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Oneida teachers go above and beyond to make classrooms special for students

Some Oneida Special School District teachers worked all summer on designing classrooms that would make students feel comfortable returning to school.

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Inside the walls of Oneida High School, visitors may find the Eiffel Tower in a classroom. It was made to resemble France, helping students feel acclimated to the county's culture while learning French.

Dana Sexton is a French teacher at Oneida High School. She worked all summer to make the room special. She even built a restaurant board to show kids what they would be working on for the week.

That's not all she crafted.

Sexton, with the help of her in-laws, created a LED window that peaks through to the Eiffel Tower. It even has shutters resembling ones people would see in a French home.

Credit: WBIR

Students in the class can even change the color of the LED light to set the tone for the class period.

"I had the idea to create more inviting space," Sexton said. "I think just because kids are in high school doesn't mean that they don't want a really great room."

She found more students peeking their heads into her room, and even taking an interest in French.

"Even kids who don't have French stop and look at my door and tell me how much they really liked my classroom," Sexton said. "They wish they had taken French class this year."

Sexton created the masterpiece on her own time and her own dime.

She found pieces like the cafe table on the Facebook marketplace.

Credit: WBIR

"I had summer to do a lot of these things, and I'm proud of what I was able to put together," Sexton said.

However, she was not the only teacher hard at work. Other teachers in the district also went all out for the school year.

One 5th-grade science teacher, Richica Strunk, spent the summer wallpapering her classroom. She also added some cute, aesthetic touches and even put inspirational quotes on her students' lockers, helping them stay inspired throughout the day.

She finds her students react positively to the atmosphere she worked so hard to create.

"I think if they are comfortable, then they're more open to learning," Strunk said.

Credit: WBIR

She also created a vision board to encourage her students to think big.

At the preschool age, it is more common to find well-decorated classrooms; however, Brittany Martin's classroom takes "color" to the next level.

"We feel that in Pre-K, it is their first experience in the school setting. We want that experience to be a great experience for them, so they will love school from here on out," Martin said.

Martin's room is a rainbow. She said her favorite part is the reading nook which gives students a comfortable space to enjoy their favorite books.  

Credit: WBIR

"It is a bright, happy, fun place to instill a love of learning for our students," Martin said.

It's a way for the teachers to show their support of their students, and make them feel comfortable inside school walls.