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Community Foundation Grant Supports Movement Lab at Local Elementary School

Students at Central Grade School have PE class five days a week. And for three of those days, their time in the gym is actually the first piece of Movement Lab – an innovative program that matches physical education with literacy.

“Students are walking on balance beams, log rolling, crossing monkey bars, stepping over sight words on a ladder on the floor,” said Mary Radecki, teacher at Central Grade School. “In movement lab, we pair physical activity that sparks the part of the brain needed to learn to read with the actual reading lessons themselves.”

Movement Lab began at Central Grade School during the 2015/2016 school year and was offered only to kindergarten students. During the 2017/2018 school year, the program was expanded to first grade students at Central. Now, a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation is ensuring Movement Lab is available for another year. This is the second year the Community Foundation offered a grant to support Movement Lab.

“Our organization is committed to promoting, and helping to build, a culture of health and well-being,” said David Mengebier, Community Foundation president and CEO. “Our board chose Movement Lab as the recipient of its discretionary strategic grant dollars because it promotes physical activity and boosts literacy – both of which are critical to future well-being of kids.”

Funding this year’s program, which is also supported with dollars from the United Way and Hagerty, was particularly critical said Central Grade School principal, Toby Tisdale.

“With the third grade reading law going into effect, it is especially valuable for us to offer the program and be able to demonstrate, with five years of data, the effectiveness of Movement Lab in improving student outcomes,” said Tisdale.

Tisdale said that when Radecki began working with classroom teachers on Movement Lab four years ago, the focus was on increasing all students’ literacy proficiency, with a particular focus on those students who were testing in the bottom 30 percent.

“Each year that we’ve had Movement Lab we’ve seen upward trends both in proficiency levels and in students exceeding their projected growth over the course of a school year,” said Tisdale.

Tisdale added that over the years, Movement Lab has been enhanced by leveraging the skills and time of the school’s reading interventionist.

“We’ve had the ability to be creative and flexible with our interventionist’s time so that all Kindergarten and first grade students are receiving small, group-focused lessons that are designed to help those students grow from where they are,” said Tisdale.


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