An unexpected amount of funding is helping area teachers be more flexible in their classrooms.
Hundreds of educators around Wisconsin posted requests for project materials on the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.org, and on Tuesday morning, Herb Kohl Philanthropies met every one of their requests, including those of a few teachers in La Crosse.
One fourth-grade classroom at Hintgen Elementary is excited to put that money to use with something called "flexible seating," which gives students wiggle room with stability balls, stools and lap desks instead of traditional chairs.
This unique seating helps fourth-grader Zaid Jandal focus in class.
"You get to bounce around move around in them,” he said. "Sometimes I don’t like sitting in one spot for a long time."
It also helps their teacher, Chrissi Crouse, with a full room of 28 kids.
"We are trying flexible seating, which gives them a feeling of their own choice and of being in control of their learning,” she said. “Our friends would definitely prefer to have stools or stability balls."
As of now, the classroom doesn't have enough go around.
"Sometimes we switch spots and share them,” Zaid said.
"When your ratio is 5 to 28, you're not able to reach a lot of the kiddos,” Crouse said.
So, Crouse put a request on DonorsChoose.org, a website where teachers can ask for help funding their projects.
And on Tuesday morning, she, and teachers around the state, woke up to a surprise.
"That's the amazing part,” Crouse said. “I think when you have one donor like Herb Kohl who's going to fund all the way across the state, that doesn’t usually happen."
Herb Kohl Philanthropies funded all Wisconsin teachers requests, including three from Hintgen.
“That means more opportunity to support students and meet needs and do that in whatever we can do to individualize learning and be successful,” Hintgen Principal Amy Oliver said.
Now Crouse is able to bring more stools, lap desks and cushy chairs to the classroom to really set students up for success.
"So other people can focus instead of talking to their partner and they can move around a little,” Zaid said.
"They're very excited,” said Crouse.
Herb Kohl Philanthropies funded almost 700 projects in Wisconsin, a total of $500,000 donated to teachers throughout the state.