Words of inspiration, color added to hallways at Poplar Bluff Middle School

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KBSI) – When students walked through the doors of the Poplar Bluff Middle School for the 2023-2024 school year, they saw more than a dozen new murals.

Administrators spent their free time over the summer adding words of inspiration and color to the long hallways of the Victory Lane campus in an effort to offer encouragement to students.

Since the end of May, about 20 murals have been either spray painted or wrapped throughout the facility. Each mural was completed in a day or so.

Josh Teeter just entered his fourth school year as principal of the middle school. He estimates his team may be about a quarter of the way into fulfilling their vision of making the “walls talk.”

“This summer after work I would bring some paint clothes, and once I got my work done, I would climb up on the ladder,” said Teeter, admitting that sitting still is not in his nature. When asked about the time commitment, he replied: “It has taken a lot of time away from home, but a principal’s job is never-ending; a good principal is always thinking about school, whether at home or at work.”

Assistant Principal Shelly Ridens started using her personal Cricut machine to add quotes over the murals so they are “not just art,” said Teeter.

Karmen Carson was promoted to assistant principal in July and began pitching in as well.

“This all started with Dr. Teeter designing the murals, and then I jumped on the projects after him with words, motivational sayings/quotes, reminders, et cetera,” Ridens explained. “…Education is still a passion of mine and I want each and every student to be excited at school, feel safe and loved, and get the very best from us while here.

Examples of the sayings include, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible.’” Building themes are also highlighted, such as patriotism, with the school’s longstanding Veterans Day parade tradition – or the game of chess which is a nod to the middle school’s Chess Club.

“This gives you the opportunity to signify the character traits we want our kids to focus on,” Teeter said. “I can talk about growth mindset on the announcements each morning, or tell them every week about it in a newsletter, or I can pin it out front for every time they walk the hall. They’ll see that eventually.”

Future plans include possibly soliciting a local artist to design a professional mural. The art department also intends on creating a new ceramic tile collage featuring a contribution from the entire student body.

Teeter’s original vision was to research a few concepts on YouTube in order to lay the foundation, then “pass the torch” to the Junior Beta Club or Student Council. His ultimate goal is to launch a school beautification club over which he serves as adviser for the students.

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