The Sparta Education Foundation (SEF) approved two grants for flexible seating and announced changes to the board at their September 10 meeting. Alpine School and Helen Morgan School classrooms will be outfitted with flexible seating to promote individual learning styles in separate grants totaling $27,478. The 2019-20 SEF Executive Board includes President Donna West, Vice President Donna Spinetta, Treasurer Nancy Purnell and newly-elected Secretary Heather Egli. Jordan Ouimette is rejoining the board as a Student Liaison, and Matt Struble is a new Student Liaison; both are Seniors at Sparta High School.
“We welcome our new Secretary Heather Egli and our newest Student Liaison Matt Struble as we begin another productive year which includes a Wine and Craft Beer Tasting/Food Pairing fundraiser on Sunday, October 6 and our annual Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning,” said Donna West. “All are welcome to attend our monthly meetings and learn more about what the SEF does to enhance our students’ educational experiences. Board meetings are held at Sparta Middle School on the first Tuesday of each month.”
The two flexible seating grants will enrich elementary classrooms at Alpine and Helen Morgan schools. “Flexible seating allows students to actively participate in making choices about how and where to sit,” said Donna West. “Classrooms with flexible seating are conducive to both individual, quiet study as well as more collaborative, discussion-based group work. These grants meet curriculum goals because flexible seating encourages individualized learning. Teachers can work within groups or with individual students more easily when flexible seating is an option.”
Helen Morgan School
The flexible seating grant for Helen Morgan School will impact two fourth grade Math and English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms and two fifth grade Math and ELA classrooms. The grant was submitted by Helen Morgan School teachers Jennifer Caputo, grade 5 ELA teacher; Catherine Jennings, grade 4 ELA teacher; Karin Rennie, grade 5 Math teacher; Dana Smulewicz, grade 4 Math teacher; and Amy Smith, Special Education teacher. Furnishings will include stools, standing height tables with seating, floor cushions, MarkerBoard activity tables, lightweight reading floor rockers, surf-portable writing surfaces and soft modular seating. The grant was for $15,690.
The grant for Alpine School was submitted by Amanda Weiss-Cronin; Marissa Radjewski and Kelly Deters, all first grade teachers; it will impact three first grade classrooms. “Children today show more signs of stress and anxiousness. We can observe this in the first grade classroom daily by watching students fidget, spin, wiggle and jump when listening and focusing are expected,” Weiss-Cronin said. “It has been shown that children are more engaged in their learning when they feel comfortable and are able to move. It is not necessary or expected in today’s classrooms for students to sit still during instruction or work time in order for them to learn and grow.” Furniture at Alpine School will include rocker chairs, donut balls, bouncy bands, teaming center tables, surf floor desks, active seat cushions, stools and bean bag chairs. The grant was for $11,788.
Since 2006, the Sparta Education Foundation has funded over $1,067,000 in grants to all five of Sparta’s public schools. The Foundation is an all-volunteer, independent 501 (c) (3) NJ Non-Profit Corporation whose mission is to engage the entire community in philanthropic giving. Visit spartaeducationfoundation.org for more information about joining or volunteering.