Mural Project

Principal leads voluntary effort over summer to make ‘walls talk’
Posted on 09/12/2023
A student passes a new mural while walking along the front addition of the Middle School building.

Poplar Bluff Middle School administrators spent their free time over the summer adding words of inspiration and color to the long hallways of the Victory Lane campus in an effort to offer encouragement to students.

Beginning at the end of May, about 20 murals have been either spray painted or wrapped throughout the facility, each one knocked out in a day or so. Entering his fourth school year as principal, Dr. Josh Teeter estimates his team may be about a quarter of the way into fulfilling their vision of making the “walls talk.”

“This summer after work I would bring some paint clothes, and once I got my work done, I would climb up on the ladder,” recalled Teeter, admitting that sitting still is not in his nature. When asked about the time commitment, he replied: “It has taken a lot of time away from home, but a principal’s job is never-ending; a good principal is always thinking about school, whether at home or at work.”

Once Teeter started the project, Assistant Principal Shelly Ridens “kind of got the bug,” he noted, and started using her personal Cricut machine to add quotes over the murals so they are “not just art,” he said. Since Karmen Carson was promoted to assistant principal in July, Teeter added, she began pitching in as well.

“This all started with Dr. Teeter designing the murals, and then I jumped on the projects after him with words, motivational sayings/quotes, reminders, et cetera,” Ridens explained. “…Education is still a passion of mine and I want each and every student to be excited at school, feel safe and loved, and get the very best from us while here.

Examples of the sayings include, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible.’” Building themes are also highlighted, such as patriotism, with the school’s longstanding Veterans Day parade tradition – or the game of chess, as a nod to the Middle School’s popular Chess Club.

“This gives you the opportunity to signify the character traits we want our kids to focus on,” Teeter elaborated. “I can talk about growth mindset on the announcements each morning, or tell them every week about it in a newsletter, or I can pin it out front for every time they walk the hall. They’ll see that eventually.”

Teeter pointed out how the smaller elementary schools are “bursting with color,” while the lengthy hallways of the Middle School “looked blank, and that can be intimidating for a kid.” Future plans include possibly soliciting a local artist to design a professional mural. The Art Department also intends on creating a new ceramic tile collage featuring a contribution from the entire student body.

“It’s a lot of little things that make a big thing,” Teeter continued. His original vision was to research a few concepts on YouTube in order to lay the foundation, then “pass the torch” to the Junior Beta Club or Student Council. His ultimate goal, Teeter said, is to launch a school beautification club over which he serves as adviser for the students, “because ultimately this is their school,” he concluded.


Cutline: A student passes a new mural while walking along the front addition of the Middle School building, formerly the High School campus, on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

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