PTSO Members, From left to right: Mimi Advani, Catherine Maruna, Chanda James, Nikki Grant, Alyssa Tephford, Stefanie Tephford. Photos by Jen Russon.

By: Jen Russon

The Parent Teacher Student Organization at Marjory Stoneman Douglas remodeled their outdated teacher’s lounge, giving it a dramatic makeover that will allow teachers to decompress, eat, or plan their day.


PTSO President, Chanda James said her crew of eight volunteers spent the summer refurbishing the lounge with new furniture, fresh paint, murals, and Keurig coffee machines.

As James and others prepared the sleek new tables for a catered staff lunch on Monday, she opened up about the vast improvement the lounge has undergone.

“This room used to look horrible – just sad, so we did a poll at the school, and the results helped us come up with the idea to make a more cheerful, multi-purpose space,” said James whose daughter, Kylie is a 10th grade student at the school and son, Noah, a 2018 graduate.


A wedding planner, James hopes the renovated multi-purpose teacher’s lounge encourages students and parents both to meet in the space at their teachers’ invitation and for MSD staff to consider conducting their smaller board meetings there.

Before the unveiling, James was excited to gauge the reaction of the teachers after they took a break from preparing their classrooms. As part of the event, the PTSO prepared a special lunch from Annie’s Pizza in the new lounge.

The interior designer behind the room’s new look, James helped to choose the soft gray sofas, area rugs, yellow accent pillows, and end tables, as well as mini-topiary centerpieces on the pinewood tables — giving the room a natural feel.

“I thought our school colors, with all the burgundy, could use a pop of color, so I picked out a lot of yellow. We were lucky to get a big discount from City Furniture and Wizard Creations,” she said.

James is no stranger to makeovers: while president of the Westglades Middle School PTA in Parkland, she led the effort to remodel the media center in 2016.

PTSO recording and corresponding secretaries Stefanie Tephford and Catherine Maruna explained that the price of what these renovations cost is not yet available, but that their organization was extremely grateful to the two companies mentioned above for applying deep discounts.


Wizard Creations, who supplied the inspirational murals for the lounge, is the same company who made the embattled high school, their MSD Strong banners, and shirts.

Referring to the February 2018 school shooting, stoically, as “the incident,” James said she hopes the new teacher’s lounge is a place where Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s Eagle community can congregate in peace, move forward and just feel happy.

“To make this a happy place was our goal, and I think we achieved it.” 



Author Profile

Jen Russon
Jen Russon
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.

Tara David