Imagine, if you will, a place where students learning how to become teachers could work with avatars, to simulate real-life teaching challenges.
Sound far-fetched and futuristic?
Well, that’s exactly the scenario that will begin playing out when a new $14 million academic building on the campus of Saint Leo University is completed.
The avatars are actually created by actors in a program developed by the University of Central Florida. The avatars are used to help prepare teachers for situations that may arise in classrooms, said Maribeth Durst, vice president of academic affairs at Saint Leo University.
It’s a great way to practice dealing with situations in an entirely safe environment, Durst noted.
And, that’s just one example of the new ways the university believes its new academic building will broaden opportunities for its students to prepare for their professional lives.
The university had a celebration May 2 to mark the official groundbreaking on the four-story, 48,000-square-foot building. It will have 16 classrooms and 24 faculty offices.
The larger quarters will house liberal arts, education, criminal justice and social work classes, as well as graduate-level classes for continuing professional education. It was designed to foster greater opportunities for students to work together and mingle, Durst said. For instance, instead of long, narrow corridors that tend to separate people, there are gathering spaces to bring them together.
Some highlights include an area to allow simulations of classroom situations and a 21st century classroom for kindergarten through 12th grade education students and others to use.
The fourth floor of the building will be a shell, initially, until there’s a need to build it out.
Creative Contractors Inc., is constructing the structure, with an expected completion date of July 2015. Gould Evans of Tampa is the building’s architect.
Beverly Frank, the project architect, said the design seeks to embody Saint Leo’s core values of excellence, community, respect, personal development, responsible stewardship and integrity.
“The culture at Saint Leo is very inspirational,” Frank said.
The entire design, from how the building was sited to its color palette, drew on the university’s desire to create a welcoming environment, and to create a sense of connection. That connection applies both to people within the building and to the building’s relationship with other places on campus.
The building uses energy-efficient systems and follows the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council, Frank said.
Saint Leo University is a regionally accredited, liberal arts institution at 33701 State Road 52 in St. Leo.
Published May 14, 2014
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