Classrooms can be beautiful. The first time I realized this was when I visited my friend Drew Ward’s high school English classroom. He calls it the “MOLA”—Museum of Language Arts. His walls are black and covered in colorful empty frames. At the beginning of the school year he challenges his students to write something worthy of hanging in the MOLA.
It made an impression on me, and I think it was in the back of my mind when I was recently working on a project in the Jaguar Den. The Jaguar Den is a open, multi-use room that has been re-carpeted and painted, awaiting decoration. Among other things, it will be a venue for indoor garden activities during our cold months (such as the vocabulary-building Garden Bingo we played on a rainy NEAT day.)
“Kids with Cameras” is a collaborative after school program involving the school garden. (You can read about it here.) We enlarged and matted the kids’ best photos from our Volcan Mountain trip for a community reception. After the photos were on display at the library for two weeks, the Character Council (charged with designing this new space) decided to have the framed prints hung in the Jaguar Den to create a “gallery feel.” In this way, students’ work is exhibited, and the photos contribute to a clean and beautiful look we are going for in this room.