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Flexible furniture helps Hampton students stay on task, fidget less, teachers say

| Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, 1:24 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Oriana Wells, 6, a first-grader, works in class on Jan. 4, 2017, using one of the new chairs at Wyland Elementary School in the Hampton Township School District.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Miles Bailey, 6, works on an assignment in Lisa Burns' first-grade class on Jan. 4, 2017, at Wyland Elementary in the Hampton Township School District.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hayden Lantzy, 8, a student in Susan Rothmeyer's second-grade class, works on an iPad on Jan. 4, 2017, in one of the new chairs at Wyland Elementary in the Hampton Township School District.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Light filters help soften the direct light In Susan Rothmeyer's second-grade class on Jan. 4, 2017, at Wyland Elementary in the Hampton Township School District.

Grade schools in Hampton are using innovative classroom furniture to enhance learning and keep students engaged.

Teachers involved in the effort say they were trying to lessen fidgeting and restlessness, and furniture that allows students to move, rock and wobble in class is more conducive to learning than traditional stationary desks and chairs.

Flexible furniture has been placed in the first-grade classroom at Poff Elementary School, and in the first- and second-grade classrooms at Wyland Elementary School in the Hampton Township School District.

“My students absolutely love the new seating arrangement,” said Lisa Milsom, first-grade teacher at Poff. “The different seating options allow the students to move at their seat, or stand, as they work. This has helped to increase student engagement and time on task.”

Milsom obtained funding for the furniture through a grant program, said Shari Berg, public relations consultant with the school district. Projects are featured on the website, and corporate sponsors are involved.

Flexible furniture bought for the Poff school included Kore Wobble Chairs, stability balance discs, fitness balls, stack stools and clipboards.

Also purchased were scoop rockers and a tent.

“These materials will allow for constant movement that will build each student's core strength, instead of keeping still for five long hours,” Milsom said. And special clipboards allow the students to work without a stationary desk.

Flexible furniture for the Wyland classrooms was funded through a Hampton Alliance for Educational Excellence grant, school board member Denise Balason said.

Wyland's first-grade room, where Lisa Burns is the teacher, and second-grade room, led by teacher Susan Rothmeyer, received similar flexible furniture. The teachers also purchased light filters and diffusers that reduce the glare of unnatural lighting and create a calming atmosphere.

The grant for Wyland rooms was $7,841, Berg said.

Burns said since the new furniture and the lighting filters were put into place, she's noticed that her students appear happier and more engaged in their work.

“The students are participating more and are having more invigorating conversations,” Burns said.

The district's Central Elementary School also is exploring the idea of a special room that would incorporate flexible seating within a STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math, environment, Berg said.

Superintendent Michael Loughead and school board members visited the classrooms recently and were impressed.

“Many students attend better when they have a comfortable environment,” Loughead said. This may be an avenue for other classrooms in the future, he said.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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