A true community school

EDUCATION: Joanna Woodson enjoys community school role, District 56 board is told


The idea of a “community school” has started to fade away, as schools grow larger and take advantage of the economy of scale. A lunchroom that can accommodate 100 students, with just a few extra ovens and seats, can hold and feed 1,000 students. Two principals at two different schools make more salary than one principal at a combined school.

Joanna Woodson Elementary is caught in a time-warp that defies that logic, the District 56 Board of Trustees were shown Sept. 25. Principal Eddie Marshall, students, teachers and parents showed the board how a community school can met educational needs, and serve the community.

“Education is teamwork,” Marshall said. Students said they have fun while learning on technology and from teachers. The 5th grades have school-based jobs, and everyone pulls together to keep the school clean, they said. When teachers are setting up their rooms in August, they look up and see people walking by their doors - these are community Prayer Walkers, who pop in and ask, “Is there anything I can do for you today?”

Betsy Ballew said she tried to persuade her daughter to come with her to Eastside, but the girl held firm for Joanna Woodson - “I want to stay at my school.”

The District 56 2018 Teacher of the Year Kayleigh Aldridge said of Joanna Woodson, “We have a winning team. The first and most important members of our team are our fellow students. They raised $500 for the Bindy Walk. They designed a school flag. Our teachers are top-notch and we are dedicated to our students. We are models for them.”

Joanna Woodson conducts fall and spring festivals, stages Real Men Read, and works with the Coalition for a Better Joanna on the annual Christmas Tree-lighting, the board was told.

Even with the former textile mill being hauled away brick-by-brick, “one thing never changes - our care and commitment to our school,” said Annette Crawford, a Joanna resident for 34 years.

The JW School received a Dollar General grant for $3,000 and a Wal-mart technology grant for $2,500, the board was told. Norbord is a valuable partner for the fall festival, and the Joanna Lions Club works closely on projects with the school.

“Each grade has a church that sponsors them,” Crawford said.

In other business, the board took under advisement policy changes suggested by the SC School Boards Association and local policies governing students - a large section of the policy manual - currently under review by attorneys. Board members gave final approval to an organizational chart, and named member Jan Simmons as delegate for the SCSBA 2017 Delegate Assembly (alternate is board member Kim Williams-Carter).

The board heard about a Sept. 29 bid deadline related to Wilder Stadium. D56 has advertised for architects and contractors to bring about $1.4 million in improvements to the stadium. The district is financing the project with a portion of its $3.8 million 8% money (eight percent of the district’s taxable property value, that can be tapped without a referendum).

The work is envisioned to start when the current football season ends, and be completed by next fall.

Board Chairman Jim Barton said the administration should examine options for a local Career and Technology Center. He said, “We are doing that (in individual schools), there’s more of that to be done. I want businesses and industries to see that.” 

District Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields said that could fit in with plans not to allow the former Bell St. School to “waste away.” The question is, O’Shields said, “How do we progress, expanding programs.”

Barton and O’Shields mentioned STEM, CAT, Science Olympiad, jobs placement and culinary arts, in addition to what’s in Bell St. now - the SC Empowerment Centre and CC4Y (the Clinton Coalition for Youth Empowerment).

O’Shields said of the Bell St. school, “We want to make sure we don’t let it idle away as, unfortunately, Martha Dendy did.”


My Clinton News

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513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902


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