By Eric Stoff, stoffe@maconaquah.k12.in.us

Chas Zelinsky’s incoming kindergarten students are in for a unique experience this fall. Their classroom at Pipe Creek Elementary School will have an array of alternative seating choices thanks to a generous grant from Northern Indiana Power Supply Company (NIPSCO).

A grant of $1,100 was awarded by NIPSCO for Zelinsky to purchase alternative seating and “objects to direct fidgeting positively,” which will help them focus in the classroom.

Zelinsky said she is “honored and ecstatic” to receive the grant from NIPSCO.

“Gratitude doesn't seem like a strong enough word,” she said. “NIPSCO’s belief in supporting our students' individual needs in a learning environment is appreciated. It will enable many students to be more successful in the classroom.”

Zelinsky began researching movement in her classroom several years ago after noticing a rise in students’ inability to focus. She believes this rise correlates with a decline in student core muscle strength.

“Students don’t have strong core muscles because they are doing significantly less activities that allow for the development of these muscles,” Zelinsky said. “As a result, they often compensate for the poor muscle development by moving very frequently.”

Zelinsky received national press coverage several years ago for implementing yoga in her kindergarten classroom for the same reason.

Karen McCoy, NIPSCO Public Affairs Manager, said the company is “proud” to support the school.

“NIPSCO is a strong advocate for education,” McCoy said. “We are proud to support Pipe Creek Elementary School in its initiative to increase kindergarteners' focus while giving them the additional benefit of strength and movement.”

Principal Laura Fulton thanked NIPSCO for its generosity.

We appreciate and rely on the support of our community and its businesses to explore and expand our initiatives,” Fulton said.

This grant from NIPSCO is the third grant received by Pipe Creek Elementary School for alternative seating in recent years, and it is the second grant received by NIPSCO for the same initiative. The company also funded alternative seating in the form of rocking desk chairs for Heather Hollenback’s first grade classroom in 2015, and Dukes Health Care Foundation funded alternative seating in Andrea Snyder’s kindergarten classroom in 2016.