Teacher Reflections

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

I loved the world of home décor and furnishings. Although, my life was not nearly as glamourous as some would think, it was truly lovely being surrounded by beautiful things. As I would pull myself out from under a bed after plugging in a lamp, I would remind myself, “This is going to look so beautiful.” Yes, sometimes the décor and design world got a little bit messy but never as messy as the classroom.

This was my first public design project that I did when I was still in college studying interior design. I had the opportunity to work with my employer to furnish one of the first loft apartments in Springfield, Missouri which overlooked its downtown. This shot was featured in the local newspaper. Photo Credit: Springfield News-Leader
Creating interior sketches always brought me peace and it went a long way toward helping a customer visual their space.

Fourteen years ago, when I came into my first classroom in an alternative school, I put my design talents to work creating a color-coordinated room that felt comfortable and inviting to my middle school and high school students. I proudly decorated my classroom thinking, “This is going to look so pretty.” It was pretty, but it was messy. I don’t mean that the room was messy, I mean that teaching was messy.

This was my classroom home for about seven years. I had another room, too which was a kitchen lab. These rooms were filled with fond memories of teaching students life skills, nutrition, cooking, sewing, interior design and so much more. Please note that the technology was far, far outdated but I was so happy just to have four old computers that my students could use for online learning opportunities.

I did amazingly well for my first year as a teacher, especially considering the lack of resources that I had as I built a new Family and Consumer Sciences program for the school. What I didn’t anticipate was the messy part.  As I taught content such as responsible parenting, nutrition, personal finance, fashion design, interior design, sewing and employability skills to these students that had been removed from their schools through disciplinary action, I began to build relationships with them. Out of these relationships came stories and the stories of many of these young lives were messy to say the least. Yet, as I built relationships with these students, I discovered that somehow, I was still surrounded by beautiful things.

Students learning to draft floor plans and elevations for their Dream Bedroom project in my interior design class. So many wanted to give up, yet were so excited when they finally had their “A-ha!” moment.

Taking these first steps into the world of education, I realized that my client changed and my product changed, yet I was still surrounded by beauty – very messy beauty. But then, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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