The holiday season works its magic at Rev. Brown

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:55

    Sparta - The teachers at the Rev. Brown School in Sparta returned to work on last week and were pleasantly shocked to see that little elves had been busy in the teachers' lounge during the Christmas vacation. Under the direction of masterminds and engineers Lillie Bloomgren and Nora King, parent volunteers came together over the break and refurbished the faculty lounge. The project was a complete surprise to the staff at Rev. Brown. The principal of the school, Dr. Brian Duffy was the only faculty member to know ahead of time what magic was to take place between Christmas and New Year's. The most difficult part of the project according to the volunteers, was keeping it all a secret. Some teachers often come to the school during breaks to do a little classroom work, so heading them off at the pass became a challenge for the volunteer ‘interior designers' as they worked in the lounge. "We knew something was up when we were greeted by parents at the front door, but we never suspected this wonderful surprise, they successfully kept it a secret," said first grade teacher Laura Paterno. Bloomgren came up with the idea during the school's open house program in September. "I thought to myself, while looking around that this room could use some sprucing up. Our teachers are so great and dedicated and I thought they deserved a lounge that is warm and inviting." Bloomgren contacted HGTV's show, Design on a Dime as well as the Oprah Winfrey show. When she did not get selected for a makeover, Bloomgren and her crew of parents sprang into action measuring, shopping and assessing the entire project. The project included the installation of new cabinets and countertops, refurbishing of the closets, installation of new light fixtures and a ceiling fan, a new coat of paint, new curtains, and new coffee pot, microwave and a wall-mounted television, all donated by Rev. Brown families. In addition, a new large table, chairs and matching side board/server were purchased. The volunteers worked in shifts depending on the day, time, project, and area of expertise. According to Bloomgren, the group of adult volunteers also included the help of some students. "Even our children helped out with some of the small jobs. They were so patient giving up their Christmas break to do this for their teachers," said mom volunteer Doreen Casey. The finishing touch was supplied by the school's own art teacher Kim Thorman, who hand-painted a mural which serves as the room's main focal point. "It really looks beautiful, like a French café," remarked Assistant Principal Maureen Racioppi, "It really lifts your spirits." The reaction from the teachers has been the most gratifying for some volunteers. "We got such joy from seeing the teachers' faces; the happiness and excitement in their eyes. They were so touched," said Bloomgren. "We were shocked that the parents did this for us. It's beyond thoughtful," said teacher Dorothy Capasso