Altamonte teacher gets classroom makeover for hearing-impaired students

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – One Seminole County teacher won a dream classroom makeover thanks to Addition Financial's Renovate to Educate program.

Krista Phelps-Elliott teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Altamonte Elementary. 

"Krista had the highest-scoring essay we've seen in two years," said Valerie Moses, senior relationship manager with Addition Financial. "A big component of education is having a classroom that's conducive to learning, and so through this program, we're able to do just that and give them the classroom of their dreams."

Additon partners with Seminole State College's design program. This project is a paid internship for the design students. Acede Clarke began the design process by interviewing Phelps-Elliott about her ideal space.

"I envision a fun color on the wall, preferable like a pale blue. A nice, cool shade of blue, something that boosts creativity. Definitely better seating for the teacher," Clarke said.

Phelps-Elliott said she has some special requirements because her students are hearing-impaired. First, she says the students work best in a semi-circle design so they can easily see her and each other. She also requested a visual alert system be installed in the classroom.

"So if we could have some sort of flashing light system, that'd be great because then everyone will look at me. I have to always give examples of what a deaf world is like, so it's fun when I talk to other people and they get to experience that and see the reality," Phelps-Elliott said.

Phelps-Elliott says unlike a traditional classroom, most of her students stay with her through elementary school. 

"This is our home. We are a family and we are together for six or seven years. So we are together for a long time so they need to feel comfortable and feel at home as well, so that's important," she said.

The classroom makeover will be completed over the summer and revealed just before the start of the new school year.

About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.