Jefferson Elementary School History
In 1984, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools realigned the grade-level structure, changing elementary school from K-4 to K-5. As part of this change, Jefferson Junior High became Jefferson Elementary School, located at 3500 Sally Kirk Road. Maintenance crews spent the summer of 1984 lowering watering fountains, removing lockers, and making other changes to convert the junior high facility to an elementary school.
In the spring of 1984, the School Board announced that Dr. Beverly Tyner would serve as the first principal of the new Jefferson Elementary. Dr. Tyner hired most of the new staff, selecting teachers from Ardmore Elementary School (which was closing), Whitaker Elementary (where she was principal), and various other schools throughout the county. The Academically Gifted program was moved from South Fork Elementary to Jefferson, and three other Exceptional Children's classes were established. In July of 1984, Dr. Tyner resigned, and Dr. Ron Montaquila was appointed to serve as the school's first principal.
That first year, there were three classes of each grade level - a total of less than 400 students. There was limited housing development around the school, and none of the developments along Shattalon (Summerfield, Bent Tree, Chadwick, etc.) that now feed into Jefferson existed. Teachers took their classes out into the fields near the school, looking for the abundant milkweed to feed their classroom monarch butterflies. From the very beginning, Jefferson was a high performing school; we had some of the highest test scores in the county.
The downstairs in the old building house the lower grades (K-2). For a year or more, parents and volunteers worked on painting a huge mural that extended from one end of the hall to the other. It featured several of characters from children's literature. A portion of the wall was preserved and now hangs in the kindergarten hallway.
By the early 1990's, the student population had grown to about 500. A new principal, Steve McGinnis, helped implement several creative innovations at Jefferson during this time period. The Write to Read program was moved from a lab setting to a classroom setting. The IBM Corporation was so pleased with this model that they began to market this idea. Academically Gifted (AG) students began to be served in a resource setting rather than a block program. This change led the school system to adopt this model as part of the system-wide AG revisions in the mid-1990's. Also, Mr. McGinnis adopted a new instructional program where teachers worked with more half-time teachers who were hired to reduce class size. Teachers and students built and grew class garden plots on campus. There was an outdoor classroom, and large national and state maps were painted on the bus parking lot for students to use. Creativity was encouraged and supported! President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty (whose granddaughter was a student) visited the school in 1994.
As Jefferson entered the 21st century, the student population was in the upper 700's. The English as a Second Language (ESL) program was begun. Along with other schools in the system, Jefferson worked to implement the zone choice plan, becoming a school with the theme of "discovering math and science." Many teachers had Project Wild training, and the school developed a partnership with Bethabara Park. The school district decided to re-district middle schools and that meant a change in location for our school. The School Board decided that the current facility would be converted back to a middle school. A forty-one acre plot of land was purchased on Muddy Creek off Robinhood Road. Dr. Moser helped to oversee the construction of the new building, and in the summer of 1999, parents and staff opened the new Jefferson Elementary. The access road to the school off Robinhood was not constructed for a year, so faculty and parents had to loop around Hilltop Drive to enter the school. It was several months before all building projects were completed, and the new school finally became home. Money was raised to add two wonderful sets of playground equipment for the school. In the summer of 2001, Nora Baker was promoted from assistant principal to principal. Mrs. Baker has worked, along with the support of the PTA, to improve the grounds of our campus. A picnic shelter, an additional paved parking lot, a gravel track, and improved landscaping have added both function and beauty to our school.