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Welcome Home: Ashley Wallace’s Classroom Makeover

Ashley Wallace’s classroom makeover
Ashley Wallace

Over the summer, Ashley Wallace, a seventh-grade humanities and theater arts teacher at United for Success Academy in Oakland, gave her classroom an “extreme makeover.”

While Wallace is entering her 11th year of teaching, she’s only been at her current school for four years. She inherited what was formerly a music room (complete with soundproofing panels on the upper walls), which had been flooded weeks before school started her first year there due to a fire. The room also had holes in the walls.

Before the makeover. “[Four years ago] I walked in and saw disaster. Since I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, I knew I needed to make it home.”

But Wallace, who also runs the school’s performing arts program, says she loved the room from the start. “It’s connected to the auditorium and has easy access for my drama class and performances,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s located next to the office, across from the garden space, and has a lovely skylight that helps with the lack of windows.”

Close-up of the library, “the favorite place in the room.”

After more than $6,000 in funding came through for her three Donors Choose projects, Wallace chose a rainbow theme and set about creating a beautiful, modern classroom with flexible seating and a homey vibe. The Oakland Education Association member was deliberate about every nook and cranny, including the walls, and paid particular attention to the library area, along with framed artwork and photos. She recorded the journey, including the big reveal, on Instagram.

“[I wanted] a classroom full of diversity in which my students could see their faces and beliefs on the walls and in the personal touches, with flexible seating options” — technically only 20 chairs, but with some 15 additional seats for her 32 students.

Wallace drew particular inspiration from @thesuperheroteacher (Brittany Wheaton), founder of Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition. But the work — cleaning and painting the room, building furniture, hanging pictures, etc. — was done by Wallace, her wife, school staff and students.

Wallace is thrilled with the results. “I’m really proud of this space,” she says. “I feel at home, and hopefully my kids do too.”

To see more of the makeover, go to @itsmswallace on Instagram.


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