The transformed teachers’ lounge at Red Bank Regional High School was designed, managed and funded by the RBR PTO in collaboration with the school district. It was unveiled as a special gift to the RBR staff in April at the PTO sponsored Teacher Appreciation Luncheon.
Press release from Red Bank Regional High School
Over the spring break, the Red Bank Regional High School PTO, aided by the RBR maintenance staff and Studio Art students, pulled off a seemingly impossible feat. They totally transformed the RBR teacher’s lounge from a once banal, dreary place, to an oasis in the school building where staff could eat lunch, catch up on work, make some phone calls or just relax during their break for a few moments in a functional, bright, pleasant place.
Just as amazing, they were able to keep the six-month long project a total surprise. On Tuesday, April 22 — at, appropriately, the Teacher’s Appreciation luncheon — a symbolic ribbon was cut as stunned faces walked through the door to their new special space.
Two of the key people that made the renovation a reality are pictured in the rocking chair nook. They are (left to right): PTO member Ida Keiper, Shrewsbury, and Ms. Dulce Feito-Daly, of Little Silver, who donated her Interior Design skills to the project.
“This is the definition of inviting!” exclaimed RBR Creative Writing teacher Dr. Gretna Wilkinson; “it is what you think about on a spring morning when the day is opening its arms to you,” she added.
Science teacher Mark Mancuso remarked, “This was a total surprise, and amazing how they created a whole new space.”
“It’s so uplifting, added English teacher Andrew Forrest, “We are so grateful to the PTO and art students for doing this for us.”
RBR PTO President Ilene Reynolds was delighted to see the astonished, happy faces.
She explained, “Twice a year we hold a teacher appreciation event in this dreary room, which was in dire need of some TLC. We thought this was a great project for the PTO and would provide lasting value and enjoyment for the staff.”
The room was segmented into four separate vignettes, according to PTO project chairperson, Dulce Feito-Daly: (1)The sofa lounge, where you can kick back your feet on an ottoman; (2) a working station with computers; (3) a rocking chair area; and (4) a kitchen and eating area with new sleek, white cabinetry and industrial grade, bright modern white round tables and red chairs.
A special part of the project was contributed by RBR studio art students, who designed and painted bright murals with a Jersey shore and window-view theme. Their teacher worked with Ms. Feito- Daly to create an experiential and graded assignment for the students. The students’ creativity and whimsy was on full display as a red, British-style, old-fashioned phone booth was fashioned around a lone land-line phone which occupied the middle of one wall.
Ms. Feito-Daly comments, “I visited Mrs. O’Connor’s studio art students and presented this as a client would to a commercial art firm, explaining my vision and needs. They created drafts and we went over the project throughout the process.”
“I took the opportunity to impress upon them how their skills could be utilized in a profession serving the commercial and residential real estate markets.”
Ms. Feito- Daly donated her talents and resources as a professional interior designer and project manager. She and fellow PTO member Ida Keiper lead a crew including Mary Chamberlain, Cathy Reardon and Jennie Kralyevich, Michele Fogerty and other dedicated PTO volunteers with much support from the RBR maintenance staff, especially RBR Facilities Manager Manny Pabon, who Dulce explained she had “on speed dial on her phone.”
Ilene Reynolds comments, “Manny and his team worked tirelessly on the planning, demolition, installations room painting and ‘heavy lifting.’ We couldn’t have done this without their fantastic support.”
Since the room infrastructure work was contributed by RBR, The PTO was able to fully fund the rest of the project at a cost of $10,800. Local contractor Thomas Charles Cabinetry donated work on the cabinetry.
Ms. Feito- Daly adds, “On a personal note, I had first got to know many of the staff members when they selflessly pitched in to help the families in our school who lost their homes to Superstorm Sandy. They are the best people and give everything of themselves. The PTO was only too happy to give something back to them.”