Lakeshore Awards Philadelphia Teacher with Dream Classroom

by Victoria Montoya | Lakeshore Director of Public Relations

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in our Complete Classroom Giveaway Contest’s BIG REVEAL—the moment we presented one deserving teacher with a brand-new classroom! We received thousands of essays from amazing, hardworking teachers across the country, each with a unique story that they hoped would earn them a fully furnished $15,000 classroom.

Meet Ms. Lynch, Grand Prize Winner

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Ms. Lynch is a kindergarten teacher at S. Weir Mitchell Elementary, a 100-year-old school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her essay won our hearts and scored top marks in all criteria from our judges. This kind, talented and incredibly dedicated teacher builds strong connections both inside and outside the classroom. In her winning essay, Ms. Lynch wrote, “I am a huge believer that no teaching can get done without a strong, solid foundation. That foundation is built on trust. Children are more intuitive than adults when it comes to reading people. I need to build authentic relationships with my students before I can teach them.”

The Transformation Begins!

Within hours of sharing the exciting news with Ms. Lynch, our team of classroom design experts was ready to get to work. The new school year was right around the corner, and we wanted Ms. Lynch’s classroom to be ready to welcome a new kindergarten class of bright, young faces.

Ms. Lynch told us she wanted to create a warm, inviting learning space filled with colorful furniture, ample seating and lots of hands-on materials to support her students. She dreamed of having plenty of STEM and sensory materials, a bustling dramatic play center and a comfy, inviting reading area. Our team met with Ms. Lynch and created a custom 3-D layout of her new classroom, complete with a list of products specifically selected for her students.

Bringing the Classroom to Life

And now, without further ado, we’re incredibly excited to share the experience of bringing Ms. Lynch’s dream classroom to life!

Here’s where it all started…

On delivery day, the Lakeshore team took care of everything! They unloaded the boxes, assembled the furniture and set up the materials.

We knew we wanted to add color to brighten the space, so we brought in the A Place for Everyone Classroom Carpet, Rectangular Kids Colors™ Adjustable Tables, Kids Colors™ Stacking Chairs and even some Wobble Chairs to add a flexible seating option. Then we topped each table with coordinating classroom caddies filled with supplies to give students everything they need to create, draw and write. To encourage hands-on learning, we arranged tons of engaging math and language materials in a Classic Birch 20-Cubby Storage Unit.

Creating a Cozy Reading Space

For the perfect chill-out space, we created a relaxing library and listening center consisting of a Classic Birch Help-Yourself Bookstand, cozy pillows and seats, and our Comfy Couch Listening Center. We also filled a Help-Yourself Book Bin Storage Center with a variety of leveled fiction and nonfiction books, including our It’s a Multicultural World! and STEM Stories Hardcover Libraries.

Dramatic Play

Ms. Lynch believes in the importance of play and creative expression.

“I believe that early childhood educators owe it to students to be able to play and explore,” she told us. She especially loves having her students act out their favorite stories.

We created a vibrant dramatic play center to capture the imagination, inspire creativity, and boost language and social-emotional skills. Ms. Lynch’s center includes a Pretend & Play Market, a Butcher-Block Table and Chair Set, a Help-Yourself Dress-Up Center and our Lakeshore Career Costume Set.

To see even more of Ms. Lynch’s classroom transformation, check out this video of all the special moments along the way—including the final reveal of the Complete Classroom!

Seeing the excitement on Ms. Lynch’s and her students’ faces was the only thank-you we could ask for. It was truly a pleasure working with Ms. Lynch and the helpful administration at S. Weir Mitchell Elementary.

On behalf of the entire Lakeshore team, we want to thank Ms. Lynch for all she does to make an impact on the lives of her students. Here’s to the start of an amazing school year. We hope this new space will be enjoyed for many years to come!

Lakeshore is the exclusive provider of the Complete Classrooms® service, which includes complimentary classroom design, delivery and installation for new and expanding school programs throughout the country. To learn more, visit

Classroom Organization: Tips & Tricks from Real Teachers

Posted by JoAnna Rowe | Lakeshore Retail Marketing Manager

Have you started thinking about organizing your classroom for the new school year? It’s hard not to during back-to-school season, right?

To help you set up the best classroom ever, we reached out to a few of our teacher friends in the hopes that they’d share some insider secrets. We hope you find these tips and tricks on classroom organization as helpful as we did!

Michaela, Especially Education

I’ve always dreamed of turning my small special education classroom into the Pinterest-worthy learning space of my dreams, so I was thrilled to discover that my Lakeshore Learning Store had plenty of resources to help me best use my space. It took lots of work (and rearranging), but now my classroom is just right. Here are some tips I learned during my organizing adventures:

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Tip 1: Segment small spaces with room dividers.
On Instagram, I field tons of questions about my Easy-Clean Room Dividers! They keep distractions to a minimum and help segment my small, boxy classroom. Our dividers have endured quite a bit of wear and tear since we purchased them, but they’re still in excellent condition. (They may be lightweight, but they’re also tough!)

These are an absolute must in any special education classroom! They even come in Calming Colors®.

Tip 2: Make storage bins your friends!
One of the easiest ways to bring organization into the classroom is with storage bins. I use bins for just about everything: storing picture books, individualizing independent work, organizing completed work and more. I always consider durability when I purchase classroom items, so Lakeshore bins are the only bins I buy.

Tip 3: Choose fade-resistant paper.
I love bulletin boards, but I despise setting them up. Butcher paper is my archnemesis!

I used Fadeless Paper® back in August, and it lasted all year—so I only had to set up my board once.

And why stop at bulletin boards? I also use Fadeless Paper to hang window banners and decorate my classroom door.

Tip 4: Save time with magnetic letters.
When I discovered this Classroom Magnetic Letters Kit, I knew I had to have it. I love everything about this set: the red vowels, blue consonants, easy-access storage box—and multiples of each letter.

These have saved me so much time—and stress—during small-group instruction since I don’t have to search through a bucket full of jumbled letters.

Marine, Tales from a Very Busy Teacher

A teacher’s work is never done! Even during summer break, I am constantly thinking about ways to rework my classroom. This summer, I’m rethinking my classroom organization with some of my favorite Lakeshore products—and these clever strategies:

Tip 1: Use clear boxes to create classroom centers.
Centers help me keep my classroom routine running smoothly! To create them, I simply label clear bins, fill them with supplies and place them in my classroom library for students to access at any time.

I even have some centers prepped and stored so it will be easy to switch things out as my units change!

Tip 2: Brighten up with neon book bins.
When I saw these Neon Connect & Store Book Bins, my teacher’s heart was so happy. These colors fit my classroom theme and provide a bright feel, and the interchangeable labels make organization easy. They’re also incredibly versatile.

Tip 3: Organize technology with pocket charts.
I love using pocket charts for more than managing assignments! I use the Polka Dots Storage Pocket Chart* to organize classroom technology, including headphones, headphone splitters and more. I even label each pouch so students know exactly where to find materials.

Tip 4: Organize data with pocket charts.
I love using the Chalkboard Brights Pocket Chart* to organize classroom data on an informal level. The chart is my “ticket out the door” system for formative assessments. I set up the pocket chart in an easily accessible location and record the day’s lesson objective in the top space. Then I use bright sentence strips to write those objectives in the form of a question and have students record answers on smaller sentence strips that can be placed right in the chart.

Jodi, Clutter-Free Classroom

To succeed in the classroom and enjoy my work, I seek out ways to save time and get organized! Here are some tried-and-true organization methods that worked well for me as an elementary teacher and continue to make my teaching days run smoothly as a homeschool mom.

Tip 1: Simplify the distribution of materials with supply caddies.
With handy compartments and built-in handles, these caddies make it easy to give students what they need—whether they’re working on the floor, at a desk or at a table. Using caddies is so much easier and faster than having students find and gather items themselves!

Having everything ready and organized will even decrease off-task behaviors and distractions—and increase student engagement and success.

Tip 2: Set up project centers and workstations.
Many teachers think they don’t have the space for project centers and workstations, but Lakeshore’s Heavy-Duty Paper Trays & Lids make organizing and managing centers easy in classrooms where space is limited. Each stackable plastic tray holds papers and supplies, and the lids are perfect for keeping materials contained and organized. I even have my children use the sturdy lids as work mats.

Tip 3: Practice color-coding!
Color can be much more than a decorative touch! Color-coding is a proven method of organization; it makes it easy to find things students need quickly. Here are some color-coding tips:

• Use colored tape on the spines of books and journals.
• Coordinate notebooks, folders and binders to match your color system.
• Use color-coded containers for storage, collecting work and housing related materials.

Who’s ready to start organizing? Click here to find a store near you and plan your visit.

*Available in stores only.