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Close to Home – Close to Heart CLASSROOM MAKEOVER

When I started Schoolgirl Style in 2011, I traveled the country doing makeovers and styled rooms for some very deserving teachers.  When I started planning my 2020 events, it was SO important for me to dedicate a portion of my time to my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

I was born and raised in Flint.  My entire family has lived in the Flint area since the automobile industry began in the early 1900’s.  My dad and brother both work for General Motors, as well as my extended family.  I attended college at the University of Michigan – Flint and worked at Citizens Bank as a Teller/Customer Service Representative in downtown Flint throughout my college years.  When I graduated from college, I started teaching at a school in Flint as a first grade teacher.

My roots run deep.   I’m fascinated by the history and have a great love and appreciation for the town.

Unfortunately, many GM facilities have closed in Flint and the town has been plagued by a substantial loss of jobs, poverty, and most recently, the water crisis.  Despite it’s challenges, there are many great things happening and many people/organizations are passionate about the revitalization of this city.

It was so important that I could play a small part in helping the city that raised me.  Giving back to my community by helping a teacher, the students, as well as the entire school family was my biggest priority for 2020.

With that said, I’m SO excited to announce that I’ll be heading to Northridge Academy in Flint, Michigan this April to help a VERY deserving teacher!

I would like to introduce you to Jessica Reed.

Jessica teaches Kindergarten at Northridge Academy in Flint, Michigan.

Northridge is only three miles from the house I grew up in.  These are my stomping grounds.  In fact, I drive by my childhood home to get there – not going to lie, I get emotional every.single.time.  My parents have since moved away.

I would love to tell you a little bit about Jessica and our history…

Jessica was a 5th grade student when I started teaching.  She was a student at my school.  I was teaching first grade, but we both remember each other.

My real interaction with Jessica and her family came when I had her little sister, Chloe, in my Kindergarten class several years later.  Chloe had Down Syndrome.

I can remember there was some controversy at the time about Chloe’s placement and the type of program that would best suit her needs.  I also remember that her mother was the BIGGEST advocate for her daughter.  They made the final decision to send her to Brendel Elementary where I taught Kindergarten.

When I was told that Chloe would be attending Kindergarten at our school, I eagerly raised my hand in our meeting and asked if I could have her.

…and that was the beginning of my love and respect for this family.

Chloe did an amazing job in my class and acclimated to a general education setting.  As the year progressed, I was in awe of her mother’s strength and her relentless advocacy for her daughter.

Chloe was so loved…I also fell in love with this family.

At the end of the school year, ,my principal asked if I was interested in looping up with my class and teaching first grade the following year.  Without a doubt, I took that position.  It meant changing classrooms, but I was up for the challenge!

It also meant that I would keep Chloe for another year…

To make a long story short, another year gave me more time to get to know Chloe’s mom and her big sister, Jessica.

As that following year came to an end, it was time to say goodbye to this special class.  I vividly remember opening the most meaningful gift from Chloe’s mother on the last day of school…a bluebird.

I remember she wrote me the most heartfelt letter about why I was receiving a bluebird…it was only given to the most special people in their lives.

Oh.My.Goodness, let me tell you, I don’t know if I’ve ever cried that hard.  I can STILL remember that moment all these years later.


Another interesting moment at this time, I was also in the process of creating a classroom decorating blog…and I was calling it “Schoolgirl Style.”

and that summer, I decided to create my very first Schoolgirl Style classroom…

a BLUEBIRD THEME inspired by my sweet Chloe.


To read the original post and the inspiration behind this theme, click HERE.


Fast forward to several years later…

Jessica graduated from high school and attended Central Michigan University and was preparing to become a teacher.

Jessica and I were Facebook friends and she regularly posted about her experiences, internships, and Student Teaching.  Jessica also wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion about education and children.  It was evident that her strong mother had positively influenced Jessica to become an advocate for ALL children.  I remember being in awe of her maturity.  I was in awe of everything about her.  I know that the obstacles they faced with Chloe and their desire to protect her, as well as making sure she received every opportunity as her peers, impacted who Jessica is today.

I was SO thrilled she was entering the profession and knew she would be a strong force that would make a difference in many children’s lives throughout her career.  Jessica was (and is) special.

After Jessica graduated from college,  she obtained her first teaching position at Northridge Academy as a Kindergarten teacher – it really couldn’t have been a better fit for her.  This is her fourth year of teaching.  Jessica is SO passionate about the school and all of her students.

Since then, we’ve had many conversations…and in true Jessica fashion, I continue to be in awe of her commitment and advocacy for all of the children at Northridge.

Here is Jessica’s classroom now…

Space seems to be the biggest issue Jessica is facing at the moment.  Her school promotes 100% flexible seating.  Jessica also has 30 Kindergarten students in her classroom, so creating an environment where we can optimize learning will be the goal.

I have a few other surprises up my sleeve and I can’t wait to see Jessica’s face when she walks into her new classroom for the first time!

Circling back to Chloe, Jessica sent me this recent picture.  Chloe is now 17 years old.  I’m SO proud of this young lady and everything she’s accomplished!  I can’t stop smiling when I see this!

The makeover is scheduled for April 6th.  My friends at Carson Dellosa will be helping me, as well as Chad, from The Male Kindergarten Teacher!

Make sure you follow along to watch this BIG transformation!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!  SOOOO INCREDIBLY EXCITED!


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