Mailboxes and teepees

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Cooper Elementary School third-grade teacher Collin Boekhoff negotiates the door as he carries a mail box cabinet his father made for his classroom. Classes start for students on Aug. 27.

Cooper Elementary School third-grade teacher Collin Boekhoff had a little trouble getting one of the new items for his classroom through the door Tuesday.

It wasn’t that the mailbox he brought was too big, it fit just fine. It was getting the door open with his foot since his hands were both in use holding it up.

It’s custom.

“I knew I wanted a sturdier mailbox than what I could buy,” he said. “So I asked my dad to make to make me one, he gladly did it.”

His dad, Jeff Boekhoff, did a beautiful job.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Duncombe Elememtary kindergarten teacher Maria Lehman enjoys the interior of her classroom teepee Tuesday as she works on getting her room ready for students.

“There’s some handy craftsmanship right there,” Collin Boekhoff said as he admired it once inside.

This marks his second year in the same room. He’s completely redoing it.

“I wanted to try a different layout,” he said. “See how it worked.”

The new and different layout has been carefully thought out.

“I started as soon as the past year ended,” he said. “I spent all summer thinking and buying some of the things I needed to make the vision. Now it’s just putting it together.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Duncombe Elementary School kindergarten teacher Brooke Mosher unfolds a set of colorful fabrics that will become part of the wall decor in her classroom Tuesday.

There are larger goals involved in the planning.

“Anything I have up I want it to be useful for them,” he said. “I’ll be putting up a lot of their work too. Seeing their work up there helps them realize my teacher is proud and wants to share it with everybody. You want them to feel like it’s their classroom. It’s more their space than mine.”

School starts for the students on Aug. 27.

At Duncombe Elementary, Maria Lehman was preparing her kindergarten room.

“My room is super cute,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Cooper Elementary School third-grade teacher Collin Boekhoff works on setting up his classroom Tuesday. Boekhoff spent the summer planning the new decor in his room.

Lehman, who had spent the past five years in a leadership position, elected to go back into the classroom this year.

“I’m starting over, so I’m working from scratch,” she said. “I missed it. I missed working with the kids.”

She wasn’t sure how many hours she had spent getting things ready. It’s not just decor; colorful pillows, fun science things, the inflatable red dinosaur and a kindergarten student sized teepee — there’s also planning, getting work sheets ready and learning about her new students.

She’s 99 percent done.

“Setting up was fun,” she said. “I’m hoping to be done today. We have a new teacher that will need some help and one that’s expecting a baby.”

Brooke Mosher is on her second year of teaching kindergarten in the new Duncombe building. Most of her room was already set up. She just had to adjust a few things and make a few changes.

“I’m excited to meet the new kiddos,” she said.

She does have plenty to do though.

“I need to get supplies ready for the students,” she said. “Every student has their own space. I also get the privileged of sending notes home to the parents. There’s always some changes.”

It’s very common for teachers to spend their own funds on supplies, decorations and other things for their classrooms. Mosher, Lehman and Boekhoff are among those.

They care for their students, deeply.

“This classroom is like my family away from home,” Mosher said. “They’re not just my students, they’re my kids.”

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