By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
SPARTA — Sitting at a metal desk on a plain chair, facing forward at a chalkboard and looking at a teacher has been an image planted in people’s heads forever as to what children experience when they go to elementary school.
But, Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School is giving its first and second grade students a different picture about their classrooms.
This year, the school has put in flexible seating classrooms to help its first and second grade students learn their school subjects in a more comfortable setting.
“It’s an unconventional way of seating for kids,” Reverend Brown Principal Mrs. Patricia Klebez said. “It’s not your typical classroom or in offices now where you have standard cubicles. These classrooms are being transformed into a place where they can enjoy learning without being bound to one spot.”
The idea for flexible seating for Reverend Brown came from initial research from Reverend Brown first grade teacher Mrs. Katie Robinson. Mrs. Robinson shared the idea with Mrs. Klebez, who did some more research and found that this was something the school needed to implement as soon as possible so it can start making an impact on students at a young age.
“I believe it is important to have it because we are building future leaders here at Reverend Brown,” Mrs. Klebez said. “Our students are encouraged daily to be critical thinkers, creative, and collaborative, which are all 21st Century skills necessary to be successful in our global workplace. Research and experience shows that students learn best when they feel safe and comfortable. Flexible seating is an initiative that enables all of this to occur while encouraging a love of learning at an early age.”
When Mrs. Klebez and Mrs. Robinson presented the idea to the rest of the first and second grade teacher, the teachers loved the idea. With their approval, the school bought blue beanbag chairs, high-top tables with colored stack stools, pillows that sit on top of plastic crates, scoop rocker seats, balance discs, stability ball chairs, low-rising tables and wobble chairs for their first and second grade classes.
And only a week into school, the teachers and their students have enjoyed the new seating initiative.
Mrs. Robinson and Reverend Brown second grade teacher Ms. Stephanie Marotta love how their students have embraced their freedom of deciding where to sit during class.
“I know it’s early on, but seeing them choose a seat has made them more active and more engaged,” Mrs. Robinson said. “It gives them that independence to find a place that works for them.”
“It allows the kids to have a choice in how they are learning and what is most comfortable for them,” Ms. Marotta said. “What (seat) works for them one day for them may not work the next day. But, the kids love them already.”
Second grade students Quinn Klebez and Chloe Kachmar like how cozy the beanbag chairs and the scoop rockers are. They also feel they are getting a great education from them.
“They are good,” Klebez said. “They are really comfy. We are learning a lot while sitting in them.”
“They are nice,” Kachmar said. “We are paying attention a lot and are learning more.”
Reverend Brown is hoping these flexible seats will continue to aid in their students’ development as the year progresses.
“We hope to see more growth in the children and be able to push them further,” Mrs. Robinson said. “If they are comfortable, they will be engaged more and get the best out of them.”