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Google, donations fund flex seating

Kalin Massey sits on his stability ball while he works on math. Math students at Huddleston Intermediate School are learning in an innovative environment following the arrival of their new flex seating.

“When you look in a coffee shop and see people working, you will see a variety of options for seating and a comfortable atmosphere,” math teacher Meghan Pappas said. “Our world, even a work environment, has adapted in the last 70 years, and I think how we approach education - all the way down to the chairs - should adapt along with the content we are teaching.”

Mrs. Pappas believes she is creating the optimum classroom to deliver her content and help students succeed.

“Desks are put into groups to help students learn how to collaborate appropriately with those around them, and the stability ball chairs allow for certain students to get the ‘wiggles’ out without becoming a distraction to others,” she said. “Students can sit on the floor or stand. My main goal is that they are focused and actively engaged in whatever we are doing.”

Jocelyn Seumalo, Kent Suoto and Andre Stoughtenborough take advantage of alternative seating. Research shows children who sit on stability balls instead of the traditional chairs show increased focus and ability to pay attention. Sitting on the ball allows some movement as they learn, but in a non-disruptive outlet.

“I've seen flex seating incorporated in various ways from kindergarten up through high school classrooms, and I wanted to find a way to start something similar in my classroom,” Mrs. Pappas said. “As a teacher, I still try to remain a student and someone who is always trying to learn new and interesting things that can benefit my classroom.”

The students believe the flex ball seating helps their ability to stay engaged in the lessons.

“They help me focus and work harder,” Makena Crawford said.

But they say it’s not just about comfort and focus.

“I like the chairs because they let you move without making noise instead of bouncing your knee up and down,” Laney Truitt said.

Saray Esquivel-Serriteno writes a thank-you note to Google. Students worked on writing notes last week to thank donors for their contribution to the alternative seating for their classroom. According to Mrs. Pappas, the funding was a joint effort.

“A website (www.donorschoose.org) exists for teachers,” she said. “We can add projects and ask for friends and family to donate, but they also have outside donors who are looking to give toward our education system. My friends and family contributed half of the project's funds and Google is one of the outside sponsors for this website, and they fully funded the rest of my project through money raised during the holiday season and during their ‘Google Giving Week.’”

Laney Truitt enjoys the new seating in math class.