Interview with Mr. Ken Sell, Head of School about Aoba Komagome Campus

Interview with Mr. Ken Sell, Head of School about Aoba Komagome Campus

Due to continuous student growth over the past five years, Aoba-Japan International School (“Aoba”) has outgrown its Hikarigaoka campus. Aoba wishes all students to continue their studies and has decided to relocate the upper secondary school (grades 10-12) to the Bunkyo Gakuin University Girls’ Junior and Senior High School building.

The edu JUMP! talked to Mr. Ken Sell, Aoba’s Group Head of School, about the newly opened Aoba Senior School Campus at Kogagome.

Photo: Mr. Ken Sell, Group Head of School

What is important to us in designing the campus

The Senior School campus rents four floors of the Bunkyo Gakuin University Girls’ Junior and Senior High School to accommodate approximately 140 students in the upper third grade (grades 10-12).

In developing the concept for the campus, we researched leading examples from around the world, including Australian universities, Oxford University Business School, and international schools in Singapore.

Ultimately, we decided that our design concept for the campus would be to create a space that reflects the transition from upper secondary school to university and business. Therefore, instead of standard box-in classrooms, we tried to combine multipurpose rooms, meeting rooms, spacious areas for students to work with each other, and lounges.

●Classrooms: The classrooms are not arranged in a front-facing layout, but are arranged in a way that is suitable for project-based learning.
● Corridor: Meeting space inside a spacious, streamlined wall

In other words, we created a learning space that mirrors the students’ future, not where they came from but where they are going. We combined open and closed spaces where students work in teams to design innovative solutions to global problems collaboratively. The spaces are designed so all students can use digital technology effectively. The campus combines the feel of a modern corporate office with spaces that support learning in the applied sciences and engineering, the arts and entrepreneurship and business. 

● Hallway: There is lighting and a device that makes it look like natural light.

There is a seminar room adjoining the cafeteria. A digital screen is set up in the center of the space so no matter where people are seated they can clearly see what is presented in front of them.

In this new campus, the combination of large and small spaces separated by glass walls support differentiated learning to happen. We designed the building so that the students and teachers can see where everyone is and what they are doing.

The campus is very functional and does not look like a normal school once you enter.

When we heard feedback from students, parents and teachers about the facilities, we realized how impressive the new campus is to them. In particular, teachers commented on how well the space is organized and how flexible it is.

We have a purpose built exhibition room that allows our students to display digital presentations.  With nine connected digital monitors creating one large screen allows the students to create videos where images scan move from one end of the room to the other. In addition, this room allows for physical artifacts to be displayed.

This new campus features a mix of open space and small working areas. New schools are being built in Tokyo, but we can proudly say that our Senior School’s unique design provides an environment more suited to what students will experience in the future.

●VR Room: Students will create virtual reality programs and experiences.

In addition, since many students at Aoba are interested in the performing arts, a special room was created in response to student requests. In this theater, a state-of-the-art sound system is wound around the ceiling, spreading sound and lighting the stage. About 50 students use this room to practice dances and performances.

●Theater: Flexible seating and space

Hybrid learning environment

Our school is modern not only in its facilities but also in its teaching methods. Because we employ a hybrid blended learning approach. Teachers and students are trusted to work work and learn in school or at home. Even before COVID19, Aoba embarked on a Blended Learning project with the future in mind. The senior school exemplifies the Blended Learning approach to build the skills needed to be successful at a modern university or professional workplace.  

For example, we have a teacher who is unable to work at the school. The teacher delivers online lessons remotely to students who are at school or at home. Our internal research shows that student achievement has not changed using this flexible approach to online or in-person learning, 

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