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Paradise Intermediate School (PINT) School Lounge Makeover – The Reveal

“This brings hope. Helping us build back is really important. To make-over this space means a lot to everyone.”

That’s was the reaction from David Smith, president of the Teachers Association of Paradise as the staff at Paradise Intermediate School (PINT) was treated to their new school lounge from California Casualty.

The Camp Fire damaged PINT, forcing it to find a temporary home in a former hardware store, 25 miles away in Chico. Thirty-five PINT employees lost homes in the fire. The hardware building still has aisles and overhanging merchandise signs, but the teachers, administrators and support staff have done the best that they can under the circumstances.

Understanding the incredible stress that PINT administrators, instructors and support personnel have endured, California Casualty, which provides auto and home insurance to CTA and ACSA members, donated a School Lounge Makeover® to offer a more soothing, useful area for PINT employees to take a break, relax and recharge. To keep the warehouse leasable, designers were limited in what they could do.

EON Office designers have been working on the project for months and revealed the finishing touches. The updated lounge has new paint, comfortable furniture, coffee station, dining areas, tables and other accessories, such as artwork, book cases and rugs, to offer a more comfortable and calming environment. It is designed to be relocated to the school in Paradise when repairs there are completed.

“Thank you California Casualty. This school lounge is definitely an uplift, and a much more inviting space,” said PINT electives instructor, Heather Brown.

Educators can learn more about California Casualty’s School Lounge Makeover and enter for one at their school at

8 Simple Ways to Appreciate Teachers (When You Are One)

8 Simple Ways to Appreciate Teachers (When You Are One)

I know, I know. You don’t need someone to tell you how to appreciate teachers when you ARE the teacher; you know how to appreciate your own kind. But have you really attempted to show your support and appreciation for your fellow teachers in your building? If you have, then you’re way ahead of me. If not, then read on.

In the midst of our busy school day, we sometimes forget that there are simple ways we can show our colleagues that we care about and support them. We often need to be reminded that it doesn’t hurt to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for those with whom we spend our days. Teacher Appreciation Week is the perfect time to turn your thoughts into action!

As National Teacher Appreciation Week and National Teacher Day approach, consider showing your coworkers a little love with some of these simple ideas.


Ask for Advice

Soliciting advice from coworkers demonstrates respect. It can also be flattering for the advice-giver. Confide in someone whom you trust and pick their brain. You might like what they have to say and you’ve stroked their ego in the process.


Get Together

Spend time together with other teachers outside of school. Just being present with your fellow teachers sends the message that you care about and support them. Go out for a happy hour drink and appetizers. You might be surprised what you can learn about each other outside of work.



Working together on a common project or idea can help strengthen relationships. You don’t have to immerse yourself into a complicated, time-consuming task. Start small, like how to assess students at the end of a lesson, or what the next hallway bulletin board will look like.


Be “Friends”

No, you don’t have to be besties with all of the teachers in your building. This day in age, simply being “friends” on social media can mean a lot to someone. Many of us post about our personal lives. In many cases, our coworkers have no idea who we are outside of the school day. Getting a glimpse into one another’s personal lives can impact our perspectives of each other in a positive way.


Get Personal

Interact as much as possible with teachers in your building during the school day. Rather than shooting someone a quick email, go see them in person. If you don’t have time for a personal visit, call them on the phone. Tone in an email can often be perceived differently by the reader than what was intended by the writer. Avoid confusion, and its nasty aftermath, with a simple phone call or visit.


Offer to Help

Think of ways you can help your neighboring teacher. Maybe it’s making copies, or watching their class for a few minutes while they take a leisurely restroom break? They will appreciate the favor, and you’ve just earned yourself a few brownie points!


Bring A Teacher Their Favorite Drink

This one’s easy, but costs a few bucks. Find out one of your colleague’s favorite drinks and surprise them with it at school. Hopefully they’ll appreciate the gesture and you’ll feel good about paying it forward (and buying that second drink for yourself)!


Compliment A Coworker

Give a fellow teacher a genuine compliment about their teaching. Also inform your administrator and superintendent using specific examples. This doesn’t happen often enough. Don’t let great teachers go unnoticed!


Thank A Teacher

Join in NEAs 2019 “Thank A Teacher Campaign.” Post on social media using hashtag #ThankATeacher.


What do you do to show support and appreciation for the teachers with whom you work?


Should You Allow Social Media in the Classroom?

Should You Allow Social Media in the Classroom?

Students are hooked on their Smartphones. Just watch a group of teens – how many are typing or swiping something on their phones?

Realizing this phone-addicted reality, many educators are grappling with the idea of allowing students to use their phones for structured classroom projects. If they use phones outside of school, why not allow them to do so in school.

Channeling “Phone Urge”

The way we communicate and get our news is rapidly changing. A number of instructors are now adapting by using social media in their classrooms. Yes, certain sites, like Snapchat and Instagram, can be hard to monitor. However, integrating other social platforms into lesson plans can aids teachers in keeping students engaged. Plus, social media can help them keep up on what is trending to find “teachable moments.” It can also channel students away from using phones for non-instructional use.

Some instructors are now using Twitter to communicate with students and parents about homework, upcoming quizzes and important dates. Others are sending snap quizzes and discussion topics with a Tweet. Research is showing that engaging students via Twitter or other social media helps reduce their urge to become distracted by other platforms while in the classroom.

Teachers are also finding that using memes, GIFs and emojis allow students to express themselves and convey thoughts and feelings in papers and homework assignments that they may have trouble writing about.

There is growing evidence that incorporating smartphones and tablets during lessons can help energize student participation. Many educators are also finding that allowing technology in the classroom presents an opportunity to begin discussions about appropriate and inappropriate social media usage, and the associated dangers.


The NEA has numerous articles about the use of electronic devices and cellphones in schools.

Education Week blogger, Madeline Will, got great response after asking teachers about using social media and to share the memes and GIFS  they’ve employed.

Edutopia has a useful article on 12 Ways Teachers are Using Social Media in the Classroom. It includes creating classroom blogs, sharing school work or news on YouTube, and connecting to other schools through various social media platforms.

For educators still a bit reticent about social media in the classroom, TeachThought has created a wonderful infographic and article about Six Ways Social Media Can Change your Classroom. This reinforces the ideas of learning what students are thinking, knowing what news and cultural things are trending, allowing for easier communication with parents, and globalizing the classroom.

Let’s face it, our world is getting more and more connected. How do you feel about mobile technology in your classroom? If you’ve embraced allowing smartphones in class, what worked and what didn’t? Let us know so that we can share with others.

Resources for this article:

Earth Day Websites and Activities For All Grade Levels

Earth Day Websites and Activities For All Grade Levels

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. This day is a great opportunity to discuss environmental concerns and promote environmental awareness with your students. Check out the following websites and activities for Earth Day resources to use in your classroom.


United States Environmental Protection Agency
Head over to for a variety of Earth Day resources. Learn about the history of Earth Day, watch Earth Day videos, and find out how to be an eco-conscious consumer. Plus, explore classroom project resources and lessons.

PBS LearningMedia
Search a large range of free resources by grade level, subject, and resource type. offers lesson plans, images, videos and more from popular PBS television series.

Teaching History
Find a collection of activities, quizzes and lessons at Students can explore the history of Earth Day, conservation, and other topics related to the environment.

Science NetLinks
Prepare for Earth Day using Science NetLinks lessons and resources. Find teacher-friendly lessons, printables, audio files, videos, interactive and hands-on materials. These resources cover a variety of topics like conservation, ecosystems, ecology, and more.



Host a Solar Cookout
Challenge students to make a solar oven, then have cookout together! Explore alternative energy sources using solar energy. This activity from Scholastic walks you through the process of hosting a solar picnic. You’ll find reading materials, instructions for building a solar oven, free printables, and other resources about solar energy.

Tracking Trash
Students track how much trash is thrown away in the school cafeteria. Using a simple data table, students will identify the types of items thrown away (plastic, foil, paper bags, bottles, banana peels, etc). This information can then be used to create posters to hang in the building encouraging staff and students to recycle or use re-usable lunch items. Take it a step further and start a composting project!

Comparing Light Bulbs
This lesson from asks students to compare compact fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. Students will learn about energy efficiency through this experiment. Grab your light bulbs and thermometer!

50 Earth Day Activities for Kids
TinkerLab’s 50 Earth Day Activities describes kids activities using natural and recycled materials, and creating outdoor art. From building a Fairy Garden to Making Your Own Nature Journal, these Earth-inspired activities will encourage kids to be kind to the planet.



10 Kindness Week Ideas for Schools

Random Acts of Kindness Week is the third week of February, with February 17 designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. Here are 10 ideas for teachers and students that can not only be fun, but help others to spread kindness:

  1. Create a kindness wall or bulletin board where students, teachers and staff can write various acts of kindness others can do and cross them off when they happen
  2. Fill a kindness jar with various random acts of kindness and have students and staff take one to do
  3. Put positive sticky notes on cubbies or lockers
  4. Start a bulletin board dedicated to acknowledging kindness students and staff have seen in the class and around the school
  5. Create and share a kindness calendar with a different act of kindness for every day of the month
  6. Begin a kindness coloring contest with students drawing examples of kindness
  7. Start staff meetings or the school day with an inspiring video such as this one featuring ALS patient Chris Rosati
  8. Have students write a positive story about another student
  9. Start a class or school fundraiser for a charity
  10. Remember to show appreciation to custodians and other support staff

Being kind is infectious; it will spread. Find all sorts of ideas for random acts of kindness you can incorporate into your classroom, school and your community at

Paradise Educators Get A School Lounge Makeover

Despite losing homes and setting up classes in a temporary building 25 miles away in Chico, Paradise Intermediate School (PINT) staff are back at work helping students. The vacant Orchard Supply Hardware store where the school is now housed is not the most inviting environment. Employees have done the best that they can under the circumstances.

California Casualty is gifting the School Lounge Makeover to offer a more soothing, useful area for instructors and support personnel to take a break, relax and recharge.

Principal Cris Dunlap, who is one of 35 PINT staff members who lost a home in the fire, said this offer means so much. “We’ve focused so much on giving students a learning space and place to be with their teachers and friends. As educators, we put others ahead of ourselves. It’s so nice that California Casualty recognizes the valor of our teachers and everything they are doing to keep the district going and keeping kids happy and learning.”

“We’ve seen the dedication of administrators, teachers and staff firsthand and we’re proud to show our appreciation,” said California Casualty Sr. Vice President, Mike McCormick.

Eon Office designers will be work with PINT staff to create the school lounge of their dreams. The finished project will be revealed later this spring. The lounge will be relocated back at Paradise Intermediate School once repairs there are completed. 

Learn more about California Casualty’s School Lounge Makeover at

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