Published on February 16th, 2017 | by Marcelo Torres


Creative Classrooms

Students look forward to come to school for different reasons: to learn about their interests, or to hang out with their friends. But some also come for the spectacles at Samo, such as the classrooms decorated with artwork and murals. Some teachers have their classrooms decorated by student art work, assignments or student painted murals in order to transform the room and make it memorable, be it consciously or unconsciously.

English teacher and department chair Jennifer Pust’s room is decorated with a student painted mural. The room contains yellow colored shapes with a blue background. Although Pust is a English teacher, the room belonged to a math teacher before she inherited it, which explains the geometric shapes that line the top of the walls.

Spanish teacher Heather Wethern’s room has a mural in it which depicts classic images from the literature students were required to read for Spanish 6 AP. The painting was commissioned by the retired Foreign Language department chair and Spanish 6 AP teacher. Jose Lopez, and when Wethern took over his position, she also got his classroom. The odd mural which has vivid colors and a magnitude that covers up a whole wall, acts as a supplement for the tales by showing the stories instead of just reading them. Wethern believes they enhance the learning environment and add as a supplement to the students reading.

“It makes students inquisitive,” Wethern said.

According to Wethern, not only does having a decorated classroom help brighten the students’ day and supplement their learning, but it also helps show the students that they are appreciated.

“Students are always happy to come in here because it’s so colorful,” Wethern said.

Similar to Wethern, Kitaro Webb’s room also has a mural on it. The Mark Twain quote was commissioned by former English teacher, Peter Sawaya, before Webb was even his student in 2003 in Sawaya’s beat literature class. Sawaya’s picture is still up next to the mural to remind all the students who originally had it put in his room. The quote deals with want and uses the example of Adam from the Bible story of Adam and Eve to explain his view on it. Webb explains how he doesn’t need to explain or implement the quote in his teaching because students do it of their own free will and use it as an example to explain their reasoning.

Other teachers, such as science teacher, Benjamin Kay, believe that creative aspects in the classroom are used to teach students that learn visually. The “window into the sea,” as Kay calls his aquarium, was put in and is maintained by Kay. It contains plankton, a Whelk sea snail and a swell shark. The 240-gallon aquarium used to be teeming with life, until the school didn’t let Kay come in during the summer to feed the animals. He therefore had to donate all the animals that previously called the aquarium home to organizations that would take care of them.

The multi-thousand dollar aquarium was made possible by grants from the school, such as the PTSA Mini Grant. According to Kay, his hope for the aquarium is that special education students will be able to spend some time with the aquarium.

“Everyone should be able to come in and spend time with the sealife,” Kay said.

The original reason he installed the aquarium was for visual learning purposes, so that the visual learners that he has in his classes can have something other than lectures to supplement their learning.

Classrooms such as the ASB and Journalism rooms have couches in them. In order for the students in those classes to relax after hard work making the yearbook or planning out pep rallies, they can go to the couch and relax and talk with friends.

The teachers in the art department have decorated their rooms with past students’ artwork. Art teacher Dave Jones’ room has drawings hung all over his room which range from portraits to collages that show different forms of shading, sketching and other drawing techniques. Photo teacher Martin Ledford’s room has photographs from his past students that were his favorites, and ceramics teacher Tania Fischer has past students’ sculptures.

Some classrooms, such as the auto shop and yoga rooms, have to be decorated in a certain way in order to learn. The autoshop room has machinery all over holding cars up, power tools to remove parts from cars, engines and tires, all used to teach students in auto shop. They learn a variety of things ranging from changing a car battery to replacing a whole motor. Across campus in the yoga room, the room is equipped with cubbies and mats and mirrors in order to do yoga and focus on attaining the perfect body position. The yoga room has its walls painted to represent the Chumash tradition, that believes in order to know where you are going, you have to know where you are. Having the walls represent the directions north, south, east and west reinforces that idea that you know where you are, and thus you can figure out where you are going.

Classrooms that have creative aspects that are not only used to brighten students’ days, but are also used to supplement learning. Since most classes are taught by reading or listening to the teacher, different ways to make a classroom feel unique add a visual aspect to the learning process. By including all kinds of art forms to decorate classrooms, an environment is created that fuels students’ passions and can help them to succeed.

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