Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition

By on March 11, 2009

There’s been so much talk lately of deep-needed reforms for education, but we neglect just how powerful a simple makeover can be.  I’m lucky to currently work at a school that has a patch of green, which fixes the broken windows and washes off the graffiti when it happens.  But I’ve worked at the schools that smell of urine, at the sites that lay forgotten by funding, yet are still expected to succeed. 

According to What Not to Wear, a makeover does wonders for your confidence, your pride.  According to Extreme Makeover, it can renew your hope in life.

These schools need Paige Davis to come in and slap some paint on their walls.  They need Xzibit to “Pimp My Room”.

They need someone to clear out the clutter, stacks of multiple measures and piles of supplies left from teachers who inhabited their rooms long ago.  They need someone to build them bookcases, replacing the gimmicky gutters bought at Home Depot stuck onto their wall.  They need carpets, now held together by duct tape, and cabinets, now stripped of paint, to be reborn once again.

They need cubbies.  They need shelves.  They need supplies, more diverse then even Staples could provide.

They need desks that allow movement into groups, rows, columns, pairs.  They need chairs that are balanced on all four legs.  They need windows without webs of cracks, and a faucet that turns off once used.

They need green.  They need patches of landscaped carpet squares to lay on with a good book.  They need a tree to eat lunch under.

Schools need to be freed of police tape, freed of asbestos, and freed of the landscape of concrete that makes learning feel more like a prison then a future.

Schools need a makeover.  We talk about deeper makeovers, ones that reflect true reform.  But they also need surface makeovers, a metamorphosis that allows students and communities to have some pride in their schools.

Yes, we all know that change happens from within, but we can’t neglect the change that happens from an Extreme Makeover. 


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