Published in the Iola Register on Oct. 30, 2013.

Middle school students taking a seat on gym balls

 Ryan Mortimer, Concordia Middle School fifth grade teacher, recently received a grant from U.S. Cellular which benefits his students in a number of different ways.
 With his grant for $980.20, issued through U.S. Cellular's Calling All Teachers Campaign, Mortimer was able to purchase a classroom set of large sit in gym balls.
 "They, in a sense, are yoga balls that have replaced my students' daily chairs," Mortimer said. "Not only do they promote healthy posture and balancing skills, but students who are fidgety or have trouble focusing on a daily basis will now benefit from these chairs."
 Research behind the chairs has shown that for students who have short attention spans or might have trouble focusing,  sitting in a gym ball  will occupy that need to be moving while helping them focus on their daily work.
 Also, the simple fact that students have to use good posture to actually sit on them is said to make them more attentive, more awake and not just sitting back in their chair about to fall asleep.
 "Students have 100 percent control of whether or not they want to sit in them," Mortimer said. "Each student is different, in this day more than ever, and a regular chair is still available for them at their choosing.
"Currently, the majority of my students are using these resources and I am very appreciative of U.S. Cellular for coming through and allotting me the resources to purchase and benefit my students with their daily tasks."
 In U.S. Cellular's Calling All Teachers Campaign, the wireless carrier worked with philanthropic website DonorsChoose.org to fund $500,000 in creative and impactful classroom projects submitted by public school teachers.
 Throughout the state of Kansas, 58 teachers had projects funded with a total donation of $37,952 that will benefit more than 4,386 students.
 "Teachers work very hard to make every student's learning experience meaningful and fun, and U.S. Cellular is proud to support teachers' efforts," said Randy Shurtz, area sales manager for U.S. Cellular in Kansas. "We are dedicated to the Concordia community and excited to contribute to the education of local students through this program."
 Starting Nov. 4, U.S. Cellular is bringing back its Calling All Communities campaign for the fifth year. Schools can rally community support for the chance to win a share of $500,000 to fund what their students need the most. The top 20 schools that garner the most community votes win $25,000 to use as they wish to improve their educational experience. Additional information is available at www.uscellular.com.