'Standing tall' in an Olean classroom

Nov 3, 2015

A middle school teacher in the Southern Tier has created a new way for her students to give their best. WBFO's Focus on Education Eileen Buckley says in one Olean Intermediate Middle School classroom students are standing -- not sitting.

"We started right out the first day of school and there are no chairs with the desks," said Eileen Keenan Skrobacz, a 6th & 7th grade teacher.

Olean Intermediate Middle School 7th grader Maggie McCelland stands tall for her work in English class.
Credit Eileen Keenan Skrobacz

Skrobacz tells WBFO News she started researching the use of tall desks in a classroom at the end of last school year.

"Last spring here was  a bit of a buzz that our district was going to purchase some tall desks, so I started doing a little bit of research, and when I approached our superintendent I was a little late, so she said next  year we can put in for you," said Skrobacz.

The standing classroom desk cost about $250 each, so Skrobacz asked her husband for a little help and he created a prototype to set up the school desks.

Olean Intermediate Middle School
Credit Olean Intermediate Middle School Credit Photo from Olean Intermediate Middle School webpage

“I was talking to my husband, and I had been teaching 33 years, and I said 'What could we do?' and he immediately said 'Bed risers, put your desk on bed risers'," said Skrobacz.

Safety was a big concern, so tennis balls are also used to make the desks sturdy. Skrobacz has noticed an increase in student alertness.       

"They really are paying better attention," noted Skrobacz. "Because they can’t lean on their elbows and their hands. They don’t put their heads down."

Students stand for a full 40 minutes, but Skrobacz says there have been no complaints.

Skrobacz says giving students a chance to move around really makes a difference. She is convinced that it will catch on in classrooms in her district and across the region, something she is now calling "standing tall."