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Ben-Hem Teacher's Lounge Gets a Make-Over

posted Aug 27, 2013, 8:02 PM by Kristina Fernandes

Today, at the Teacher's Appreciation luncheon, the Ben-Hem PTO revealed a new look for the Teacher's Lounge!  The make-over took place over the summer and came about by new PTO Co-President, Tracey Gondelman, taking a tour of the school.  "Have you seen the Teacher's Lounge?", she remarked afterward in a disgusted tone.  "We have to do something about it!".

The first step in addressing the Teacher's Lounge was to bring in a Project Manager who was creative, talented, and was ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.  That person was Jen Little, mom of a first and second grader at Ben-Hem.

"Jen was incredible!", stated PTO Co-President Krissy Fernandes.  "Within the first few days of handing off the project to her, she had already formulated a plan.  We must have received 5 emails within 24 hours with pictures, brainstorming ideas, and a list of must have items that we should put in the room."

The only problem with Jen's plan was where were all of those items going to come from?  There was no budget allocated for this project, so how was the make-over team going to carry out Jen's plan?  Immediately Tracey hit the road requesting donations from local businesses.  Palette's and Dover Rug, both Natick businesses, answered her plea.

Palette's co-owner, Liza Curtis, is a Ben-Hem mom and she and her partners were glad to help.  They donate close to 15 beautiful paintings that were sure to add color to the room, adding interest and warmth.  (Find out more about Palette's at

One of the higher cost items on Jen's wish list was a new rug to make the space more cozy.  She was in luck!  As a result of Tracey's efforts, Dover Rug stepped forward and offered to donate a brand new rug from their show room.  Tracey and Jen took a field trip out to their location on Route 9 and picked out their choice from a selection of rugs.  The team at Dover Rug was very excited about being able to help and even asked Jen and Tracey to pose for a picture with them before they left.  (Find out more about Dover Rug at (

After that, all it took was a little creativity, Pinterest, and a lot of hard work.  Many of the items that wound up in the room were made by members of the make-over team, including a coffee table made from free pallets and scrap wood, and a coffee station made from an antique radio cabinet found on the side of the road.

Whatever wasn't made was purchased and donated by the make-over team and other Ben-Hem parents.

The feedback received from the teachers has been overwhelmingly positive.  Some of the comments from the teachers included:

"I never used to eat in here.  I would just heat up my food and leave.  Now I think I will stay and eat my lunch here."

"It is great to have something like this done for the teachers.  I have seen a boost in the teaching teams morale."

For the make-over team, comments like this make the project (and volunteering in general) worth the time and effort.

To view the reveal presentation, go to:

To find out more about how you can volunteer in the next project or event, go to: Volunteer