By Josh Saunders
Harry Potter super-fan’s spellbinding transformation for classroom turning it into $2,000 Hogwarts replica to engage pupils
Kyle Hubler, 28, Oregon city in Oregon, USA, spent 70 hours over five-weeks during the summer giving his classroom in Evergreen Middle School a magical make-over to rival the wizarding world.
He installed banners with the four main house crests, candles that hang from roof painted like a starry night, memorabilia and even a wand that operates his projector.
The special education math teacher who confesses to being a ‘Harry Potter nerd’ says his students were ‘amazed’ with the classroom, some saying it was better than professional set-ups.
He chose to alter his classroom, office and the students common room with the magical collection that he believes is worth around $2,000 (1,500 GBP).
Inspired by the character Professor Remus Lupin, who in the books tried to reengage pupils in a fun, exhilarating way – Kyle believes his own students are more ‘excited’ to go to his lessons.
Kyle said: “I wanted to create a classroom my students would be excited to come to, so I thought of myself in middle school and what excited me at that age.
“For me it was Harry Potter and Hogwarts, I always wanted to go there, so I thought if I could create that for my students they would be excited for class every day.
“It took five weeks over the summer and around 70 hours to make the transformation, using items from my own collection and other things that in total would probably be appraised at $2,000.
“In the classroom, I have the banners for each of the Hogwarts houses hanging from the ceiling, I covered all the walls in a stone pattern to look like the inside of a castle and then covered the ceiling with black trash bags painted over to look like a night sky.
“I like the hanging candles from the ceiling, the comfortable chairs in the common room which is really fun and my favourite part is my office.
“I set my office up like Professor Dumbledore’s, it’s a fun place for me to go, when answering emails, filling out paperwork and grading papers.
“My students were stunned, they had no idea how big I would go with the decorations, when I opened the door to the classroom they all froze in shock.
“Then they rushed into every corner of the class shouting at their friends to look at different parts, it’s was a lot of fun and made all my hard work worth it.
“Some of the students have been to the Harry Potter Theme Park and have commented that our classroom looks ‘just as good’ as the theme park in their minds, which was cool to hear.
“I’m a big Harry Potter nerd so a lot of the items were from my childhood and were sitting in a box in my garage, so it’s nice knowing they get a renewed purpose, bringing joy to a new generation of kids.”
Of the Harry Potter themed transformation, the area that has intrigued students most is Kyle’s wand that he has configured to turn on his school projector.
Kyle said: “I turn on and off my projector by waving my wand every day, they still haven’t figure out how it works and think there must be a button – currently they have no idea.
“They even try waving it around to turn it on but nothing happens for them, when they ask how I turn on the projector I tell them ‘I know more magic than you do right now’.
Kyle was obsessed with the Harry Potter stories since childhood, finding an escape in Hogwarts away from a world where he felt like an ‘outcast’.
He said: “When I was a kid I didn’t have a tonne of friends, I was kind of alone and spent a lot of time reading the books.
“It was an escape from the difficult aspects of childhood, but also the lessons, themes and values presented in the books were about accepting people.
“Even if you were labelled ‘weird’ or an ‘outsider’ everyone had a place to belong in the stories, which for me as someone didn’t belong was comforting.
“It was a dream of mine since I was a child to go to Hogwarts either as a student, a teacher or to visit the school.
“I wanted to prove to my students that no matter how ‘out there’ their dreams are they can make them a reality.
“Even if it doesn’t not pan out exactly how they hope they can achieve their dreams one way or another.”
Kyle took inspiration from his favourite Harry Potter character and Hogwarts Professor, Remus Lupin, while transforming his classroom.
He said: “In the books, Professor Lupin is one of the teachers at Hogwarts who really makes an effort to connect with students and let them know he cares.
“I try to replicate that in my teaching, I want my students to know I care about them and decorating the classroom was just one of the ways of doing that.
“Sometimes when learning you’re not always doing fun things, like when you have tests, but if it’s in a fun environment it becomes more tolerable.”
Since the unveiling of the wizard-renovated rooms he says the response from pupils and the public has been great.
Kyle added: “Friends and family are really proud of what I have done, they now joke that they want me to decorate their homes too.
“Some of my students have said ‘I don’t want to leave this class’ others in the school ask, ‘How do I get you as a teacher?’ it’s been a lot of fun.”