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2 MJHS Seniors Give Back
Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Mt. Juliet High School seniors are leaving behind something that will help special education students learn about the United States for years to come.

Claire Burgett and Paige Ronsen, along with the help of Art Teacher Derek Elwell and parent Karla Reichert, have created a textured map of the United States for the special education students at Mt. Juliet Middle School.


MJMS Special Education Teacher Lisa Haskell had put in a grant for several different things for her classroom, but one of them was a textured map of the United States. Haskell said that this makes it easier for her kids to learn about certain things when they are able to touch it.

She talked with one of her students’ parents, Reichert, about helping her find one.

“I was hoping we could buy this on the internet,” said Reichert. But there wasn’t one to be found.

Haskell, whose mother works at MJHS, eventually got in touch with Elwell and the Art class to see if that would be something they could do. Elwell approached Burgett and Ronsen, who are AP students, because they were way ahead on their AP portfolio.

“It seemed like a really awesome idea,” said Ronsen, who is going to UT-Chattanooga to study special education with a minor in art. It made the perfect project for her.

Instead of each state just being random textures, the group decided to make each texture unique to the state. Tennessee was made with a coonskin cap, Kentucky was a basketball, Michigan was made from tires, Nevada was playing cards, South Carolina was sea shells, on and on. Utah was made with tiles.

“We wanted to use tiles, and Utah is kind of square,” said Burgett.

The map not only pops with the different textures, but colors as well. Texas is made with Spanish moss, but is painted bright pink.

“It’s what happens when you put girls in charge of things,” said Ronsen.

The experience has challenged the two by having to use lots of problem solving, thinking creatively, while also thinking about it how it was going to help the students learn.

“They have probably learned more from this project than anything they have done in here,” said Elwell.

The map will be finished this week, and it will hopefully be up and mounted for the students get to see it on the last day of school.