Each year the freshmen walk into my classroom, sit down, look at the ceiling and ask "What happened there?" Over the demonstration table there had built up a soot stain. My usual response was "I have no idea what you are talking about", although eventually they would see the offending demonstrations. The classroom I teach in was built in 1954 and had undergone a couple of changes that had left outlines and markings on the ceiling, as well. Looking out at the physical space, it seemed dingy, it gave the feeling of being uncared for. When I got my teaching and room assignment for the next year and realized that this was going to be my room for quite a while more, I decided that I would paint the ceiling.
I posted a call for "community service hours" on my Facebook and gained several teenage helpers. Of course, once you paint the ceiling you realize that everything else looks dreary. So of course I wound up painting the entire room. My volunteers found paint rolling on the ceiling fun, but brushing the cabinets and walls, not so much, and I found myself facing the painting of 41 cabinets and 41 cabinet drawers and finishing the walls on my own.
Whew! This all took much longer than the three days I had scheduled, but felt worthwhile in the end. The cabinets went from red to green, the walls went to one consistent paler green color, and the ceiling became white. What a difference. Walking into the classroom now, it feels cleaner, calmer, and welcoming. I hope my students like it. I wonder how I will feel when I put the first stain on the ceiling.