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Teacher wins classroom makeover

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Livingston Elementary School kindergarten teacher Megan Miller won a classroom makeover from Chalk N More in Central Park. (DAVE ELLIS / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

When Megan Miller walked into her Livingston Elementary School kindergarten classroom last week, it was already ready for her. 

And while the other teachers at the rural Spotsylvania County school are rushing to ready their classrooms for the arrival of students Tuesday, Miller is taking her time with lesson plans.

Miller is able to spend more time on tasks other than decorating because she won a classroom makeover from Chalk N More, the teaching-supply store in Fredericksburg’s Central Park shopping center.

She entered the makeover contest months ago while shopping for school supplies in the store and forgot about it until a store official called her in July to tell her she had won.

“I wanted to cry,” she said about seeing her completed classroom. “It was like HGTV came and and redid the room.”

Four retired Spotsylvania teachers came in two days in a row and decorated the room for Miller. One brought in a sewing machine and made all of the curtains and pillows by hand.

The volunteers also set up the tables, decorated bulletin boards, hung learning materials and designed the room to have an open, colorful layout.

The classroom has distinct centers for reading, storage, small groups and large groups.

Chalk N More also donated games and helped revitalize the teaching materials Miller already owned.

“This is something I couldn’t have done on my own,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t have thought to set up the room like this. It’s so cute, but practical.”

Miller started working for Spotsylvania schools last year. Livingston needed another kindergarten teacher in late September when the classes became too large, and she stepped in.

“I didn’t decorate last year, either,” she said.

Mary Hefner, who taught in Spotsylvania schools for 30 years, helped decorate Miller’s room this year. Hefner now works for Chalk N More ordering teaching supplies.

She said the items in the classroom would have cost more than $500.

Miller said she would have had to dip into her own budget to decorate the room, and even ask her parents to donate funds to help her. Her classroom budget from the school division goes mainly toward supplies such as glue sticks and scissors, she said.

Hefner also said that decorating the room reminded her and the other retired teachers who helped how large a task getting classrooms ready is.

“It’s one thing we don’t miss,” she said.

Miller said her favorite items are the magnetic calendar, which the students can use, the curtains and the library chairs.

Frank Hughes, owner of Chalk N More, said this was the first year the contest was offered, but he hopes to offer it again next year. He said more than 100 teachers entered.

“Our client base is teachers,” he said. “This was an opportunity to help them out.”

The two months surrounding the start of school are the busiest time of the year for the store, which opened here about a year ago.

Hughes said about 60 percent of the store’s annual business occurs between July and September as teachers gear up for classes.

When Miller’s 20 or so kindergartners show up on Tuesday, Miller said she hopes they benefit from an engaging learning space.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It makes it OK staying late. It’s like a second home, for me and hopefully for the students, this warm, inviting classroom.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976