door decorating lead photo

Seventh grade students at Mansfield Middle School decorated their teacher's doors in "A Christmas Carol" theme. The class recently finished reading Dicken's classic tale in language arts.

MANSFIELD – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens came to life in a new way this week at Mansfield Middle School.

Mansfield seventh graders recently read the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, who learns kindness and generosity after three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve.

So when the school announced a winter door decorating contest, the three seventh grade language arts teachers decided to collaborate on A Christmas Carol-themed hallway.

Students decorated their classroom doors during their midday social emotional wellness period, which is new at the school this year. They were not allowed to work on the decorations during academic periods.

“They were far more engaged in this than I think they would have been in most other activities,” said teacher Kathy Phelps. “They knew that there was an end result that they were working towards that tied everything together. And that just seemed to bring them further into the story.”

Students and administrators took time on Wednesday to vote for their favorite door. The winning classes will receive ice cream.

“They are really excited to find out if they won,” teacher Courtney Nabb said Wednesday afternoon. “It's more about the competition, I think, than about the prize.”

Nabb and Phelps said they plan to integrate more hands-on activities and competitions into their curriculum after seeing the students’ response.

“We saw some of them really open up. Some of the more shy kids – I didn't even know some of them were artistic,” Nabb said. “We've both talked about, ‘Can we do a spring door contest? Or can we do something in the hallway to show what we're learning in the future?’”

The Dickensian decorations aren’t the only method teachers have used to get kids excited about their reading.

“We've also done some vocabulary challenges between classes, and it’s helped them get engaged in that more too,” Phelps said. “The competitiveness that came out through this sort of opens our eyes a little bit. Some of these kids who otherwise seem to just check out, if you can touch on that competitive spirit, some of them get re-engaged.”

The Dickens hallway ended up among the competition winners. Others teachers with winning doors were Grace Villanueva, Neil Topovski and Ian Pingitore.

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at