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Seating for safety and success

East Elementary teacher awarded grant for creative classroom seating

Henry Stallings tried everything to keep his third-graders from leaning back in their chairs. After several tipping incidents, he even made up a song about the dangers of tipping over.

Ciara Woods says she is more comfortable sitting on a stability ball than on a traditional student chair

“Keep it safe because we care, don’t lean back in your chair,” he admonishes in the song.

“It became a matter of safety,” Stallings said. “We could talk about it all we wanted but it was almost second nature.”

He decided to reach out to the Grandville Education Foundation, writing his first classroom grant application for stability balls and bases for his classroom.

“We had a real problem with kids sitting cross-legged in the chairs and leaning back,” Stallings said. “The grant focused on fixing that problem with a relatively cheap alternative.”

For $499.50, the stability balls have a relatively long lifespan in a classroom setting, he said.

On a Roll

Greyson Doran, an admitted “wiggler,” now wishes that he had a stability ball chair at home.

“It’s way more comfortable and I can move when I need to move without tipping over in my chair,” Greyson said. “It helps me focus.”

Students in Henry Stallings’ class can choose between a stability ball or regular seat

The seats also help his classmates stay in their own space, Greyson said.

“You stay on your ball and you don’t move all over because it’s on a stand,” he said. “Everyone really likes them.”

The new seats help Ciara Woods focus on her work, she said.

“The ball actually helps me sit more still than the chair,” Ciara said. “It helps me to get my work done faster too.”

If a student doesn’t like sitting on the stability ball, he or she can choose to sit in the classroom chairs used before.

Greyson Doran likes the stability ball seating because he is able to move around without disrupting the class

Safer Seating Helps Learning

Every year the GEF awards more than $40,000 in grants to Grandville teachers like Stallings.

“The GEF Board believed that Mr. Stallings’ request for alternative seating would help with the learning experience for his students,” said GEF President Pam Silva, noting the board reviewed many applications.

After the first month of students using the stability balls, Stallings had already seen changes in the classroom environment, he said.

“The class is more focused. I have not had to worry about students leaning back or sitting improperly in chairs.”


Students work out by whacking away with drumsticks

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Hannah Lentz
Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit.


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