01/17/10 — Teacher captures classroom makeover

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Teacher captures classroom makeover

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 17, 2010 1:50 AM

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Miranda Randall, science teacher at Charles B. Aycock High School, sits at one of the lab desks, believed created circa 1960, in her classroom. She recently won one of five $2,500 prizes in a nationwide contest, to help make over her room.

Last year was Miranda Randall's first as a teacher, so she didn't complain about not having a classroom at Charles B. Aycock High School.

The science teacher got used to "always roaming" around the building to work with her students, she said.

When this school year rolled around, she was thrilled to get a classroom of her own, even though it meant inheriting shopworn and antiquated furnishings.

The staff learned about a classroom makeover contest, after word came down from the district's central office. Nominees stood to receive up to $2,500 to purchase needed items or use for upgrades.

Right away, Mrs. Randall's imagination went into overdrive.

"I saw 'Classroom Make-over' and I thought, 'Wow, my class can use a makeover,'" she said.

She described what she was up against in the letter she submitted in the nationwide competition.

"This science classroom has had the same equipment since 1960," she wrote. "The lab tables are rundown, with nails sticking out of them and the legs are falling off. The tables have outlets on the sides but there are wood chips in them so they are not usable.

"There are only 24 seating places and class size is growing rapidly. I have 36 students in my third period. Please keep this classroom in mind. There is so much potential in this room."

Her entry was one of five recipients chosen from across the country by sponsor Great American Financial Resources, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

On Friday, company representatives showed up at Aycock to present her with a $2,500 check.

"For more than 30 years, we've been helping educators prepare for their retirement," said Mathew Dutkiewicz, executive vice president of Great American. "In talking with our clients throughout the country, we've heard over and over again how educators often use their own money to provide supplies for their classrooms."

The Great American Classroom Makeover was a take-off on the popular TV show, "Extreme Makeover," he said. It seemed appropriate enough, as it provides an opportunity to give back to schools and make a difference for teachers dedicated to their students.

"This is such a great story for you and the school," he told Aycock administration and staff gathered near the school's front office for the presentation. "You have a community here .... for all of you that have been here and grown up here, it is just tremendous."

Mrs. Randall also falls into that category, having graduated from the school in 2002 before completing her secondary education at East Carolina University.

While only a few students were at the school on Friday, as it was a makeup exam day, she said she had already told her classes about the award.

"They were like, 'Oh, my gosh, that's awesome,'' she said. "They started clapping. They were excited."

And Mrs. Randall, too, was very pleased at the prospect of sprucing up her surroundings. She said she has already begun pricing things, with an eye toward making the winnings go as far as possible.

"The main thing I want to do is get these tables," she said. "I would like to have desk chairs, a new overhead screen. I don't know, there's so much, like a new countertop."

Dr. Earl Moore, principal at CBA, was also appreciative that a member of his staff was receiving some financial support.

"In these economic times, we all have many a time the teachers go the extra mile to do what's best for the children," he aid. "I know this will be one way to get some of the equipment or technology, some of the things these teachers need to help ensure our students will be prepared for the 21st century."

In addition to the monetary award, Mrs. Randall was also presented with a gift bag that contained a one-year subscription to the Great American Teachers' Club, a membership site that provides an all-access pass to ideas and inspiration from renowned educator Ron Clark and his award-winning faculty from the Ron Clark Academy.