Lake Fenton teacher builds tiered seating for her classroom

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LAKE FENTON (WJRT) - (10/08/15) - A Lake Fenton Middle School teacher has turned to a DIY project to solve a classroom seating concern.

Now, staring at the back of someone's head during a lesson isn't a problem inside Mrs. Speckman's classroom.

Sixth graders were working to find the greatest and least common factors.

Ashley Speckmann's years in the classroom totals seven, but this year, students have a different view.

"I came up with this idea for the tiered seating. Making each row a little taller as you went back. And I mean, the kids have responded really well to it," Speckmann said.

Speckmann, who admits to being short, came up with the design. She remembers her struggle in school, always bobbing around to try and get a better view of the lessons - something her students no longer have to worry about.

"They're telling me they can focus better. They can see what's going on. They're not getting as distracted because they don't have people in front of them," she said.

Speckmann built the tables in her garage, on her own dime. Materials came from from Menards, Home Depot and Ikea.

"My dad's taught me how to use all the power tools, so I was comfortable creating this on my own," she said.

With some help from her mom and sister, it all came together.

Padded seating accompanies front-row seats. Tables grow in height as you move toward the back of the room. Paint turned table tops into white-board - great to use as a scratch pad.

"Without having to burn that hole in their paper as they try to erase everything," Speckmann said.

Principal Dan Ferguson applauded the idea.

"She made one prototype of it. I saw it, and again, the rest is absolutely, we'd love to have your talents shared with the kids and the proof is in the pudding. The kids love it," he said.

Even teachers from out of state are inquiring about the project.

Speckmann could have applied for a grant to cover the costs, but the time-frame didn't align with her plans, and she's OK with that.

"I said, 'You know what, I'm like all teachers. We spend money in our rooms every year to make those learning environments welcoming and engaging for kids. If I'm going to spend the money to make it engaging' - I was fine with investing into this project," she said.

This project could be duplicated, but some research will take place first.

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