Wards Creek Elementary is a Shining Example

Posted by: Alayna Oram in Uncategorized

We hear so many sad stories about public school funding being slashed. About how arts and humanities are no longer being taught. About how behavioral and discipline problems are rampant in schools. However, if you visit Wards Creek Elementary School in St. Johns County, you will see a very different reality!

The school was built in 2007 and now teaches over 700 students between kindergarten and fifth grade. The kindergarten to third grade classes have a teacher/student ratio of 1 to 18. The fourth and fifth grade classes are 1 to 22. The school has received an A+ rating every year since its opening! To see how this was achieved, I visited the school. Don Campbell, the principal, was kind enough to give me a tour.

One of the first things you notice walking through the school is how well behaved and polite the kids you encounter are. Campbell said this is because his team sets the standard from the beginning. From day one, they promote character, trustworthiness, caring and discipline. He also says the parent involvement at the school is incredibly high, which helps a great deal. Some days there are more parent volunteers on the campus than staff! This creates an environment where the kids are ready and able to learn, which means teachers get to actually teach! This is one of the reasons they receive over 600 applications for every teaching opening they post.

They also have all of the tools necessary to teach and learn, plus a lot of extras! We visited the media center, which is equipped with a television studio. How do you like that? The students broadcast the morning news and the afternoon updates to the school from the studio.

The classrooms are grouped into “houses”. Eight classrooms share the common area of a house, which has an open gathering area, computer lab and a kitchen for cooking demonstrations and preparing special treats. In each classroom, you will find ceiling mounted projectors, smart boards, video centers and audio enhancements.

The school has certified teachers for art, music and physical education. Each student receives instruction in each discipline. There is a dedicated art lab and an incredible music room. The PE area includes a play area, shaded basketball courts and a kickball field. A new soccer field is under construction.

I was so impressed with the facility and with the attitude of the teachers, staff and children- not to mention the successful results they have achieved! Campbell said that in the St. Johns County school system the principals are accountable for the success of the students – and ultimately the school. He said failing is not an option. So if a student doesn’t learn something, the teacher reteaches it. If the student still doesn’t learn, the teacher teaches it a different way. They will find a way to make it happen. And they love doing it!

I now completely understand why families will move to St. Johns County and World Golf Village just for the schools! If you want to experience this incredible learning environment for yourself, I bet Don Campbell would be willing to give you a personal tour too. It really is something you need to see to believe – it’s that amazing!


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