Teacher builds ‘bench of opportunities’ for first grade classroom

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 12:18 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The first day of school is still a few weeks away, but many teachers have spent the entire summer getting ready for the new school year.

For many, that means spending their own money to add new things to their classroom from books to furniture. It can add up quickly. One Bismarck elementary teacher said she’s spent hundreds of dollars getting her classroom ready.

But Kelly Suchy has also found way to add one big item for next to nothing.

Kelly Suchy knows the importance of measuring twice and cutting once. She doesn’t have much material to spare. She used pieces of an old memory foam mattress to make cushions for benches she and her husband, Ben, are building for her classroom.

“She asked me if we can make it and I we have a little pile of scrap wood, so I thought we can try at least,” recalled Ben.

“I see it as a ‘bench of many opportunities,’” explained Kelly.

It’s an opportunity to clean out the garage and use some things they’ve been saving for a project like this.

“This is an old cabinet door,” said Ben, pointing to a piece of wood.

“This is some fabric I’ve had for different classroom things, and I think I have enough for two bench cushions,” said Kelly.

They plan to paint the benches white, using paint leftover from other projects.

“They’ll look good,” Ben promised.

Kelly hopes these benches will provide opportunities for her students too; opportunities to curl up with a good book, to calm down and to play games with friends.

“First grade is a lively year in school. You’re playing games, you want to learn in different spots in the room. It’s an active day and it’s nice to have options available around the room,” she said.

And she hopes these benches will make her classroom a little more welcoming and help students settle in for a year of first grade.

So far, Ben and Kelly have only had to purchase one piece of plywood for the benches. The rest of the materials are all things they had on hand.

Kelly is still hoping to find the perfect casters to put on the benches so they’re easy to move around her classroom.

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