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In October, the Sparta Education Foundation awarded Alpine Elementary School Counselor Heather Yanoff a $1,600 grant to be used toward social-emotional learning supplies at Alpine, and we were recently invited into the school to see those tools in use.

Throughout the building, Yanoff has put the grant money to use in the form of a variety of tools to help alleviate the stresses of Sparta’s youngest students. The counseling offices now hold more chair varieties, helping students find a comfy corner, or a place to get their “wiggles” out. She also has a new trampoline, as well as boxes of fidget toys to help her students relax.

In each wing of the building, hopscotch stickers were added to the flooring, allowing teachers to send students who may need to get up and move a chance to do so right outside their classroom door, where they can still be under the watchful eye of their teacher.

Yanoff and her co-counselor, Meredith McCarthy, are working on “Calming Corner Boxes,” which will be sent to every classroom in the building, as well. Each box contains a variety of tools, fidget spinners, putty, and other sensory objects that help students calm their nerves and get themselves into the best position to learn.

“The kids love their calming corner”, reported Denise Kimball, a second grade teacher at Alpine. “Knowing they have all those tools right here in the classroom when they need it has been really comforting to them.”

Yanoff agreed. “We have students who all have different needs. What works for one doesn’t work for the next. We are so appreciative to have a variety of tools we can offer to our students to help set them up for a great day of learning.”

Yanoff hopes the grant supplies will be able to be used for a few more years before they need to be restocked. “We are just so happy to have all these great new tools in our school. Thank you to the SEF!”