New furniture helps mobile classroom

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Elephant’s Fork Elementary School will have one classroom moving into the 21st century with the addition of dynamic and flexible seats and tables.

The new furniture was won by new School Board member Sherri Story at the Association for Learning Environments A4 statewide conference, and it is valued at almost $4,000.

The set includes tables and chairs from VS America’s Shift+ collection, which allows for a more flexible classroom arrangement.

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“I chose Elephant’s Fork because I wanted to give to a school that hasn’t received a lot of attention, and I also wanted to give it to a teacher in a mobile unit,” Story said.

Other schools, including the new Col. Fred Cherry Middle School and Florence Bowser Elementary School, already have innovative furniture in some of their classrooms, and Story believes that Elephant’s Fork has been underserved.

“We need to look at equity across the board,” Story said.

The school division was pleased to see the gift go to Elephant’s Fork and advocates for this new type of furniture to be in every classroom they can get it in.

“This helps us meet needs for cooperative learning. We are very appreciative,” Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney said. “These allow children to move and helps some of them to stay focused.”

A big plus that Whitney mentioned was the ability to move the classrooms to fit the need of any given lesson, even on the drop of a dime.

“This allows for flexibility,” Whitney said.

Adrienne Foster, a fifth-grade teacher at Elephant’s Fork, will be bringing the new furniture into her mobile unit classroom by the end of the week, and she is ready to plan her lessons around the furniture.

“I’m excited. One thing that is hard is being in a small place, but this allows for more movement,” Foster said.

Two of her students, Damaiya Stephens-Smith and Devin Allen, both 10, got to try out the furniture first on Wednesday afternoon, and they are anxious to have it brought into their classroom.

Their favorite part of the new furniture is some of the new seats. One orange seat, affectionately known as the “wiggle” seat, features a curved bottom so students can wiggle and spin safely.

“The seat lets me do more stuff, and I can wiggle when I feel bored. It lets me have fun,” Damaiya said.

Devin preferred sitting in some of the more traditional-looking seats, but they still have cool features. Two seats, one with wheels and one without, feature cutouts in the back so that students can sit backwards comfortably and are able to quietly rock back and forth.

“This seat lets me lean backwards, and I can wobble in it,” Devin said. “It’s very exciting.”

Elephant’s Fork’s Principal Jessica Avery is excited to show the set off to other teachers, and she hopes that the school can look at ways to get more furniture like it through grants, donations or maybe winning another contest.

“Kids like to move a lot, and our philosophy is to let them, as long as it’s safe and they can work,” Avery said.

VS America has been designing and manufacturing school furniture since 1898, and they regularly consult with educators, designers and architects to innovate and provide furniture that facilitates the current culture of classrooms.