CALDWELL, NJ - Steelcase Education has awarded a grant valued at more than $50,000 to Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell for the installation of an active learning classroom through the Active Learning Center (ALC) program, a grant initiative launched in 2014.

Twelve schools and universities, including GCMS, were selected to receive grants from more than 540 applicants. Awardees were selected based on their unique approaches to active learning.

The ALC, which will be installed during the summer of 2015, will be used for an expansion of the Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) program at GCMS. The STEM program, initiated by GCMS principal James Brown in 2013, is currently housed in the former wood shop at the school. Custodians renovated the space, and Brown received grants from the Rotary Club of the Caldwells and the Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Foundation to purchase laptops and robotics equipment. The expansion will include renovation of the former metal shop room and includes the room design, furniture and equipment installation, and training of staff associated with the new space.

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“Caldwell – West Caldwell has shown its commitment to active learning strategies and student engagement in the classroom,” said General Manager of Steelcase Education Sean Corcorran. “With this new learning environment, Grover Cleveland Middle School will be able to utilize a flexible learning space that allows educators to explore the capabilities of an environment built specifically for improved engagement and collaboration.”

The ALC grant will enable the school to create a “Blended Learning Classroom” in the former metal shop adjacent to the existing STEM classroom. Each ALC grant covers the furniture, integrated technology, design, installation and post-occupancy evaluation for one of three classroom types designed for 28-32 students. Eligible classrooms must be in the United States and Canada, serving grades six-12 or within a college or university. Grants are valued between $35,000 and $50,000.

Representatives from DS&D, an interior solutions firm that focuses on fostering growth and productivity through creating great spaces at work, will work with Steelcase and GCMS to help design the classroom layout and select everything from wall colors to furniture options to room layout, and more.

“As a Steelcase Platinum Partner, we have the opportunity to provide innovative and insight-based furniture solutions that promote engagement for both students and faculty,” said DS&D Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Klier. “This grant is a great way for us to spread the word about the choices and options that can really make a difference when it comes to creating flexible and future-proof learning spaces.”

The Blended Learning classroom enables instructors and students to choose and control the best space for the activity at hand, morphing from lecture mode to independent or team work, to presentation, discussion and back again. Zones within the classroom allow students to work at their own pace with the instructor as a guide. As a result, the learning environment enables the instructor to move easily throughout the space to assess student understanding and guide continued skill mastery and application. 

In addition to receiving a new classroom, GCMS will receive training from Steelcase leaders on the uses of the technology and furniture in their new space and will have the opportunity to participate in a community of practice with all awarded schools to share insights and best practices. Over the two-year program, Steelcase will evaluate student and educator engagement in the newly designed space.

“We are genuinely excited to be a part of Grover Cleveland Middle School's Active Learning Classroom Grant experience,” said Laura Harrington and Maureen Tracy, DS&D account executives. “The energy that comes from contributing to a positive change for schools is contagious, and it is that energy that fuels our commitment to supporting the transition to 21st century learning environments. Learning should be fun and we are proud of our role in helping schools establish learning environments that students and faculty look forward to returning to day after day.”