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.
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.
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.
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.