HED: Wheeler teachers trying to brighten students’ days

AUTHOR: GINN

HED: Wheeler teachers trying to brighten students’ days

By Jennifer Ginn

Daily Journal

WHEELER When students return to class at Wheeler Elementary School in a little more than a week, they’re going to find that their world just got a whole lot brighter.

For the past three weeks, teachers and other staff members at the school have been working feverishly to paint murals down the main hallway. Walls that were once gray now are decorated with trees, blue birds, farm scenes and white picket fences.

The idea got started with second-grade teacher Jill Epting. She said she posed the idea to administrators a couple of years ago to do a mural in the building.

“A first-grade teacher brought the idea up again,” Epting said. “We went around and talked to everyone. We don’t have a lot of money in the district to do this. The teachers agreed to pay for their own paint and we would do volunteering to do (paint) it.”

Carol Chism, a first-grade teacher, said the main reason they are painting the murals is because construction-paper cutouts taped up in the hallway don’t work in the building.

“We put trees up to hang artwork from and they kept falling down,” Chism said. “That was the original reason (to do this). We just decided to do permanent trees.”

The idea for the scenes painted outside their classrooms is left up to the individual teacher. A group of workers, which has included a school board member, helps each teacher finish the scene. Murals are painted on both walls for about half the length of the hallway.

Epting said although it is getting too close to the beginning of school to begin any more murals, she hopes that eventually the hallway will be filled with colorful paintings.

“We wanted to create a sense of community among the classrooms,” she said. “It will look like their classrooms are in a community, with the white picket fences going down the wall.

“Really, we’ve had the best time. Getting together to do this, we have laughed, kidded and bonded. It’s certainly contributed to our own personal relationships. You get to know people a little better than you might during the school year.”

Chism said she thinks it will be worth the effort and personal expense once the children get a look at the murals.

“I think the children are going to love this color,” she said. “If we have a rainy day, we have all of these sunshines (painted in the hall). It’s really for them.”