Explorer staff report
An Oro Valley resident is one of five teachers across the country given a free, $10,000 room makeover.
Stephanie Hayes teaches English language learners in grades 1-3 at Holaway Elementary School, located near Prince and Campbell in Tucson. She's in her fifth year at Holaway, and 10th year in the Amphitheater district.
Through a partnership between Honeywell and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Hayes won the makeover through a first-ever school-based national abduction prevention program called "Got 2B Safe! Think Smart. Take Charge." The room makeover was revealed to her students for the first time Tuesday, Sept. 7.
It was "the chance of a lifetime," Hayes said. "There's no way I would be able to do this stuff without Honeywell."
Before the makeover, Hayes said her room needed work. "The blinds were stuck," for example. "That's the way my classroom was, it was fine, it worked," Hayes said. "Now I can open the blinds. We have huge, beautiful windows. I worked with my designer to make my classroom very functional."
Local designer Tamara Scott Anderson "really supports education," and donated her time to make the room over, Hayes said. "We got the paint and blinds donated. My uncle ended up painting for us." With the savings, "we were able to get more technology," Hayes said.
She learned of the selection in late April. Hayes and her husband Jeremy, a teacher at Coronado K-8 School, went to Washington, D.C., for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hope Awards and related events.
Teaching English as a second language means "every year brings something a little different, dependent upon our population," Hayes said. Typically, she'll have up to a dozen students. Most of them are Spanish speakers this year; recently, she's had African refugees, a child from Iraq and a girl from China. "It's a pretty diverse population," Hayes said.
Since 2005, Got 2B Safe! has been distributed to more than 72,000 U.S. elementary schools, reaching more than 5 million students. It teaches critical and potentially life-saving lessons to children ages 8-10, emphasizing four rules — check first with parents and guardians, go with a friend, "It's My Body" and tell a trusted adult.