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Border Star teachers receive new lounge thanks to nonprofit, HGTV star

Shenique Jackson helps one of her students with math
Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 16, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shenique Jackson wants her students to feel at home in her Border Star Montessori classroom. It already feels like home to her.

"I went here as a child, so this has been my dream since first grade to work with students," Jackson said.

Shenique Jackson, Border Star teacher

But when she needs a well-deserved break, she can't go to the most comfortable place. The teachers' lounge is an old classroom with a few folded tables and chairs, a refrigerator, and a coffee machine.

"I’m getting my drink and walk on out," Jackson said. "I eat lunch in here, but it’s not something I want to sit in."

Border Star Principal Stacia Deckard goes as far as to call it "hideous."

"It is not a welcoming place for teachers to go," Deckard said.

It became her goal to turn that lounge around for her teachers.

Stacia Deckard, Border Star Principal

"I just want to make sure I can show them a little appreciation," Deckard said. "Not by food, not with a little gift card, but something big."

Deckard met with Principals Connect, a nonprofit supporting school leaders in the urban core. She expressed her goal to give her teachers a comfortable space, and the group knew what they needed to do.

"We wanted this to be something fun that you could do in a weeks time, and you tap into generous community partners," said Diana Keating, one of Principals Connect's advisers.

They brought on an local designer and HGTV star, Jennifer Bertrand, to help with the project.

Diana Keating, Principals Connect adviser

"She’s a former educator, and so this was really exciting for her, because she felt she could re-imagine this into something that could be, kind of an adult oasis," Keating said.

Their goal is to finish the project in one week during spring break. When school is back in session, the space will be transformed.

"We were, like, texting Ms. Deckard, like, "Thank you so much you’re amazing," because we’ve been looking for something, somewhere to go," Jackson said.

It's more than just a spot to relax, it is a reminder to teachers about how valued they are and how they deserve to feel at home, too.

"We make sure everyone’s comfortable, and that’s exactly what we want to feel like in our teachers' lounge," Jackson said.