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Staff Breakroom Makeovers

Make good health a part of everyday life for your faculty and staff by providing them with an on-campus retreat where they can relax. A well-equipped staff and teacher lounge can contribute to lower stress levels, helping to keep them healthy and engaged.

Why are break rooms essential to school well-being?

  • A break room provides a space to relax and recharge during the school day. School break rooms can create environments that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
  • A warm, welcoming break room is a way to show hardworking school staff and teachers they’re valued and appreciated, which boosts morale and job satisfaction.
  • Healthy and fulfilled school staff are able to perform at their best and have fewer sick days.

Who can lead a break room makeover?

  • Principals, school administrators, teachers, and school staff
  • Parents, community members, and local organizations

Things to consider

  • It’s important that you gain the proper approval before you begin the makeover. Connect with the principal.
  • Other key parties to engage include teachers and school staff, facilities and maintenance staff, and labor union representation.

Important initial steps

  • Get approval from the principal and/or administrators. If your school doesn’t have a break room, be creative with unused space that could be repurposed.
  • Seek input from teachers, staff, and administrators about what they’d most like to see in their break room.
  • Identify a point person to act as the break room champion for this project. They’ll communicate with key individuals and groups to keep the project organized and moving forward.
  • Begin by assessing what items the break room already has, and identify any items that need to be replaced.
  • Based on staff and teacher interests and the break room assessment, map out your plan for the staff room makeover. Remember: Work with facilities and maintenance staff and school administrators early in the planning of the project.

“More teachers are now using the lounge to enjoy lunch and take a break. The remodel has provided our staff with a relaxing atmosphere that is conducive to building relationships and sharing ideas, which in turn promotes student achievement.”

Organizing your space

Below, you’ll find ideas for making the most of the staff and teacher break room space, along with a list of potential items to include. We know that space and funds can be limited, so many of these ideas are low- or no-cost. Even a few small changes, such as a fresh coat of paint and some wellness posters, can make a big difference.

School teachers sitting at table having discussion

Encourage healthy eating & active living

  • Have a healthy potluck for teachers and staff.
  • Hang a bulletin board to display upcoming staff wellness offerings and healthy activities in the community (5K race, cooking class, farmers market, etc.).
  • Take photographs of teachers and staff “thriving” and hang them around the break room to give it a personal feeling and encourage healthy living.
  • Put up posters showing instructions for basic exercises and how to use exercise equipment.

Added touches

  • Water dispenser
  • Yoga ball
  • Yoga mat
  • Free weights
  • Resistance bands
School teachers having lunch at table

Improve functionality

  • If possible, keep office equipment in a separate room from the lounge area to maintain a relaxing space. Utilize storage space to keep papers and supplies organized.
  • Arrange tables and chairs in a way that encourages communal eating and interaction.
  • Refresh outdated or worn cabinetry by sanding and painting or staining the surfaces and replacing the hardware.

Added touches

  • Couch, armchairs
  • Table, lamps
  • Paint
  • Bookshelf
Woman sitting at desk thinking

Promote relaxation

  • Enlist parents and community partners to help design and paint murals on the walls.
  • Provide comfortable seating beyond the dining chairs.
  • Consider an iPod®dock, stereo, or sound machine to create a welcoming environment.
  • Switch from overhead fluorescent lighting to softer light from table and floor lamps.
  • Add a small room divider to separate the “active” parts of the room from areas that foster relaxation.

Added touches

  • Plants
  • Music machine
  • Fan

Where to get supplies and furnishings

  • Office supply or home goods stores — some companies may offer discounts for schools. Consider utilizing any vendor relationships that already exist within your school or district, or partnering with local businesses.
  • Solicit donations from the community.
  • Visit local discount or secondhand stores.
  • Teachers and staff may want to contribute items of their own, such as plants and pictures, to make the space more personal.
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