Center provides students services outside of the classroom, like make-up and extended test taking or tutoring.
COURTESY BROTHER LAWRENCE HALEY, FSC AND DE LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL

Facilitating life-long learning:
De La Salle's new Learning Center

After five years of planning and a swift ten weeks of demolition and construction, the De La Salle Learning Center opened this past August. A state-of-the art room comprised of three conference rooms, office space, a quiet room, and 20 carousel stations, the Learning Center is an area where students will be able to focus on their studies and, as the name suggests, to learn.

"The biggest thing that excites me about the Learning Center itself is the atmosphere it creates with life-long learning," says Jon Norfolk, the newly hired Learning Center Coordinator. "It's really amazing to see students go through that learning process from their freshmen to senior year and learn not only academic skills but life skills, as well." Norfolk will be in charge of managing the space — from overseeing conference room reservations for faculty and staff to coordinating with tutors and providing a structured testing environment for the students.

The Learning Center has not been open for very long, but already it has made a big impact on students. "It's amazing what a new space — whatever it might be — does to your confidence. You see the new furniture, you see the offices, and you look around and everyone is working because they have the proper resources they need to focus and to do well. When students walk through the door, they know that it's time to work. They can see that people have made a significant investment in them," observed Norfolk.

For Sean Bristol, the Learning Needs and Spartan Success Coordinator, this Learning Center is the culmination of many years of research and planning. "It couldn't have turned out any better. You have a vision and have no idea how it might turn out," said Bristol. "The things we thought were most important and that we really wanted, like the conference rooms, we have now. It's incredible." For him and Greg MacArthur, the Bishop Cummins Program Coordinator, the impetus was really about finding space.

With more and more students needing special services outside of the classroom — whether it's make-up test taking, extended test taking, or tutoring, for example — small classrooms or "one-size-fits-all" rooms just weren't working. "Greg might have 50 students in one half of the classroom for study hall, and I would have 12 students on the other half trying to take a test — not the best environment for any of those students." With more classrooms being built in the STREAM Innovation Center, the two of them realized that there might be an opportunity to move out of their tight quarters. And so, they put together a proposal that asked the school to convert some of those old lab rooms in the 400-wing to a dedicated learning space for students.

The school agreed. "We started looking at schools throughout the Oakland Diocese and the South Bay, such as Bishop O'Dowd, Serra, and Bellarmine. More and more high schools are realizing that they need designated space for testing and after school tutoring," Bristol explained. He, too, has enjoyed seeing the students' reactions to this new space. "I told the students that, as we built this space, we made sure to keep them in mind and make sure we considered what they might need. It's humbling for them to walk in now and to know that it was designed and built for them to succeed."

(From the De La Salle Union magazine, with permission.)

 
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