Seminole State students design classroom for deaf children

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Azubah "Acede" Clarke (left) interviews Krista Phelps-Elliott to better understand her unique needs for her classroom.

Watch WKMG’s report to see the students in action!

In partnership with Addition Financial, Seminole State College of Florida students are already putting their education to good use by designing classrooms for deserving teachers across four Central Florida counties. In Seminole County that teacher is Krista Phelps-Elliott who was chosen by Addition Financial to receive $2,000 to renovate her classroom to better serve the deaf and partially deaf students she teaches. 

Seminole State students Azubah “Acede” Clarke and Marina Crossman volunteered with the Renovate to Educate contest to get hands-on experience as part of the Interior Design program. They got to meet Phelps-Elliott and visit her classroom to understand the unique challenges the group faces and lay the groundwork for their initial designs.

The first steps the students take to design the room is called the programming stage, which includes client interviews, field measurements and sketching the layout of the space. “We like to get the client’s needs and wants to help us better execute the end result. That is what programming is all about, gathering as much information for the project as we can,” said Clarke. 

Clarke sat with Phelps-Elliott to interview her and discuss her biggest issues and what special considerations her students would need. Some of Phelps-Elliott’s most urgent needs revolve around adding more storage and furniture that was easy to rearrange and get out of the way. “They only hear what they see,” Phelps-Elliott said, referring to her students who mostly communicate through sign language. “If their vision is blocked they are not getting the message.” 

Marina Crossman takes a photo of the classroom on her phone to use as reference when designing the space later.

Seminole State’s Interior Design program incorporates classes about barrier-free design for those with autism as well as designing around issues of aging, physical disabilities and more. “Projects in school are more factitious. We make up our clients and in class there are criteria we have to meet,” said Crossman, who oversaw getting the initial measurements for Phelps-Elliott’s classroom. “Here, there are issues and we have to figure out solutions to fix them. It is challenging, but exciting.” 

After gathering the initial information, the students will use it within their drafting software to come up with different ideas for the space. Clarke and Crossman stressed how important it was that they were working as a team on the classrooms since one person may think of something that the other would miss. In May, they will present the designs to Addition Financial to determine which they will execute and see through until its completion at the end of summer when the updated classrooms will be revealed. 

This is the second year interior design students from Seminole State teamed up with Addition Financial, the College’s preferred credit union, to provide classroom makeovers for deserving teachers and their students through Renovate to Educate. 

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit
Get social with us:

 #SSC #GoStateGoFar 


About Addition Financial

Founded in 1937 by 23 educators, Addition Financial serves more than 150,000 members. With more than $1.74 billion in total assets, Addition Financial offers its members an array of financial products and services at 22 full-service branches, nine high school branches, and more than 40 ATMs. Anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake Counties may become a member. Qualified businesses and other entities may join as well. Addition Financial is the Official Financial Institution of the UCF Knights and owns the naming rights to the Addition Financial Arena on the University of Central Florida campus. Addition Financial is also the Preferred Credit Union for Seminole State College.