Join us for a panel discussion to explore the critical role school environments play in supporting student wellbeing and mental health. At a time when many students are struggling with trauma, we will discuss the urgent need to design learning environments for healing as well as design strategies to support this. Our panelists are experts in education, design, and related fields. By sharing their experiences and insights, they will highlight current trends in student wellbeing, the role of both program and environment in supporting students holistically, the types of spaces students gravitate to for healing as well as design methodologies that empower students as advocates for their own mental health. The outcome will be an understanding of the current mental health challenges students face and how school design can be leveraged to support student and community wellbeing.
About the Speakers:
Arnaldo D. Cardona’s first Bachelors was a pre-professional degree in Architecture from the University of Puerto Rico. His Bachelors in Landscape Architecture and his Masters in Education were from City College of New York. He also holds a Masters in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. While in college Cardona integrated in his research the importance of how classroom settings may affect students’ outcomes and cognitive gains. Cardona became a fully licensed special education, bilingual and art teacher at NYC Public Schools and implemented programs in Architecture and Landscape Architecture while working as a teacher in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and as a staff developer and district coordinator in the Bronx. Cardona coached many other educators on how their classrooms may be conducive to learning and a less restrictive environment for students with diverse learning styles. At college level Cardona taught courses in special education at Lehman College and New Jersey City University and was a former facilitator at Boricua College. In all his courses the issue of classroom settings and how they affect students’ mental, behavioral and cognitive outcomes were addressed in his courses. Cardona is a retired schoolteacher and landscape architect. He has been an ASLA member since 2005. Currently he is a Teacher Supervisor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Art Education Department where he observes future teachers and reflects with them on how their teaching practices and the way they set their classrooms affect the behavioral and pedagogical outcomes of their students.
Claire Latané is Associate Professor and Chair of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. She works with community-led, nature-based, and evidence-based design strategies that support mental health and well-being, education, physical health, equity, and climate resilience. She founded and organizes the Collaborative for Healthy and Inclusive Learning Environments (CHILE) where she matches landscape architecture students with community partner schools and organizations to develop transformative, grant-ready design plans that nurture a sense of belonging, provide nature-filled places, and inspire awe. This model has inspired over $2.5 million in grant funds to transform schools. Her award-winning book, Schools that Heal: Design with Mental Health in Mind, highlights the research connecting access to nature to mental and physical health, translates the research into specific design strategies, provides communication and funding strategies, and shares school case studies to inspire and support designers, educators, school district administrators, students, and community members.
Christian Mariano is in his 7th year as the Assistant Principal for Student Life at Regis High School. In this role, he assists the Principal in overseeing student life activities (extra-curricular and co-curricular) and formation programs. A 1999 graduate of Regis, Mariano previously served as Principal at Corpus Christi School in Morningside Heights. Mariano earned his B.A. in Sociology with a minor in German at the College of the Holy Cross. He earned his Masters in Administration and Building Supervision from St. John’s University and is also a graduate of the University’s Curran Principal Academy. He also served as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant of English in Austria, taught English at Saint Joseph Hill Academy on Staten Island, and has been a special project staff member for the Archdiocese.
Kelli Peterman is the Director of Suicide Prevention Initiatives at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). She has over 15 years of experience implementing successful initiatives using population health and urban planning strategies, including Mental Health by Design, New York City’s first effort to improve the mental health of high school students though environmental design interventions. Peterman is launching several new Mayoral programs aimed to reduce suicide deaths and suicide-related behaviors among NYC youth, with a focus on youth of color. Peterman is a passionate advocate for using interdisciplinary and environmental strategies to understand and improve collective mental health. Peterman received her Masters in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute.
Arnaldo D. Cardona, Retired Landscape Architect, Artist, Licensed Teacher, and Author
Claire Latané, MLA, FASLA, SITES AP, Landscape Architecture Professor, California State Polytechnic University
Christian Mariano, Assistant Principal for Student Life, Regis High School
Kelli Peterman, Director of Suicide Prevention Initiatives, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene