I've been teaching at the same elementary school since 2004. Needless to say, when the 2014 school year rolled around, I felt the need to do something extraordinary to celebrate my decade at said school.
I researched the cost of a portrait of me to be muraled in the entryway, but it was slightly out of my pencils and erasers budget. (Forget about re-naming the school. You DON'T want to know.)
Okay, on to the REAL story. The real story is that last year I joined the "Climate Committee" at my school. Mostly because I had no idea what it did, but the alliterative title was appealing.
Turns out, the Climate Committee meets to talk about school-appearance/climate-y things and one such topic of consideration was the faculty lounge.
Allow me to introduce Exhibit A: The Faculty Lounge
1) Massive, rectangular, cement walled space.
2) Windows? Natural light? Oh, heavens no!
3) Is that natural flora I see in the corner? Nope. Fake tree.
4) Copier machines placed strategically next to eating area so teachers can be lulled by the sound of 200 copies of "Lesson 14: Area and Perimeter of Triangles" being copied. WIRRR WIRRR WIRRR!!!! ahhhh.....
5) Sterile, hospital-like flooring
6) Uhh.......not much else to notice. Period.
So, to quote the most annoying phrase ever...."it was what it was." Not very appealing to be in. Not very inviting to stay in and enjoy conversation. Meh.
Now....here's where a seat on the glamorous Climate Committee comes in!!! Our school's parent organization is very involved in our school. They raise money constantly through various ways to bring money back into the school for the students and teachers. This year, they generously offered to help spruce up the faculty lounge and we happily accepted.
The words, "Who would like to help organize this....." could barely come out of my principal's mouth before I lunged across the table, waving my hand in the air and sputtering out phrases involving "Pinterest" and "So many ideas!!!" Thus....my pet project was born.
After collecting suggestions from my fellow colleagues, I had a burning party of their suggestions and did whatever the hell I wanted.
The suggestions/ideas that were most frequently put into my little anal-retentively labeled "Suggestion Envelope" were:
- calming wall colors
- Keurig/coffee machine
- separate the work/copiers from the eating area
Done and done! With my generous budget in hand, I started a Pinterest board of ideas and shopped around for the best deals so I could make the money stretch.
On one particular day of insanity, I drove to IKEA and loaded up a shopping cart and two warehouse carts of furniture and storage. Drove it all back in my Chevy Equinox to save on shipping! Not a great idea woman-power wise, however I got a TON of stuff for not a lot of dough.
From there, I had help from our building's maintenance man painting the room. He had help from my son, who enjoyed moving his tools around when he wasn't looking.
And then the layout was mine for the designing. I wanted to divide up the giant rectangular room into an eating area and a work/copying area and was able to do that with a bookshelf from IKEA.....
Oh, and let me tell you how fun/productive/maddening it is to put together an IKEA bookshelf with your two year old "helping" the entire time by attempting to read a book in each cubbie......
I also had this giant, built-in-plastered-to-the-wall bookshelf to contend with:
Here is an associated picture of 4 (beautiful) children, gathered around the light of an IPad while my fabulous co-worker/friend, Kate, and I worked on hauling the stuff OFF of the bookshelf....and mostly into the trash.
Here are some "After" pictures from the end of the summer after many trips to the school, many hours spent putting IKEA furniture together (a.k.a. - hell) and many hours of patience from my sweet little man.
View upon entrance.....
Fake tree gone. Replaced with "chill out" area.
- Three chairs/cushions/pillows from IKEA
- coffee table absconded with from my neighbor's curb left for trash and ........ chalk painted!
- rug from Urban Outfitters
Coffee area. Pic taken before we purchased a Keurig which has been SO nice to have this year.
Behind IKEA table is a (now mounted to the wall) peg board, spray painted vanilla and gold to hold baskets for K cups, sugar, cream, etc. Also, some mugs!
Student artwork of coffee shops (seen on table) now mounted on walls, as well.
New "Birthday Board" to display staff birthdays using old frames and chalkboard art created on Pic Monkey, my favorite photo editing website:
And one hilarious little dude who personally tested all the chairs for quality assurance.
***** End of Year Update ************
So, if you're a teacher that's reading this, I need only post this picture to sum up a typical year:
All year we had 4, dark "wood" rectangular tables serving as a lunch-eating area. Not only did the dark laminate darken the ROOM, but it always felt like a huge, boardroom table. Very large and very impersonal. I ordered five, round 36" diameter tables from our school's typical furniture-ordering-company, VIRCO. I did bring a measuring tape into the faculty lounge and saw that 36" table tops would be kind of small, but I took a chance. My principal also used school budget money to order new chairs. Nothing says gross like eating lunch on old, fabric covered chairs that conjure up all kinds of ick.
She showed me VIRCO catalog for chair color choices, and I was immediately drawn to the green ones. A pretty, Granny Smith apple color that would complement the color scheme perfectly.
So, here we are. Typing this on Memorial Day weekend.....so the end is near, my friends!!!!! Here are some pics of our lived-in faculty lounge (or, "Spike Cafe" as the staff has dubbed it, in honor of our English Bulldog mascot, Spike).
What do you think? This page is quickly becoming one of my most re-pinned Pinterest pins (how redundant can I get?!?!?!), so I know there's lots of faculty room re-dos going on out there! What's been working and what's not? I'd love to hear from my fellow comrades!
Bulletin board covered in fabric and burlap. This one allows staff to put up articles or upcoming events, and also "Thank You" notes that come in throughout the year. And baby announcements!!!
Another view of the staff eating area and bookshelf/storage. We started a book share on the top shelf. We brought in books, wrote our names in them, and then I started a sign-out sheet on a clipboard. Hasn't caught on much, but maybe it will.
The back lounge area has been a hit for people that want to come in and relax for a few minutes, but maybe don't want to sit in the "eating area." Back bulletin board has union information, etc.
The all-important coffee and microwave station!!! Our school maintenance guy (Mr. Joe, seen above!!!) has had to deal with many blown fuses, but I think he finally figured it out. The Keurig machine I ordered has held strong this year. I recently bought over 100 K-Cups with some more of the PTO funds and they were GONE in a week or so!!! Us teachers need our tea and coffee!!!!
Happy End of the 2014-2015 School Year, folks!!!!!