One Teacher’s License Plate Mental Health Project

Written by Anne Moss Rogers from an interview with Tammy Ozolins, Middle School Teacher, Pocohantas Middle School in Henrico, VA

3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins
This was the student design. Since the original images were too small for publishing in the book, designer Carolyn Tye McGeorge rendered these in high resolution for publication.

Tammy Ozolins, also known to her middle school students as Ms. Oz, is lucky to have the full support of her principal and the school counselors in her efforts to have open conversations on mental health topics. For her students’ school projects about mental health, she includes how her own struggles with bipolar disorder strengthened her emotional muscle, built her resilience, and made her the person she is today. She has written more articles on this blog than anyone and is definitely one of my go-to people for lived experience. She has turned her life around since her diagnosis and been a teacher of the year several times.

Her message to her students is never presented as a therapy session but as a story of perseverance and hope. And she presents it in a way that is age appropriate.

As a health and PE teacher, she embraced the task to tackle mental health by creating a number of interesting and engaging projects for her middle school students. Other projects included a teacher video series, student survey, student presentations, and a 3-minute podcast. You’ll read more about those projects in Kim O’Brien’s (Ph.D., LICSW) in our next book, Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk published by Jossey-Bass, a division of Wiley Publishing, due out August 2021.

The project

Like many states, Virginia offers specialized license plates for vehicles that enable people with a common interest to identify or promote themselves or their cause. Specialized plates can be ordered through the department of motor vehicles. The special plates usually cost a little more and proceeds from those plates financially support college scholarships, foundations, or preservation.

The project Tammy created for mental health awareness month was for students to design a specialty plate to support the cause of mental health. They could do this for any state, as long as they looked up and followed the motor vehicle department guidelines. Once students finished, the license plate art would be printed by a 3D printer and posted on the walls outside the classroom during May, mental health awareness month. (Examples of those are on this page).

Student Directions for creating a specialty license plates

Virginia, like many other states, offers specialized license plates for vehicles. To learn more about specialty plates, visit the Virginia DMV website. To learn more about specialty plates, visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website.

To see some of these plates quickly, go to Google and search for Virginia Specialty License Plates and click the images for examples of plates and the causes. To bring awareness to Mental Health and the need to support people who struggle with mental health issues you are going to design a specialty license plate using Tinkercad.

License Plate Requirements

  1. Design using Tinkercad
  2. Plate must measure no more than 9 inches long by 6 inches wide by .5 inches tall
  3. Can only include 2 of these colors: red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink, white, black, gray, gold
  4. Must meet the requirements of a Virginia license plate
  5. Must represent the mental illness your group chose
  6. Must be submitted as TWO .obj or .stl files– one file per color
  7. To do this, hold shift and click on each piece that is the same color. Then go to Export → .stl or .obj and repeat with the next color
  8. Upload both files to the same form submission
This was the student design. Since the original images were too small for publishing in the book, designer Carolyn Tye McGeorge rendered these in high resolution for publication.

3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins
3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins
3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins
3D printer plate from student design- Image from Tammy Ozolins

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “One Teacher’s License Plate Mental Health Project”

  1. A BIG YAY for Tammy. These plates are awesome. Very happy to hear she is talking about mental health.

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