Part V, Reflections

Part V: Jefferson Reflections

by Jan Goodman, Principal 1995 – 1998

I joined Jefferson School in June of 1995, after I was offered the job as principal. I was very excited to return to a school after five years as a math education specialist for the Lawrence Hall of Science. Though I loved my job at LHS, I missed the daily contact I had with students and teachers. I wanted to help a school become the best possible place it could be, and Jefferson seemed a great fit.

I knew that I had some big shoes to fill, following Marian Altman. Mrs. Altman was a great principal and had guided Jefferson to a Distinguished School Award and a stellar Program Quality Review. She left quite a legacy.

Transition to K – 5

At the time I was hired, Jefferson was a Grades K – 3 school. In 1995 – 96, Jefferson expanded to become a K – 4 school, with thirteen classrooms and 337 students. Then, the school added a fifth grade in 1996 – 97, and grew from thirteen to sixteen classrooms. The two new grades enabled us to take part in a district-wide instrumental music program.

The transition was challenging for all of us. Our staff worked hard to pull together the curriculum and materials for both fourth and fifth grade classes. Beyond the academic needs, we also worked to address the social and developmental needs of the older children.

Fortunately, I had the help of people like Sam Scott, our school service assistant, and Lotus Go, our school secretary. They both had been at Jefferson for many years when I arrived, and they knew the ropes! When Lotus left Jefferson to work in the Plant Operations Department, she was replaced by Belinda Floyd-Smith, who stepped right in to help keep the school running.

The VP

Another able assistant has been my trusted Vice Principal, a stuffed rabbit I met at a yard sale the spring before joining Jefferson. No one would buy the rabbit, and it was so cute that I couldn t resist paying the 25 cents he cost. I thought the rabbit would be a great addition to my office and could offer sad children hugs to cheer them up. Little did I know that the Vice Principal had some talents in school administration. One day in August 95, I was extremely busy, so I placed the rabbit outside my office with a sign in its hands that said Questions? Ask the Vice Principal. That day, I was able to work for hours without interruption! And so I offered the VP the job of keeping watch over the school when I was away, giving students lots of hugs, assisting with assemblies, visiting classrooms, and learning alongside me. He’s doing a terrific job and definitely deserves a raise.

More Transitions

In September, 1996, another big change occurred at Jefferson: we reduced class size to twenty students in Grades 1 – 2. The smaller classes help support student learning. I wish we had the resources to do the same thing in every classroom. When we reduced class size, we added a portable classroom so that all of our students and the Extended Day Care could continue to stay at Jefferson.

In the Spring of 1996, we surveyed the students about how they’d like to improve the yard, and that Fall, we upgraded the play yard with new asphalt and a large climbing structure. We also started a Student Council for the fourth and fifth graders, supervised by Mr. Harris. In 1997 – 98, we began a conflict management program for students in Grades 3 – 5. Plus, we hired a full-time physical education and science teacher, funded by the district and BSEP monies.

Jefferson’s student population reached a peak of 400 students in the 1996 – 97 school year. We used every available space for our programs. For example, Mr. Poole, our Science teacher, shared office with our speech therapist in the book room! In the next few years, Jefferson’s student population will begin to decrease. We hope to have the space to reduce class size in Kindergarten for the 1998 – 99 school year. Eventually, we’d like to have a science room, too!

A Vision for the Future

To me, a unique feature of Jefferson is the sense of caring and the respectful community that can be found on both the playground (most of the time!) and in staff meetings. One of my priorities as principal is to strengthen respect and this sense of caring among children, parents and teachers.

We share many traditions at Jefferson–the May Fair, Wednesday assemblies, and Chinese New Year come to mind quickly–but our community is best defined by the children developing in our classrooms. How can we best support their needs? What might we do better?

This year we hope to enlist a large group of parents and other interested adults who will work together to answer those questions and create a vision for our school. We’re having a series of community meetings to find out what works at Jefferson, what needs more attention, and what would make all families feel welcome and successful here at Jefferson.

It’s also my hope that these meetings will broaden family involvement in Jefferson. As our vision process helps us establish clear priorities and goals, it should also strengthen our understanding that we truly are a community. I’m excited about this work–which has just begun as I write this in November 1997–and look forward to a strong, cohesive vision to help guide Jefferson School for years to come.

Jump to Another Section of this Book

Part I: The History of Jefferson School
by Mary O’Bannon, Principal 1907-1943

Part II: The History of Jefferson School
by Carrol B. Johnson, Principal 1944-1959

Part III: Jefferson School: Memories of the 1960’s and the 1970’s
by Jean Brooks, with Pam Ormsbyand Mary Ann Furuichi

Part IV: Jefferson Memories
by Marion Altman, Prinicpal 1983-1995

Part V: Jefferson Reflections
by Jan Goodman