A teacher’s versatile lesson plan will have a classroom to match after her students’ contest entry won a large grant from a local business.
A James M. Steele Accelerated High School classroom was chosen in an area “Flip this Classroom” contest, sponsored by BKM, Total Office of Texas. BKM representatives surprised the students in Rachelle Cooper’s classroom with a check presentation of $40,000 during a school assembly Wednesday morning.
BKM used the “Flip this Classroom” contest as an “opportunity to give back to the community,” co-owner Carlene Wilson said, to choose one North Texas middle or high school classroom for new furniture. From 17 video entries, the business chose the one from the small, “nontraditional” learning environment in the Northwest school district.
“You inspired us with that video,” Wilson said to the assembled students. “You shared with us in this video your passion for what you do … and as a business owner, that’s inspiring to me.”
Students in Cooper’s yearbook class created a video to explain why they needed the grant and how it would help.
The video begins by saying that the high school, which used to be an elementary school, has certain “adaptation struggles,” most significantly, Cooper’s classroom. It highlights how different the courses are and how inefficient the space is. The students have to move desks and chairs constantly and can’t collaborate well in groups or while working on computers.
The video includes a virtual tour of a new classroom design showing how the students would want to use the grant and BKM furniture, separating the room into three sections: student seating near the projector for lectures; central mobile desks near an interactive whiteboard; and a Macintosh lab on circular desks, rather than in a line along the wall.
It’s almost “Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition,” Cooper said.
“It’s going to make greater ease of access,” said Cooper, who teaches a wide variety of subjects and at times has three classes at once. “We will be able to use space more efficiently.”
For the students, it was a last-minute project in early October that “as they worked on it, they saw its potential,” Cooper said. They scoped out the competition and realized they had a chance, and were checking the BKM website daily and asking Cooper whether the winner had been picked. Weeks later, their expectations lowered, the entire student body cheered and celebrated the award.
“I was really surprised we won,” senior Stephanie Turacey said. She and Kaycee Hordern, a senior in the yearbook class, said they were “really proud” of friends who worked hard on the video.
Turacey and Hordern also pointed out the inefficiencies of the “confusing” current setup and were thrilled to have the “great opportunity.”
Cooper and yearbook students will work with the BKM team to design the furniture, and the classroom’s “big reveal” will likely be at the beginning of the next semester.