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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Teacher wins classroom feng shui makeover

Local News: "Teacher wins classroom makeover

PALM BAY - Southwest Middle School teacher Ronald Lewis may have to contend with drool when fellow educators first catch a glimpse of his new state-of-the-art math classroom.

Lewis was selected "Teacher of the Year" in Brevard County by Life Style Homes, a distinction that earned him a $10,000 extreme classroom makeover that will be the envy of the school district.

"They've left no stone unturned," Lewis said, referring to the cadre of designers, artists and tradesmen that descended upon his teaching sanctum. "Every teacher dreams of what they could do if they had the right tools. Because of Life Style Homes, I'm going to be living my dreams."

Lewis was selected by Life Style from a pool nominated by students, parents and educators as candidates for the Central Florida builder's Education Renovation program.

"My kids really stuffed the nomination box," Lewis said.

He's glad they did.

With the $10,000 budget, interior designers planned a new classroom environment centered around Lewis' interest in math. Using principles of "feng shui," they created a place they thought would be conducive to learning.

It's a fun place, too.

Lewis' passion for chess is represented in chess pieces painted around the walls. A custom-made oversized cherry chess set hangs from the ceiling.

In fact, custom is the operating word in the design.

Most of the furnishings, including a handsome teacher's desk and matching podium, were made to specifications. A large trophy case will provide plenty of storage for the 386 awards Lewis' students have earned in math competitions.

A 16-foot chalkboard with marker board wings will undoubtedly help with problem solving.

However, the "piece de resistance" may well be the brand new projector.

"I've been using just an overhead projector," Lewis said.

Those days are over with the installation of a projector mounted from the ceiling and a giant screen. The projector is tied to Lewis' new laptop and to a wireless network serving six classrooms.

The design team even took into consideration the use of nontoxic, environmentally friendly paint for covering the walls.

Lewis' beloved math team will receive a year's worth of supplies. In fact, thanks to Life Style, every student in Lewis' class will be greeted with plenty of school supplies come the first day of school.

Before John Luhn and Larry Hufford began Life Style Homes 21 years ago, they were planning to make a career in teaching.

"It is a well-known fact that educators are often overworked and underpaid," Luhn said.

Life Style's Education Renovation program is the company's way to thank area teachers for a job well done.

Lewis plans to share his newfound wealth.

"These kids are going to benefit for a lifetime," he said. "I want to share the classroom with as many teachers as possible."

He'll probably have a waiting list."

Sam, Feng Shui Tips


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