For three teachers in Billings Montana, creative arts is part of a unique classroom management style.

When you enter Washington Elementary, the walls literally jump out. Students’ pictures decorate the hallways. There’s a new mural inside the front door. And classrooms have their own custom paint decor, designed by teachers.



While the visual changes are most noticeable, teachers say they are the least of changes that came about by adopting methods practiced by a private school in Georgia, the Ron Clark Academy.

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“It’s not about the painting. It’s not about the walls. It’s not about the stage,” said kindergarten teacher Melissa Soucy. “It’s about the passion for every teacher and how they bring it into the classroom in their own way.”

Soucy led the students in a counting exercise as she sat on a stage with students surrounding her on the floor.  They drummed on the stage with their hands as they counted numbers. She is district coach for a hands on science program, and her walls look like chemistry illustrations.  These are all unique Ron Clark hallmarks.

According to principal Deedee Larson, the physical environment such as the mural really do help students.  “I just wanted this ‘pop’ — this kind of a ‘wow,’” she said, “so when you walk in the front door (kids) are like, ‘This is the place I want to be.’”

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