Designing an Inclusive School: Lessons from Winooski

Winooski Schools' high school hub

The Winooski School is a Pre-K thru 12 facility serving one of the most diverse communities in Vermont. To create an engaging, inclusive, and equitable learning environment, the project team designed an inclusive process that invited input from a wide variety of stakeholders. It started with establishing guiding principles that embodied community DEI values. During the process, the project team was sensitized to many DEI concerns and learned many lessons.

In this 60 minute video recorded in February, Sean McMannon of the Winooski School District and David Epstein of TruexCullins share some important lessons from this process.  In this presentation, Sean and David discuss how a DEI lens was integrated into the design process, some important factors that were considered, and how specific design solutions addressed these concerns.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about the value of an inclusive process in creating a welcoming facility for all stakeholders.
  2. Learn how meeting facilitation techniques can help with participation from historically marginalized groups.
  3. Learn how safety and security initiatives impact different groups.
  4. Learn how community and a sense of belonging can be fostered through architectural design.
  5. Learn from your peers about challenges and successes they have experienced in making their facilities
    more inclusive.

About the Speakers:

Sean McMannon, Superintendent, Winooski Schools

Sean McMannon became the Superintendent of Winooski Schools in July 2013. Prior to this, he was at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) in Hinesburg for 12 years. During his tenure at CVU he served as Principal for eight years, Fairbanks House Director for three years, and a Special Educator for one year. Sean has also served on the boards of Linking Learning to Life (now called Navicate), the New England Association of Schools & Colleges Commission on Public Secondary Schools, and the United Way Chittenden County Cabinet.

In 2010 he received the Robert F. Pierce Secondary Principal of the Year Award. Prior to coming to Vermont, he taught special education in California, Alaska, and Massachusetts. In addition, he was a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Botswana. He is a 1991 graduate of Penn State with a B.S. in Business Logistics, 1996 graduate of Lesley College with an M.Ed., and a 2012 graduate of the Snelling Center’s Vermont School Leadership Project.


David Epstein, AIA, Managing Principal, TruexCullins

David Epstein is the Managing Principal at TruexCullins, an Architecture and Interior Design firm of 36 people located in Burlington, Vermont.

David is the Past Board Chair of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, a business association whose mission is to leverage the power of business for positive social and environmental impact. Epstein is also a former President of AIA Vermont, and a former Vermont Food Bank board member.

In addition to his duties as Managing Principal, Epstein leads the K-12 Education design studio at TruexCullins, including their work on schools in Vermont and overseas.




Recorded Thursday, February 2, 2023. Presented in collaboration with Vermont Principals Association and Vermont Superintendents Association.