Insight and Wonder Part II: Staff Perspectives

Insight and Wonder Part II: Staff Perspectives

This is the second post in a series about the community engagement phase of our campus development process. Read our first post here. In addition to uniting our 450 students and 50 staff currently split between two rented facilities, our future campus will be a physical manifestation of our philosophy and a replicable model for the district and beyond: a renewable energy-generating campus with onsite water reclamation and an urban farm. This campus will be the first of its kind in the region and is being designed with replicability in mind — we have challenged our design team to design a building that can be replicated at a cost/sq foot that is equivalent to public school construction in our city.

In order to create a building that reflects and enhances our school culture and curriculum, our design team first needed to develop a strong understanding of our culture and curriculum. As part of the intensive “Insight Week,” our design team conducted individual interviews with nearly every staff member and hosted a design workshop to help them understand our culture, traditions, and collaborative style.

“The people behind AGC are what makes it the place it is. So we spent time on both campuses exploring ways teachers and students could make an even more positive impact on the world.”

– Trung Le, Co-Founder of Wonder, By Design

During in-person interviews, the design team asked team members to explain what had brought them to this work and to this school, and what makes this school so special. Here are just a few moments from those interviews.

Danny Wright, Maintenance Manager, AGC Orca Since 2009.

“If you don’t love the kids, you don’t belong here,” says Maintenance Manager Danny Wright.
Danny is the sole maintenance professional in our K-2 building, but he is also our carpenter, our traffic coordinator, camping trip leader, Mr. fix-it, and the leader of our most popular after-school club, “Cool Tools.” The K-2nd grade Cool Tool class built this bench after watching a news piece on “friendship benches.”
“I’ve seen kids at the end of the school year kiss the door. When I was a kid you had to drag me in to school, but these kids come running in.” Danny opens the doors every morning at 7:45 and high-fives every student that rushes in to greet the day.  The love Danny shows our students and spaces is reflected in their own love and caring for the school.

Berenice Salas Rangel, School Culture Coordinator, AGC Orca Since 2010


“Parents are super flexible about spaces. I will like to provide childcare; and to have a parent room… to truly establish more community with themselves.” Berenice Salas, AGC’s School Culture Coordinator.



Berenice is an AGC parent herself, and was a classroom teacher for many years before moving into our School Culture Coordinator role. Berenice still teaches an 8th grade class on top of her regular duties and is in school pursuing her Principal’s license. Berenice and her family also live in the area, making her what Hollywood might call a “quadruple threat:” a local, a parent, a teacher and a leader. 




Julia O’Grady, Kitchen Manager, AGC Orca Since 2008

“I have to see their eyes, really see their eyes. Or how can I make sure they eat well and feel loved?” In this photo, Julia is interviewed by Christian Long of Wonder, By Design. Christian is a designer and educator.



Love is truly a key ingredient in AGC’s meals. Julia and her team are a warm and loving presence in our school, and contributes to 100% participation in our food program. How will our future campus create more connections between those that prepare and consume our food? Our current kitchen is a converted hallway, with no windows to the outdoors or into learning spaces.







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