Desiree Limkeman, a 2011 tornado survivor and second-grade teacher at College Heights Christian School, has won a classroom makeover and redesign from Velcro Cos.
"We're so excited, we can hardly stand it," she told the Globe.
Limkeman and her husband, Tim, were left homeless after the May 22, 2011, tornado destroyed their house near the old Joplin High School. They have since bought land in Carl Junction and are wrapping up construction of their new home, installing grass, painting walls and laying down the floors.
Limkeman ultimately turned her situation into a lesson for her students, bringing them along for the steps in rebuilding.
"Anytime that we do something new out at that house, the kids know about it," she said. "And as soon as it's done, we will have an open house and include all the kids that I've had."
Limkeman was selected as the winner of the nationwide contest by Sabrina Soto, a design and lifestyle expert and brand ambassador for Velcro Cos.
"We received so many inspirational and deserving entries, but Mrs. Limkeman's dedication to her students throughout the community's tragic natural disaster completely stood out," Soto said in a statement. "It's been several years, but the town of Joplin still has a long recovery, and we wanted to honor the efforts of someone who continually puts others' needs first."
Limkeman's nomination came from parent Eddie Grundy.
"Mrs. Limkeman not only inspires our daughter, Hannah, to learn and do her best, she exemplifies a humble nature and a commitment to going above and beyond for her students," he said in a statement. "She lives these principles inside and out, and that is exactly what every parent wants in a role model for their children."
Velcro Cos. launched the contest in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, which was celebrated across the country earlier this month. The classroom makeover will include Velcro brand products and other materials, the company said.
"We wanted to do something special for our nation's educators, and encourage teachers, students and individuals to nominate a teacher who truly deserves a redesigned space," Julie Barry, director of global brand for Velcro Cos., said in a statement. "Our company is focused on improving education to develop tomorrow's leaders and innovators, and this exciting program is part of our work to enhance learning environments here at home and around the globe."
For more information
Velcro Cos. and Sabrina Soto will showcase Desiree Limkeman's redesigned classroom on velcro.com and via the company's social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. A spokeswoman said a timeline for the makeover has not yet been completed, but it is expected to be within the next few months.