Today, we are living in a an era of a ‘new normal’ of uncertainty regarding our climate, economic growth, and, social justice. On both local and global stages, communities are now looking to their educational institutions to innovate in order to prepare intellectually, socially, and, emotionally competent citizens. Yet, for over a century and a half, schools have largely remained unchanged from their origins in 19th century factory models—where the school was once defined by bounded walls, and the students consumed facts and figures preparing to enter a once stable workforce.
Today, our society is asking how schools can become engaging and innovating learning spaces where students, families and the larger communities collaboratively embark on becoming problem-solvers and problem-seekers. And you need not look far, for Rio del Sol STEAM School is already here!
For the last 5 years, the Rio District and local and national community leaders have carefully planned the new school. Along perspectives from local educational, civic and business leaders, Rio del Sol’s origins is deeply informed by Native American Chumash culture and cosmology. RDS is physically located alongside the Santa Clara River; a place of natural wisdom and wonder. The ‘meander’ of the river has informed how we began to dream of RDS architectural design make it into being. The meander has also informed how the Learning Guides and students come to think of ourselves as participants of the Santa Clara River ecosystem. This place-based belonging and stewarding is culturally and philosophically relatable to native people’s relationships with their environments.