Last night Michael McGavock was recognized by the A4LE Washington Chapter with this year’s Al Beck Award. Al Beck is considered to be one of the founding fathers of A4LE in the Pacific Northwest. This award is given to honor a Washington State A4LE member who exemplifies the principles of service that were so diligently represented by Al Beck’s contributions to the organization. Congratulations Michael on this truly deserved recognition!
Michael has dedicated over 30 years to supporting exceptional learning environments throughout western Washington, seeking out rewarding relationships with peers and educational providers along the way. Michael’s involvement with the Washington Chapter of the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) has been particularly rewarding. He has had an active role in A4LE for over 25 years, including serving for five years on the Washington Chapter board as an officer and President. He has learned a great deal, made great friends and has great memories to show for it.
Inspired by Michael’s commitment to Learning Environments, McGranahan Architects has followed his lead with participation in the A4LE Schools Next (formerly School of the Future) program, working with students at Tacoma’s Stewart Middle School for 3 years. Students are challenged to plan and design sustainable and resilient learning spaces that encourage innovation, critical thinking and collaboration. Stewart Middle School won the State competition in their third year!
During his leadership of the Chapter, Michael instituted new “behind the scenes” communication and accounting methods that are used to this day. The board and committees organize and develop the Chapter’s initiatives with Basecamp. Communication with members is conducted with MailChimp and the board watches our funds with online banking and proactive budgeting that began with his time on the board.
Michael’s involvement with A4LE has fed his passion for how learning environments serve individuals and society and has taken that inspiration into other areas of educational activism and involvement.
Michael has served on the board of Tacoma Public Schools’ Elements of Education, beginning in 2000, including two years as President. Elements is an organization that supports Tacoma Public Schools’ partner schools (SOTA, SAMi and iDEA) and offers enriched educational opportunities to students across the district. Through Michael’s engagement, we have had the opportunity to host several SOTA/SAMI student interns nearly every year since Elements’ Next Move internship program began. Luis Servin, a former intern from SAMi, was a particularly rewarding experience. He’s now studying architecture at WSU and returns to work with us on holiday breaks.
Michael recently completed his second term as President of Tacoma North Rotary Club. Each year the club provides dictionaries to every third grader in Tacoma, about 3,000 of them. Over the past four years with Michael’s guidance the club has provided one iPad for every two students and one for each teacher in each of Tacoma Public Schools’ 15 autism specialty classrooms. Now he is leading the club’s efforts to create a demonstration farm in Uganda. The first step of drilling two water wells will provide better hydration and hygiene for hundreds of families and lead to irrigation on the farm. The goal is to help families grow food more sustainably and consistently so their children can learn better because they aren’t going to school hungry. He is also active in the club’s new initiative to address homeless youth in Tacoma, a major hindrance to their education.
Michael is passionate about our mission to create inspiring learning environments, because he believes they can be transformational to individuals and society. He cultivates a spirit that we are doing something very important, that our work has lasting impact for good in the world. He has lead educational visioning, capital facilities planning, community engagement and design all over Western Washington for initiatives that have led to community support for more than $1.2 billion in school construction.
Michael believes that the collaboration among design professionals, supported by enlightened school district leaders, in the region contributes to the quality learning environments we create with our clients and their communities. To that end, Michael has encouraged the firm to participate in the annual A4LE awards program to share our work, and be inspired by the work of our colleagues. Our consistent recognition in A4LE awards, locally and internationally, is a testament to his passion for the organization as a way to improve learning environment design.