By Kevin O’Rourke
As students began class at McNair Elementary in Germantown, they were greeted by a school with a fresh new look at every turn.
Over the summer, every wall in every room, office and hallway of the school located at 13881 Hopkins Road has gotten a fresh new coat of paint, with a new brighter color palate. “It really does feel like a fresh starts for everyone as we start the new school year,” said McNair Principal Sherilyn Moses. “And parents are commenting how exciting just a coat of paint is with that change.”
McNair’s facelift was part of the MCPS plan to upgrade schools, explains Moses, “Our school has been on the list of schools to be painted for a few years,” said Moses, who is starting her first full year at McNair, after taking over as principal eight months ago. “The paint job was result of our building service manager, David Bisphop, really staying on top of things and being aware of what is available in accounting. My building service crew really had to be flexible and they really did a whole lot of extra work to get this project competed.”
The upgrade was not just confined to paint the walls, one of Moses’ favorite features of the new look is a quote famous from Ronald McNair, a physicist and NASA astronaut who was selected to fly two Space Shuttle Missions, he was killed in the Challenger disaster in 1986. The quote, “Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. You’re eagles! Stretch your wings and fly to the sky,” is written along the beams of one of the main hallways.
“We really wanted to get this quote in the hallway,” explains Moses, “because it is one of the quotes that Ronald McNair is famous for and we tell the kids all the time, ‘spread your wings and fly.’”
The only drawback to the new paint, according to Moses, was that the walls may seem bare to students as school starts. "Our challenge is that we can’t post anything on our walls until the middle of September, because the paint has to cure for a month. So the walls may not be decorated as parents and students are used, but they will be, we just need to wait," said Moses.
The other big change was to the mural of an astronaut in space which greets visitors in the main hallway. Over the summer, the large mural was removed from the wall and placed in a custom built frame by a Montgomery County Public Schools staff carpenter. “Now, the mural is mounted on the wall and we are able to paint around it. While it is not new, it is updated,” said Moses.
The wall behind the mural used to be completely black to simulate space, now with the mural in a frame, the wall is light blue. “It really brightens up the hallway, using the light blue rather than having this entire wall be black,” said Assistant Principal Amanda Dali.
The hallways and classrooms, including the gymnasium and multi-purpose room were painted. Even the bathrooms got a fresh coat of paint, blue for boys and pink for girls.
All the classrooms are painted white with one teal accent wall. No room in the school was left unpainted even the offices got a new look. The McNair offices are now purple, including Principal Moses office which is not purple and teal.
“While these may not be my favorite colors, but I wanted my accent wall to be teal just like the classroom. The rest of the walls are purple like the office. So it ties together the classrooms and offices. I am happy because it is much more cozy and inviting than it used to,” she said.
Inviting is also the reason for the mural outside the principal’s office, which features welcoming and friendly phrases to entreat students, parents and staff to visit Moses office, which is at the end of hallway. She explained that because of the layout of the offices, staff and students do just walk past her office, Moses wanted something that said, “Come back and say, hello.”
“When we got everything painted, we wanted something that really drew people back to the offices,” said Moses. “I wanted the walls to good morning to our staff and students and welcome folks back to our offices, using phrases and statements that use around the school all the time such as ‘We always have a minute.’ A staff favorite is, “Have a piece of candy,” because we always refill the candy dish.”
Top: Ronald McNair Elementary School Principal Sherilyn Moses and Assistant Principal Amanda Dali with the new look mural in the school's main hallway.
Next: The Quote Hallway, which features a quote from Ronald McNair painted across the beams.
Next: The Boys and Girls Rooms, festooned in appropate colors.
Next: The welcome quote inviting vistors to "Say Hi" at the Princpal's office.
Next: A newly painted Kindergarten classroom.
Next: A fresh new hallway.
Bottom: Even the gymnasium at McNair got a new coat of paint.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.