Rural School District Takes Creative Approach

Potter County in north central Pennsylvania is one of the most remote of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. It is home to fewer than 18,000 people and is served by neither air, rail, nor interstate highway links. And though few Pennsylvanians have ever visited it, Potter County contains some of the state’s most beautiful scenery, especially on clear nights when star gazing is unspoiled by the interference of bright urban lights.

With a population spread over 1,100 square miles, providing education to the children of Potter County is a challenge. In the tiny village of Ulysses, the Northern Potter School District, one of only seven in the county, has taken a creative approach to learning for the 560 students who occupy its Pre-K through high school classrooms.

“Every student in the district will have a customized learning plan,” says Superintendent Scott Graham. It is that way now in the middle school and will roll out to every grade over time. And, in addition to traditional classroom instruction, students can take courses online, at home or at school, “24/7, anywhere, any time.”

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 Life Skills teacher Heather Ace says that AlertSeats are effective in her classroom. They are among the innovations that help students in the rural school district thrive.

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Students reserve an AlertSeat for special activities in Heather Ace’s Life Skills classroom. In addition to the behavioral gains, the teacher says that AlertSeats provide for a stronger core muscle building for the students and teach correct posture.

The school district is so remote, however, that there is little cell coverage anywhere in the 231 square miles it serves. And more than half of its students come from families that live well below the poverty level and from homes that do not have computers. Yet every student, grades 2 through 12, is supplied with a tablet with 4G service provided by Verizon Wireless.

“We encourage students to take ownership of their education,” the superintendent adds. The tablets help them do that.

Innovation continues in special education classes where AlertSeats™ are used to help students remain on task.

Life Skills teacher Heather Ace says that AlertSeats™ are effective in her classroom where  students range from grades 7 to 12 have been diagnosed with emotional disabilities, mental health issues, and/or intellectual disabilities.

“At times students in the life skills classroom struggle to remain on task and are restless in their seats,” she says. This causes them “to lose focus and concentration on their work.” She currently has five AlertSeats™ in a classroom with nine students.

“Using them becomes a first come first serve event,” she said. However, “a student is guaranteed to have a ball seat when working with the teacher.”

“They seem to flourish with the use of the seats as they are better able to focus on the work at hand, and can also relax at the same time,” she added. “Students ask for it as the ball seat, and ‘reserve it’ when they know there’s a special activity coming up.”

In addition to the behavioral gains, she also noted the physical benefits. “The AlertSeats™ provide for a stronger core muscle building for the students and teach correct posture. They also report that the seat helps their back feel better versus using the traditional classroom chairs.”

With online courses, tablets for all students, individual learning plans, and AlertSeats™ in special education classes, the Northern Potter School District is proving that you don’t have to be big to be innovative.

To learn how school districts like Northern Potter County and others throughout the country are using the AlertSeat™ and AlertDesk™ in regular and special education classrooms, visit our website at www.alertseat.com and select Product Reviews and Articles.

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