While students were enjoying their summer vacations, teachers and staff at Warren Middle School Forney ISD in Texas were busy at work in the school bathroom.
Educators came in on their own time over the summer break to transform an ordinary middle school bathroom into a bright, positive space. Drawing inspiration from social media, the teachers painted positive messages on each bathroom stall.
"A lot of them address things that we hear on a day-to-day basis: 'Everyone else's life's perfect' or 'They get this, and I don't get that,'" said the school's Assistant Principal Kristy Mach.
The messages encourage students to be themselves.
"One of the goals was to create a culture of positivity and welcoming to our students, a place that our students and teachers want to be a part of and want to come to each and every day," the school's new principal, Joshua Garcia, explains.
The school hopes the uplifting messages create a space of support and love for middle schoolers who may be struggling or feeling alone.
"Middle school is rough, so sometimes you don't have that drive that our kids have. In the past we've had difficulties where our kids need motivation and, 'Why should I come?' or 'What should I do?'" Mach said. "I feel like everything on our campus is going to be more effective because the kids have a reason to be here and a drive to be here. They want to be here."
Just a few weeks into the school year, the culture of positivity has spread. Mach said students can feel a difference.
One of the original schools to use this technique was Mary Moore Elementary. Parents pitched in to create works of art in the bathrooms and throughout the school. Principal Jones is thrilled that other schools have taken on similar projects.
"Our kids need to know that when they are in school that they are loved and cared for, and this is just one more way that we show it," says Jones.