Henri Brooks works for Atkin Olshin Schade Architects and has volunteered with ADE since 2021. Over the past semesters, he has been in multiple classes at Alexander Adaire School and William D. Kelley School. His reason behind volunteering is so design thinking can be in the vocabulary of more students across Philadelphia. ADE is grateful to have volunteers like Henri that return year after year to make a difference in design education.
Q: Why did you choose to start volunteering in the classroom?
A: "An old coworker introduced me to the program. In my younger years, I spent summers teaching elementary-level kids guitar and how to play in a band at a summer camp. I have always enjoyed working with children and finding the nugget of what makes them excited about a certain topic."
Q: What have been some of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering?
A: "When you know you have reached a student, and they are excited about the content- it is one of the best feelings. I also really enjoyed how I rediscovered a simple love for architecture and design by breaking the content down to a level that a 5th or 6th grader could connect with it. It was fun to think about how architecture and design connect to everyone's life – even those who are not looking for it. Taking the time to be more conscious about those things at a base level was very rewarding."
Q: How did volunteering in this program assist you in your management and presentation styles in your career?
A: "I am still developing those skills but have learned that students would easily get bored or distracted with text-heavy presentation slides. It was a fun challenge to use almost entirely images and rely on a narrative thread for the lesson to guide us through the class."
Q: What advice would you give someone interested in volunteering in the ADE program?
A: "Find what you love about design and architecture, and use that as a touchstone for your future lessons. Teaching from a place of enjoyment and passion rather than obligation is more rewarding and productive. Students respond to enthusiasm, not necessarily content. Also, patience is key!"
Q: How do you feel that goal has personally affected your life or career?
A: "I hope as younger generations enter the field of architecture and design, workplaces become much more diverse with folks of different cultural and economic backgrounds, helping create an array of perspectives and understandings of the needs of their communities. The architecture industry has made strides in this but can continue to grow and evolve into something more equitable and accessible. ADE seems to be aiming to change that – I'm just happy to be able to participate in the process!"
Interested in volunteering with CFAD's Architecture and Design Education program? Please reach out to Michael Spain (email@example.com), Liza Niles (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Carly Clifford (email@example.com) for more information.