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I’m teaching Kindergarten!

I bet some of you were absolutely shocked when I announced on Facebook that I was heading back to the classroom!  I still can’t believe it myself.  I’ve been so busy with my new position and running Schoolgirl Style, that it’s been almost impossible to get to my computer and tell you the story.  I finally have some time to sit down and explain EVERYTHING!

Here it goes…

My husband is the principal of a K-8 Catholic school in my hometown (this happens to be the school that I attended as a child).  Back in January, the Kindergarten teacher at his school made the decision to resign from her position to pursue an advanced degree.  When my husband came home to tell me the news, naturally, there was some nervousness on his part.  He was very concerned about finding a new teacher.  He was hoping to find someone with experience, since he knew it would be tough for a brand new teacher to walk into a classroom in February.  As he was telling me about his situation, my mind started racing…I wondered if I could do it?  I’ve taught Kindergarten for several years and felt very comfortable with this grade level.  Also, my daughter was in this class.  I knew right away that it made sense for me to take over for the remainder of the year…I had to help my husband and help my daughter!

When I told my husband that I would be willing to do it, he thought I was C.R.A.Z.Y.!!!  He kept saying, “Melanie.  You can’t do this.  You’re too busy.”  Yes, it was true…I am busy running Schoolgirl Style, but I have some AMAZING employees!  I knew right away that if it became too hard, they would be able to help with my responsibilities.  I’ve always been very lucky because my Schoolgirl Style schedule allowed me to be a mom during the day, and once my family goes to bed, I work on Schoolgirl Style products at night.   I realized that my schedule really wouldn’t change if I took the position.  I could continue working on Schoolgirl Style in the evenings and it WOULD be possible to teach during the day!  My husband knows that once I get something in my head, there is NO changing my mind!:)  With the support of his boss, they both agreed that I would be the best fit for the position.  YAY!!!

The thought of going back to the classroom was SO exciting!  I love my Schoolgirl Style job, but I also love teaching!  Leaving the profession was one of the hardest decisions that I’ve ever made in my life.  I almost felt like I had lost my identity when I left.  There has been a huge hole in my heart for the last three years, but every time I thought about going back, I would tell myself that it didn’t make sense.  The rational side of me knew that since Schoolgirl Style was doing really well, it would be so silly to even consider it.  I felt a constant pull towards teaching that I continually forced myself to ignore.

This position just fell into my lap.  Never in a million years did I think I would be going back so soon….maybe someday, but not now.  It’s funny how life works.  I truly feel like I was meant to take this position and I’m at that school for a reason.  Everyday when I walk into that classroom, I feel like the luckiest person alive!  Taking a few years off has revitalized my passion and there isn’t any place I’d rather be!  Yes, I miss being able to shop for photo shoots during the day OR being able to schedule a doctor’s appointment whenever I want, but this job has been so rewarding.  I just absolutely LOVE it!

Oh!  I forgot to mention…this position is not permanent.  I will be done in June.  I can apply and interview for the permanent position if I would like to.  I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I think you can guess which way I am leaning!:)  I plan to continue and grow Schoolgirl Style either way.  We grew tremendously this year (just wait until you see all of our new products) and I have plans up my sleeve to grow even bigger the following year.  There is no slowing down for sure!

Okay, now it’s time to show you my room…

Disclaimer:  I only had two days to pull this room together.  Also, I didn’t know if I was taking the position permanently until two weeks INTO the position.  I didn’t have a theme planned or any decor ready.  The first day I got into the classroom, I cleaned the room and created a room arrangement.  The second day, I threw some bulletin board paper and border up (I didn’t have a chance to even think it through), then added some lanterns above each table.  I knew that all “decorations” had to be student work.  I did have a few items left over from a photo shoot – I used those as well.  It had to be quick and easy – there wasn’t time to do anything else.

Just so you know, I am SO apprehensive to show these photos.  I know all of you are expecting something out of this world!  I feel like I am disappointing all of you.  I had one follower tell me that I needed to be transparent.  I think about her comment constantly.  She is absolutely right.  I need to show you that, first of all, it’s not perfect…and it’s really okay.  Secondly, you don’t necessarily need a lot of time or money to make a classroom look inviting.   I’m so busy focusing on curriculum, that I haven’t gone back to add a thing.  I don’t plan to add anything either.  If  I get the position next year, it will be a different story…I have big plans for that room.  For now, I’m content with what we have…and the children absolutely LOVE it!  A bunch of older girls walked through my classroom the other day and I overheard one of them say, “What a great place to learn!!!”  I’ve accomplished what I had hoped for…end of story.





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  1. Maria Manore says

    I LOVE IT! I have been wondering about you and your return to the classroom and I’m so glad you decided to share your story on the blog. Your classroom is absolutely beautiful and the fact that you are more concerned with curriculum than decorations just goes to show what a wonderful and talented educator you are. Most importantly, I’m glad you’re happy with your decision!

  2. Emily says

    Glad to see the after pictures! I don’t think anyone was expecting perfect, and it helps the rest of us know our best is good enough. There are so many pressures for teachers, women & moms coming from so many angles, good to see that we aren’t compeiting with one another, just here to support!

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  3. Erin says

    I have really been looking forward to reading your story! I was so curious what your classroom might look like after seeing all the amazing things you do with School Girl Style. I think your after pictures are awesome! This Is a perfect display of how to make a room fun and exciting within a tight time frame and fewer resources. I think it’s a perfect showcase for the teacher who doesn’t feel like they have the time or financial resources to go all out on another theme. Your students are so lucky to have you! You’re clearly very passionate about everything you do and I can only imagine how fun it is to be a student in your room!

  4. Jessica says

    Melanie, you’ve inspired so many teachers with your style. I think your room looks great! Especially with only 2 days…never apologize for being honest. We all are overwhelmed with curriculum. it’s nice to see and hear it from a teacher-style “celebrity”! Have a great rest of the year…and I hope you get the job in the fall :0)

  5. Laura D says

    So happy that you have found a way to balance family, teaching and your business! Love what you do! I’m sure you are an amazing teacher. Your room looks like a fun place to learn!

  6. Misty says

    “What a great place to learn!”. Best compliment you could get! Your room looks perfect to me. I teach preschool and despite being taught that your room should be bare and then decorated by the children, I still add my special touches and lots of color. People always stop to peek in and love how bright it is. And yes, I have tons of the children’s work on display as well. I feel like you only get once to make a first impression. When parents walk into my room the first time time and see how I’ve made it fun and inviting for their child I think it sets the tone that I care about the details. Plus its just fun to learn in a beautiful environment!

  7. Karen says

    Melanie, it looks fabulous because it looks real. Real teaching and learning is going on in that room and that’s what shines in these pictures. Teachers need to see the what’s real and within their reach. The doable parts to classroom environment. I love classroom design and decor. It shows students and parents you care about the child and their learning environment. It also brings a sense of home to the space. Without being unrealistic, you have all of that in your classroom. It’s fabulous to see! Wishing you nothing but the best for the remainder of your year.

  8. Jana says

    I love, love, LOVE how your room is decorated. I can only imagine how your students feel. How do you get away with hanging things from the ceiling? I’m so jealous. Our fire marshall will not let us do that.

  9. Jenna says

    Love! I’m so jealous that you can hang things from the ceiling! We can’t anymore due to fire codes. Love the room!

  10. Mary Mack Prince says

    I LOVE it!!! I’m already inspired for next year to use the colored lanterns for table group identification. Thank you for sharing your heart and gifts with the students and fellow educators!

  11. Kim says

    It looks great! I lived in your hometown for a few years growing up and my sister went to the school you’re teaching at for 4th-6th grade! We moved right before I was supposed to start kindergarten there. Such a great place to live! I loved Little Joe’s, Halo Burger, and Dawn Donuts growing up!!!! 🙂

  12. Kristin says

    Your room Is adorable! I know the kids eyes must have sparkled when they walked in. It’s so great that you are teaching your kids that mom’s can do it ALL !! Question – did you cover the windows with yellow paper and border? If so, what is on the other side? I know the paper would fade. I’m moving into a new room next year that has four one way glass windows. They are not used anymore. I wanted to pick your brain. What would you do with the windows? I think I want to cover them up somehow and utilize the space. Thanks for your advice in advance!!

  13. Kim Burke says

    Your room is so cute. I am surprised they let you hang things from the ceiling. In all the schools I have worked in they say it is a fire hazard and will not allow it.

  14. NotJANE says

    It takes time to make your space truly the way you want it. 2 years in this current room and I spent 3 days of spring break rearranging and redecorating! 🙂 Congrats and what a sweet thing to do for your hubby and little one. We’ll be excited to hear if you stay!

  15. Janet Dickens says

    How inspiring! As a teacher who has “lost” her place, but not her spark – your story inspired me. I know that better times are coming, and I know that teaching is my calling, my passion. Thanks for sharing. And I love the lanterns matching the tables. I didn’t even notice the table tops or the colored squares on the floor until I saw your after photo! I can’t wait until April to see all the new eye candy!

  16. Practice Makes Perfect says

    Your room looks great with just the right amount of decoration without being too overwhelming or busy for some of the “less focused” little friends you might have in class. Sounds like you’ve been called to go back into the classroom; funny how He never gives up until His voice in your heart is impossible to ignore, isn’t it?

    Good luck. I think your students are very lucky to have you!

  17. Holly {Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade} says

    I’ve always loved you and what you do and the heart you put behind it – BUT…I love you even MORE now because while YOU might think your classroom isn’t perfect…it is MORE perfect than you will ever know! Your daughter is so lucky to have you as her teacher and her classmates are blessed as well – I know going into this position was probably a hard decision and took sacrifice on your part…which makes this space look even more sweet and perfect {knowing the sweet sacrifices that you made}…

    Hugs and much LUCK and happiness!

    Holly {Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade}

  18. Shannon Bryant says

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love your room, your honesty, and your sweet willingness to be open to the unexpected! God bless in your new adventure!!!!! Shannon 🙂

    • Shelli Thelen says

      I am also interested in how the Line is anchored on the walls and after reading all of these posts I am worried that someday we won’t be able to hang things from the ceiling! I would be so sad…

  19. Karen McDavid says

    Your classroom is adorable. It’s such an inviting place your little one’s. It’s warm and full of color, just what a little kindergartener needs to spark their creativity.

    Question: Where did you find the boxes on the counter by the window (red, blue, orange, purple)? They look to the be the perfect size to store 3 prong folders or workbooks. 🙂

    Good luck in your adventure! Wishing you the joy of beautiful memories spent with your wee ones.

  20. Queen of the Click says

    I’m glad you went back for such good reasons and that it is your husbands school too. Your classroom looks great and those kids are lucky to have an experienced teacher! Plus it’s awesome that your daughter is in the class.

    I first found you and started following you when you were still teaching and sharing pics (like the ones you shared recently – the cat in the hat mozzerella cheese and the St. Patty’s Day candy bags).

    You don’t have to be transparent or follow what someone on a blog says – share when you can or want. We all love you and can wait. 🙂

  21. Katie says

    Your room looks great! I think that it looks like the perfect learning environment. Was this the room that the other teacher left? If it is, I am just sadden to see that she took everything down basically. To do that to kids isn’t right. Happy you have this wonderful opportunity! God works in great ways! I teach at the school I went to school at from K-8th. I am in my old Kindergarten room too! I love it!

  22. Misty says

    Melanie –

    You are always such an inspiration! Your passion and happiness comes shining through your words. I am so happy for all of you! I love how the class looks and the globes in the center are such a great touch! Can’t wait to here more!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  23. Bonnie says

    Wow! two days! incredible, it looks amazing and I love love love the globes on each table and all the maps. Fantastic job and very inspiring!

  24. lisa says

    It may not be a “couture” classroom, but it sure does look like a happy one! The colors are great for kindergarten and I like that everything in there looks like it is centered around the kids. Looks like an inviting place for learning!

  25. Annette says

    Just beautiful!! I own some of your collections…I *love* them and I personally feel that this will only serve to improve the styles you offer going forward because it will spark new ideas and creativity! I am new to the teaching world after many years in corporate America and there’s no where I’d rather be! It’s an amazingly rewarding profession. <3 Congrats!!

  26. Holly Ehle says

    LOVE it! Love your story too! I literally am on the edge of my seat to see your new designs!! I am going to redecorate my room this summer and know I’m going to be using School Girl Style to do it!

    Best wishes! Those kiddos are so very blessed to have you!!

  27. Sarah-Jane says

    Hi Melanie! Congratulations on your decision…how wonderful for you. Your classroom looks great, and just think about all the other classrooms you have also ‘decorated’ with your wonderful decor! Love your work!! Best wishes,

  28. Brooke says

    I love it! It looks like a REAL kindergarten classroom! And it looks better than mine with tons more prep time! I think it was so brave to take it mid-year with so little time to prep and plan! So I think it is wonderful, inviting, real, and colorful—everything a K classroom should be!

  29. KIm says

    God bless you for stepping in and taking over!! It’s darling. I’m on my fourth year back to work after being home a bit and I am constantly arranging and rearranging the space I’m in. I can’t wait to hear if you decide to “keep on, keeping on” 🙂
    Best wishes,
    From a fellow Michigander!

  30. Leanne Stringer says

    well done on making such a big decision. Your classroom looks amazing (only two days – WOW!!). I teach in the UK and have done for the past 14 years. I came across your website last summer and bought the Woodland Animals collection. Well worth the money!! I have had soooo many comments this year from staff and children. Just today a little boy from another class came in and said “Mrs Stringer this classroom is so lovely.” You really have inspired me Melanie!! Thanks for sharing!!

  31. Jennifer says

    I am teaching Kindergarten at a Catholic school next year. I am eagerly awaiting your new theme releases on the 12th before I commit. I’m loving the chalkboard rainbow, but I just want to see what else you have up your sleeve! I was so overwhelmed with how to decorate…I just love your themes and your eBook has been a lifesaver. I would also love to see how you incorporate Catholicism into your decor. Congrats on your job!

  32. Jenny says

    Pretty awesome for such short notice. It looks like a fun primary room to learn in AND teach in! I didn’t even notice the colored floor tiles in the “before” picture, but they really tie in with the rest of the room in the “after” pictures.

    I followed some of your tips when I decorated my classroom in August. I have new blue carpet and very bright bright blue shelving that needed to tie in with the walls. I found some neutral blue fabric to cover the walls and it all worked out great in the end.

    Thanks for being real. It inspires the rest of us. Enjoy your K’s!

  33. Heather says

    Thank you for sharing! I absolutely love Schoolgirl Style but I am glad that you are getting to teach as well. Thank you for all of your hard work.

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