MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When schools reopen in Blount County, one teacher and her students will be back in a classroom that’s been transformed.

Kristel Owenby’s two-room special education classroom at William Blount High School’s Ninth Grade Academy got a makeover to create a unique learning space.

“Oh my gosh!” Owenby said upon the big reveal. Her protective mask didn’t hide her surprise and joy as she entered her room.

Since March, teams from Kingdom Design Ministries and Workspace Interiors have been spinning their magic.

“When we heard about the opportunity, we jumped at it. We couldn’t wait,” Amy Cradic, director of design at Workspace Interiors, said.

They transformed a drab art supply area into bright, inviting organized cabinets.

KDM’s founder, Missy Johnson tells Kristel, “everything’s color-coded.”

Old, crowded cubbies are replaced by a neat row of lockers; a better fit for ninth graders.

But this room is just one part of one amazing project.

“We decided to split the project into the learning side for the classroom and then make this the sensory side for the student experience,” Johnson said.

The other part of the learning environment is full of warm, calming colors, whimsical lights, a funky fish tank, and a couch shaped like a canoe; a comforting space for a child with special needs.

It’s Kristel’s favorite.

“The little houses,” she says, “the little nooks, and just how that little area is so, just calming. That area is amazing.”

The project took 700 donated hours, and more than $35,000 worth of furnishings, all provided at no cost to the school.

It’s a safe learning environment that is designed to stand the test of time.

“What that allows us to do is help multiple children for years into the future so we are leaving a legacy,” Owenby said. “I had no words. I was just dumbfounded. I really was.”

Kingdom Design Ministries takes on projects to help improve the lives of children with special needs.
Families or businesses needing help fill out an application on the nonprofit’s website. They lock arms with community businesses and volunteers like Workspace Interiors to make things happen.

To apply or make a contribution to KDM, go to: