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Friday, Mar 24, 2017

Pasco school wins art room makeover from HGTV show

LAND O' LAKES - Art teacher Jill Hallauer will lose control of her classroom for roughly five days in December, but you won't hear her complaining. The art room at Pine View Elementary is in line for a $25,000 makeover courtesy of the HGTV show "Home by Novogratz," which features a Manhattan couple with a flair for design. "People ask me, 'Is this a dream come true?' " Hallauer said. "No. I didn't even dream this." With a nip here and a tuck there — OK, perhaps more than that — Bob and Cortney Novogratz are expected to transform a functional but drab art room into an elementary school showpiece. Then comes the big reveal, when teachers, students and parents see how the couple's vision turned out.
Right now, the room has a typical classroom appearance, with tables and chairs, beige walls and displays of student work. "We are cute; elementary cute," Hallauer said. "They can make it spectacular." Hallauer did not set out to win a $25,000 classroom makeover by TV show design gurus. Neither did anyone else at Pine View Elementary. Six teachers did submit classroom-supply wish lists to the website TeacherWishList.com, which helps teachers tell parents of their supply needs. The website, created by School Family Media, is sponsored by Bounty paper towels. Unbeknown to the six Pine View Elementary teachers, their wish list submissions set greater things in motion: Any school submitting five or more wish lists automatically qualified for a chance to win the makeover. When Principal Judy Cosh and Hallauer learned the school had won, they scanned the notification letter with a mixture of joy and skepticism, dissecting the wording, figuring there must be a catch. Perhaps this was just a variation on one of those "you MAY already be a winner" letters nearly everyone receives at some time or another. There was no catch. They were winners. No "may" about it. "We can't wait to walk in here," Cosh said last week as she eyed the classroom, which is still very much in its "before" state. "I don't think we are going to recognize the space." The coming of the Novogratzes has the school all abuzz. "I think it's nice because I love art," said Josefa Torres, 9, a fourth-grader. "It's the most best thing in the whole world." The infusion of cash is especially symbolic because the arts is an area often targeted for cuts when fiscal times get tough. This year, as the school district faced a revenue shortfall of more than $50 million, parents and students jammed into town hall meetings to urge the school board to keep art, music and drama alive. "Pasco County has been good to the arts," Hallauer said. "Even with the budget cuts they have tried to keep us around." The school isn't sure what to expect when the Novogratzes arrive, but the betting is that the changes will be impressive. "They definitely have an eclectic approach to design," Cosh said. Hallauer was involved in a conference call with the show's representatives and had an opportunity to discuss some of her ideas for transforming the classroom, though she's unsure how much, if any, of her input might be used. Mostly, though, she is interested in classroom additions that would be permanent, such as a projector built into the ceiling, rather than supplies such as crayons and paint that the school's 700 students would use up quickly. Cosh suspects the redesign could lead to a redecorating virus running throughout the school. "I think it's going to inspire other teachers," she said. The creative impulse might not stop at the walls of Pine View Elementary. Hallauer said it could spread to art teachers at other schools when they see the results. No one else, though, will have the advantage of $25,000 and the Novogratzes' expertise. Pine View Elementary isn't the first school to benefit from the couple's design magic. The Novogratzes performed an art room makeover at a New Jersey school last year and renovated the music room at Winegard Elementary in Orlando in March. Pine View students enjoy their time in art class, Assistant Principal Traci Hemingway said. Often, they create artwork on their own at home and want to show Hallauer as soon as they arrive at school. "It's awesome; it's fun," said Madison Shelton, 9, a fourth-grader. "If you said, 'Which would you pick out of music, PE and art,' I would pick art."

rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7065

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