It is almost time for lunch, and Elizabeth Rivera’s third-grade class begins to line up to head to the cafeteria. As Ms. Rivera directs the cleanup and line up, Kierra Morales gets up from her single desk with a big decision. “Excuse me, Ms. Rivera,” Kierra says. “I don’t think sitting at this single desk is really working for me. After lunch, I am going to sit in a swing chair. Is that ok?” With a big smile, Ms. Rivera says, “Of course that’s ok, Kierra. You are taking responsibility for your own learning and know what is best for you as a student.”
Over the last three years, the Hyde elementary school has transformed classrooms to include flexible seating in our first through third classrooms. In flexible seating classrooms, traditional seating charts are replaced with seating arrangements that allow the students to sit where they choose. Students have the choice to sit in traditional chairs and desks or on bouncy ball chairs, pillows, accordion stools, swivel chairs, or at lap desks or whiteboard tables. Flexible seating takes our social-emotional learning program to the next level in that from a young age, Hyde students are taking responsibility for their own education and learning.
“Our classrooms are set up to be comfortable and give the students a choice for how they can best engage in learning,” said Latea O’Kane, ES Academic Dean.
Like Ms. Rivera, first-grade teachers Roxanne Clark and Jerilynn Primero have seen several positive changes in their classroom since the flex furniture was introduced. They feel their students appreciate the opportunity to have choice in where they sit because the furniture helps students understand what kind of learners they are and teaches them how to take responsibility for their own learning.
The Hyde elementary school also continues to fulfill its promise of academic excellence in their reading and ELA curriculum. Teachers are watching their students make tremendous strides in their reading and comprehension abilities. Third-grader, Ronnell Brunson (pictured below) is one student who has grown by leaps and bounds since coming to Hyde. At the beginning of second grade, Ronnell was reading below grade level. However, by the end of the school year, Ronnell made two years of reading growth. “I felt my brain growing at every step,” Ronnell said. “My teachers told me you have to put your heart into reading and I did! Books teach me more about my feelings and people all over the world. I am so happy when I’m reading.”
It is through the generosity of the Bayly Family Foundation that our elementary school students like Kierra and Ronnell continue to blossom and discover their unique potential. Elementary School Director Christine Moloughney-Froman said: “Through the generosity of the Bayly Family Family, we are able to create inclusive classroom environments across multiple grade levels that inspire student engagement in learning. The Bayly Family’s commitment and passion for elementary school literacy initiatives have enabled us to provide the necessary support for teacher development as well as student growth. Their generosity has had a lasting impact on our community and we are so thankful!