Making Students Feel Included

Children want to feel included, a special challenge for schools when some students are set apart by their disabilities. But thanks to an innovative desk that physically and visually blends in with traditional classroom furniture, three wheelchair-bound students in a Western Pennsylvania school district are now able to join their peers in classroom activities.

The Greensburg Salem School District, located about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, acquired AlertDesks from Newman Adaptive for three girls, now high school freshmen, when they were in middle school. So well did the AlertDesks perform that they followed the girls into high school and are now used in every class they attend.

AlertDesk at Greensburg Salem School District

In color, size and construction, the AlertDesk fits in with standard classroom furniture. “They don’t stand out,” said a teacher, making the students feel included.

AlertDesk at Greensburg Salem School District

The adjustable work surface on an AlertDesk can support regular school work and special equipment and AlertDesks’ portability means that it can easily be moved when the student changes class.

AlertDesk at Greensburg Salem School District

“The girls love them,” said a teacher. “With all the barriers they face, having a desk that supports them and looks like the desks others use is awesome.”

AlertDesk at Greensburg Salem School District

Teachers notice improvements in posture and attention to tasks when some students use AlertSeats. “They can still fidget, but they pay attention,” says one.

What makes the AlertDesks so successful is their size, their color, and their versatility, say their teachers and an administrator.

“They don’t stand out,” said Anthony Greece, of the AlertDesks. A high school Life Skills teacher, Mr. Greece has the girls for math.

He likes the way the desks can be moved into position with other desks making it possible for the girls to participate in group work with their peers.

“They are extremely sweet and have a desire to learn,” said Jessica Haerr, a Life Skills teacher who taught the girls in middle school. “With all the barriers they face, having a desk that supports them and looks like the desks others use is awesome.”

“And the girls love them,” she added.

Both Mr. Greece and Ms. Haerr talked about features like the adjustable work surface that can support both school work and special equipment, and said that the AlertDesks’ portability means that they can easily be moved from classroom to classroom for periods when the students are mainstreamed.

Prior to the AlertDesks, the students used desks constructed for them by the school district’s maintenance staff.

“They were bulky, non-adjustable, and not mobile,” said Todd McMillan, Coordinator of Student Services. The AlertDesks help the students “access all elements of the educational environment.”

AlertSeats are also part of the educational environment at GSSD. And Alison Cox, an elementary school Life Skills teacher thinks her students benefit from the ball chairs.

“They immediately do better at tasks,” she said of students who use the devices. “They can still fidget, but they pay attention and stay on task.”

She also sees posture improvement when compared with regular classroom chairs.

“I like them myself,” she said, noting that she sits on one when teaching small groups and when the class is seated on the floor around her. “It helps my posture, too.”

To learn how school districts like the Greensburg Salem School District and others throughout the country use the AlertSeatTM and AlertDeskTM in regular and special education classrooms, visit our website at and select Product Reviews and Articles.

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