A warmer learning environment

JMS adaptive skills classroom gets a face lift

Linda Peters, a special education paraprofessional, assists an adaptive skills student at Jemtegaard Middle School. The classroom was recently upgraded, thanks to a $2,000 grant from Umpqua Bank. Buy this photo

Before an unexpected renovation over winter break, the adaptive skills classroom at Jemtegaard Middle School looked more like a kitchen.

White walls, salmon pink cabinets and cold tile floors were the prime features of the room, which was formerly used for home economics classes. Its location at the school also meant the infamous east Gorge wind blowing through, and without a carpet, things got cold.

“Having a carpet and paint makes the room warmer in environment and more pleasant to look at,” said Ron Carlson, JMS principal. “It’s very calming and the carpet reduces a lot of noise.”

The renovations were funded with a $2,000 grant from Umpqua Bank. Jenny Danley, a parent of a adaptive skills student, clicked “like” on Umpqua Bank’s Facebook page during a “Give Back to School Fund,” drive. Every ‘like’ generated $1 for the fund, totalling $20,000.

Jemtegaard Middle School in Washougal was randomly selected as one of the winners. In December, associates from the Washougal branch visited the school to present the check to several faculty and staff members.

“I love that it happened this way,” Carlson said. “It’s been a push that Jemtegaard has worked on, how we can community partner. This was a nice surprise.”

Lou Peterson, adaptive skills teacher, described the room before the cosmetic touches. “It was tile and an ungodly pink color to the walls,” he said. “It is very nice now. There are new chairs, carpeting and paint. It is better for the kids and makes it much warmer.”

He and special education paraprofessionals Linda Peters, Icela Maldonado and Ruthann Johnson teach students with a host of special challenges, from mild to severe.

“It’s nice to have a ‘home’ for them,” Peterson said.