Design39Campus Office“Design39Campus”, simple and effective, but still different from all its counterparts. While schools in the Poway district are usually named by location, this school chooses a new naming convention which begins a journey of verbal choices throughout the school. Out of a mix of creativity, function and tradition comes a campus that’s re-writing the rules. So many individuals that talk about Design39Campus (D39C) inquire about the vocabulary used at the school.  Parents either love or hate it.  In the spirit of re-doing the way we do education, it is no surprise that D39C is teaching by example through changing the vocabulary we use to speak about the school experience.


With stogy academic words such as recess, study hall and principal that are related with routine, stress and discipline, it’s no wonder Design39Campus had to do a complete rehaul on how this new concept was talked about. Prominent neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman’s book “Words Change your Brain” describe how “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress”. Thus the words we use come to represent entire experiences, not just a descriptions of the experiences.  If the words we use effect our feelings, then changing common school vocabulary, in essence, creates a new school culture.



  • Teacher
  • Learning Experience Designer (“LED”)
  • Office
  • Welcome Center
  • Student Center
  • Gallery
  • Yard Duty
  • Motion Manager
  • P.E.
  • Minds in Motion (MIM)
  • Library
  • Loft
  • Nurse’s Office
  • Wellness Center
  • Multipurpose Room
  • Showcase


The-MakeryDesign Studio:  Teacher collaboration spaces in the classroom buildings Collaboratory:  A classroom space with four walls designated as a space where students can prototype designs, reverse engineer technologies, design and build products and technology, create and fabricate. Makery:  A flexible learning space in the classroom buildings with less than four walls that can be used by small to large groups with polished concrete floors, soft furniture, and lots of natural lighting. Some other fun words we’ve heard lately: Deep Dive, Up-Up & Away, wires, pliers, & more, tinkering.



Couldn’t they have kept some of the words the same? Yes. Would it be as effective? No. By Gestalt’s Principles of similarity and proximity, a new culture is being created. Guided by adults, the children go through creation processes which offer experiences that inspire and challenge traditional definitions. They are designing an experience that will enable children to develop their truth based on the language we used to describe and define our world. Ultimately we change the world by changing definitions of visuals via language.​ “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

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