At Colorado Elementary School (Colorado), painting a tile for the school ceiling represented a rite of passage for fifth grade students. Once Colorado became the Muscatine Early Learning Center, school and district staff decided to start fresh and take down those tiles, returning as many as possible to the children who created them. However, many went unclaimed. Rather than let them go to waste, Tanya Pothoff, co-owner of Miracle Car Wash (MCW), has given these pieces of artwork a new lease on life and a new home.
The mother of two former Colorado Students, Pothoff saw a Facebook post sharing that the school planned to take the tiles down, and that parents could come collect them on certain days. Pothoff went to collect her daughters’ artwork towards the end of the pickup period. While at the school, she noticed quite a few tiles had gone unclaimed.
Later, with the tiles still on her mind, Pothoff realized that the decorated pieces looked similar in size to the tiles used in the waiting areas of MCW. She asked her husband what kind of tiles they had used, and quickly found out that the square tiles at the carwash matched the size of the Colorado tiles exactly. After talking it over with her husband, the two decided they wanted to display any unclaimed tiles on their ceiling.
Pothoff’s husband called over to the school and later went to pick up the more that 120 tiles still left. From there, it took several MCW employees around nine hours to change out the plain tiles with the decorated ones. Though the project proved time consuming, it paid off in the end. MCW now had a beautiful display of children’s artwork for everyone to see.
With all of the tiles up, Pothoff encourages anyone with students from Colorado to come and see their child’s artwork in its new setting. For parents who may not have had a chance to pick up their children’s tiles, Pothoff welcomes them to come and claim them. Likewise, any family who brought a tile home but does not have a place to display it may bring it to MCW and Pothoff will find a home for it. In the event that Pothoff gets more tiles than will fit in the carwash, she plans to create a rotating display, or to put some up at Suntan City, which she and her husband also own.
Overall, Pothoff loves that she and her husband could save Colorado’s tiles and create a new display with them in MCW for the public to enjoy. “To me, it’s kind of exciting because my daughters went to Colorado and it’s nice to save their hard work and effort. . .. I’ve noticed customers coming in and looking around at them, and I tell them the story, and they think it’s pretty cool.” With this unique collection on permanent display, Pothoff will get to share the story of the tiles long after the fifth graders who painted them have grown up.