Revolutionary Design Core program takes freshman education to next level


Photo by Holly Goodman from Tualatin Life.

Lucy Lyons, Opinion Editor

Tualatin High School has recently taken learning to a new level with the introduction of Design Core, a program designed to engage students in creative and collaborative projects while also providing foundational academic skills. Developed by TuHS teachers Becky Beeler, Dan Rott and Andrew Bonica, the program is a departure from the traditional classroom setting and is already creating a significant impact on student engagement and learning.

The program starts each day with a series of creative and collaborative challenges in the lecture hall, with all 70 students and three teachers, creating a strong sense of community and collaboration. After that, students spend an hour rotating through individual classes.

According to Bonica, Design Core has been a huge success, with students more engaged and motivated to learn than ever before. 

“I have been thrilled with the growth and development that I have seen in the students in Design Core,” he said. “In the past few years, I was really burned out by trying to hold my students’ mental and physical attention against cell phones and the general desire to disconnect. I am excited to come to school each day to work with my fellow teachers and students in community.”

Students have the choice of which projects they work on, such as designing birdhouses, building mini-golf courses from recycled materials and cooking up new designs for mac and cheese. They’ve also experienced field trips to local parks and food cart pods. The program also provides real-world skills such as communication, collaboration, responsibility and problem-solving. 

“Overall, we feel like students are getting all of the traditional academic skills but also really enjoying the chance to have fun being creative together,” Bonica said.

Teaching in a team of three has also changed the way teachers approach their work, fostering a collaborative and supportive atmosphere for both students and teachers. The program is always evolving, with the teachers seeking feedback from students and continuously improving the program based on best practices.

As teachers, we view ourselves more as ‘Creative Coaches’ who work beside our students as they engage in creative work. We feel like we are a team.”

Next semester, students will be exploring the theme of water and its impact on the environment and the world. They will be working to enhance the experience at Brown’s Ferry Park in Tualatin, using their knowledge of ecosystems, justice and history to create real-world projects that will benefit their community.

Design Core is revolutionizing the way students learn and teachers teach at Tualatin High School. With its focus on creativity, collaboration and real-world skills, it is providing students with a unique and engaging learning experience that they will never forget.