Bus driver turns hallways into stunning works of art at Colfax Elementary School

What's Right with Our Schools

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The hallways at Colfax Elementary School look more inviting to students these days, thanks to Marcus Thompson.

He’s actually a school bus driver but when the pandemic hit, the bus drivers were asked to find work at their schools.

On his first day, he checked in with principal Julie Kimsey.

“She asked me if I could paint, and, you know, kind of laughingly I sent her a kind of a smart-alecky little answer, you know, said, ‘Yeah, I can paint your house, your car. I could even paint you a reasonable facsimile of a Monet if you needed it,'” said Thompson.

He wasn’t kidding.

In the days since, he’s been designing and painting the hallways of the school which, in some ways, is a bit ironic for him.

“You know, I was a poor student in my elementary career through high school, because I spent most of my time in class just drawing. You know that same report card almost every year for my whole career in secondary education, which said, ‘Marcus could be so much if he would just apply himself and stop drawing in class.'”  

But he found a way to use his talent, ending up with a career in graphic services. Now a bus driver at Colfax, his designs have ranged from inspirational sayings to others that were a little more challenging.

According to Thompson, “Well the pencils proved to be an interesting or a difficult proposition at first because we really only had three different colors of paint to use. And luckily in our 15 cans of house paint, I had a real dark brown that I could tint each of those colors with to give me the appearance of a darker shade of that color. And also obviously we had a white to tint. So I had to build each of these colors for the pencils to make them look three dimensional.” 

They’re creations Ms. Kimsey knows the students will love.

“I wanted the kids to come back in the building to feel even more welcoming and warm than it did before,” she said. “We have a great building. We have a wonderful facility. We’re very lucky about that. But there’s always things that can be improved. And if we can add some more color and some more interest, and while also having a positive message, that’s all the more. And ‘Hello, sunshine,’ how could you go wrong with that?”

For Thompson, it has been work like no other. 

“It’s been a joy,” he said. “A labor of love certainly.”

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