Joanna Woodson: Where Everyone’s a Star!
This particular article refocuses on the many wonderful things we have in our district by looking at the schools one at a time. We have previously covered MS Bailey, Clinton Elementary, and Eastside Elementary. Today,we look at Joanna-Woodson Elementary.
Joanna-Woodson Elementary School (JWES) is the smallest of the three elementary schools but its shadow looms large in the district. If you go into the school, you feel a special warmth and sense of home. That truly is what JWES is for its students, its parents, and its own faculty and staff. It is a loving, caring environment where every student is seen as a star in the making.
It is no accident JWES has its mascot a Star...Principal Eddie Marshall demonstrates a loving, giving, and truly child-centered approach...Mr. Marshall recognizes the importance the school is to the community. Joanna may have lost its mills but it has not lost its school. And the school proudly serves as an anchor to a proud community.
Certain features serving as hallmarks of its success are:
1:1 technology in 4th and 5th grades. This allows teachers to work with students at their own pace with lessons focused on what the students need;
Independent Reading and allowing time during the day for students to read independently. JWES teachers know students only get better in reading by reading.
Classroom libraries with a variety of books. This way, students have choice when they are choosing books to read.
JWES is the first school in the district and likely the entire state to have had 100% of its students eat the school lunch. Lunch participation is regularly the highest in the district. The cafeteria staff also believe the uniqueness and talent in each student.
Mr. Marshall is the past president of the South Carolina International Reading Association and makes sure students always have books to read in class, in the library, or to take home. The school recently completed a very successful Library Campaign and raised $10,000 to update their library collection.
Another special characteristic of the stars at Joanna-Woodson is their constant willingness to help others. After Hurricane Florence ravaged the coast of North Carolina, Mr. Marshall notified me he and his staff, students and parents wanted to help schools. They immediately set out to raise money to give to schools. This lesson may not ever be tested on any state assessment but caring about others experiencing difficulty is a life lesson well learned.
In keeping with the belief of helping others, JWES has:
Raised over $1000 for the Laurens County Cancer Association as a way to give back to our community for all they do for us;
Participated in Project Unify with Special Olympics at Presbyterian College each year;
Continued to maintain safety and security. This year, the District 56 Board of Trustees saw the need to add a resource officer to the campus. A partnership between the district and the Sheriff’s Office has added a much needed law enforcement presence...not because JWES isn’t safe but to continue to ensure it remains
Joanna is very fortunate to have a school like JWES. The teachers constantly work to improve their craft and help students become lifelong learners. The school has had a very successful implementation of AVID and works to increase parents’ involvement in the process. JWES has held numerous successful Literacy celebrations throughout the year.
Mr. Marshall recognizes the achievements at JWES owe a great deal of support from their business partners. Churches provide much support and Norbord is their closest business partner. Mr. Marshall is quick to talk about the special feel and the special people that make JWES a most special place.
There is no doubt about it...at Joanna-Woodson, everyone is a star and in the District 56 constellation, Joanna-Woodson shines brightly.
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of School District 56.)