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Third-Grade Excel Classroom is Full of "Busy Bees"

Ever wonder where classroom themes come from? Amy Buys, third-grade teacher at Excel Charter Academy, found hers at home after her husband’s dream of beekeeping became their reality which she quickly fell in love with. So, four years ago, they came up with the classroom name “Buys Busy bees.”

Since then, her classroom has transformed into a bee and honey paradise, including an impressive number of bee-themed items like honeycomb and burlap. This is reflected on her boarders, 3D bee clothes pins, bee name tags, bee lights on the whiteboard, bee magnets, a plethora of black and yellow décor, and plenty more.

“My lovelies have also contributed to my décor,” said Buys. “I now have a sign above my desk that reads, ‘The One and Only Queen Bee,’ several Queen Bee coffee mugs, tote bags, and as a class gift last year, I was given a bee lamp.” She also has multiple t-shirts, a bee lanyard, bee shoes, and bee-themed curtains.

But the theme seeps into more than just the décor. Her job list is a great example, where the task of picking up the floor is listed as “cleaning the hive.” She also makes it a point to integrate her love for bees and honey into her lessons.

“Every year, I read ‘The Bee Tree’ by Patricia Polacco, and bring in honey that we harvested and crackers for the kiddos to try,” said Buys. “This is to correlate with the main character understanding that knowledge is as sweet as the honey from the Bee Tree.”

It doesn’t take long for students to realize her love of bees, especially considering she has a special routine on the first day of school.

“I have a small bag of Honeycomb cereal for them to munch on and a cute little poem,” said Buys. “There is a lot of bee themes going on for the weeks leading up to the first day of school. My introduction letter has a bee watermark on it and all my parent emails start with ‘Good Afternoon Busy Bee Families.’”   

Although Buys may be known for her love of bees, she’s also an excellent teacher in other areas.

“Amy's enthusiasm for learning is contagious,” said Angie Spears, upper elementary dean at Excel. “She believes in her students and they rise to her expectations day after day.”

She lets her students know that third grade is hard and is sure to celebrate victories along the way. During recognition, students get excited to stand on their chairs and take a selfie with their best work at the Selfie Station. Each student gets three selfies a week with their work to be emailed back home.

Keep up the great work, Amy!

About Excel Charter Academy
Excel Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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