James Island Elementary School is the best kept secret on the island. I have had both of my children here for K-4th grade and have been impressed with the principal (Deborah Davis-Fickling), the teachers and the staff. The cafeteria manager even gives each student a gift on their birthday! I have always been greeted warmly and am able to get a conference whenever I request one. Mrs. Fickling always presents herself calmly and professionally, even in the midst of those who do not have the school's best interest at heart. My children have excelled academically due to the emphasis on creative learning. I can still remember all the words to the song my son's class made up about westward expansion... and so can he! Students who need extra help can get it either during the school year and/or the summer program. There are a small few teachers who seem to be discontent. I think they need to find a different school to work at and take their negativity with them. I do hear parents complain about the lack of parent involvement ,but those are the same parents who never volunteer for anything. It is true that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
JIES has a great outdoor classroom and many science and reading activities. My child is now in 5th grade. He loves his 2nd grade teacher still. She worked with him even after school and even let him babysit the hamster every year! There are excellent teachers like her and some that, well- may need to retire, change grades or get trained better. The school has some awesome people that volunteer and work above and beyond. They also have teachers and staff that arrive late everyday and leave early while I observe from my car picking up my child. I have seen the Principal many times;she never seems friendly and she ignores those leaving early or arriving late. She often seems unprepared. I once tried to meet with her and was told her schedule. She seems very busy out of the building and overwhelmed while in it. Overall it is still a good school. I spoke to her and realized she lives almost an hour away. This may be an issue in managing staff and making decisions when the commute for years in so large. JIES needs a great Principal because Great Principals are loved by almost all students and parents. Next year is Middle school!
This school is where all three of my children attended. The last one finished last year. The CD-1 seemed disorganized and had severe problems but the kids liked the classes. Second seemed to be on the ball with organized lessons and my children finally started truly growing. Third seemed to be teaching to the test and were extremely strict. Fourth was okay but had a ton of homework. Fifth was our problem year. A lot of the students that were high in fifth left and they had a lot of behavior problems. Over the ten years I have seen this school through three principals. None truly had a great vision or plan. The school is growing but is picking up very low and higher poverty students from the area while other schools are getting higher socioeconomic students. I heard my daughter's teacher (who is now retired) say even teacher's have low morale. I asked about teacher goals and she stated this Principal does not do them on time or at all. This makes morale lower. The teachers do not feel they are valuable to the school. The school could be great but rezoning or becoming a magnet would help them.
My grandson I am raising attends this school. He wanted me to write about the school. He and I both like most the teachers. His favorites were cd-3rd. However he said 3rd grade was too hard and they were meaner. He is in 5th now and says that he gets bored alot. He says that he hardly ever has seen the Principal outside of the news show. He wishes she would visit more. My grandson and I both think there should be more creative time. He loves going fishing with Coach and wishes class could be just as fun. His favorite teacher is still from earlier grades. The test scores will go up when students love what they learn.
I have to report that last year in second grade my son learned to read after having a horrific degrading first grade year. He had the best teacher in the whole world. His second grade teacher brought him up and did two years in one in reading. She is a gifted and loving teacher. She cares for all her students and is not negative. First grade was a terrible year. He had a teacher that made comments that were inappropriate on his reports. She was grumpy and bullied the students. She dearly needs to retire. No one should ever be told that their parent should tape their child's mouth on a progress report! The Principal did nothing about this. This year is also great, so far. I am also concerned about the lower scores. The Principal failed to move my child in first grade yet others were moved. The testing grades a plan to raise these school grades. Happy children do better and there are too many angry staff and teachers in that building. On one visit I heard the secretary, the librarian yell at a child and two teachers also. They all are stressed and directionless. I think this school needs a great leader to make it great. We still love JIES.
This school my daughter was in fifth grade and was a horrible year. She was constantly picked by a teacher that had actual fights break out in class. She was told she had an attitude. Now she is in middle school with no issues. She is doing great. I thought for a while it was just my daughter. I listened at a sports match at the tennis center as a teacher from that school described the school. She was coaching but instead was agreeing with other teachers from another school. She said school as made of severely low students with lots of problems. She also says the school had alot of these kids that weren't supposed to be there. She said the Principal does nothing, She called the school second rate and none of the teachers want to be thereand the school needs to be like the others. She made fun of the Principal but it was so bad I can't repeat it here.I can see why my daughter had so much problems. Other teachers say this school is where they send the problem kids. That fifth grade students that are smart all leave cause they can't learn there. My daughter said the school clerk sent her daughter to another school. This proves this school has problems in fifth grade.
As a parent I am very disappointed by the scores that the school received. My children were in 3rd and 5th. The school fail from an A to a B school. I am very concerned. All the other schools went up here. The same teachers that were there last year for those that test are teaching this year and no changes are being made. The Principal when asked about the scores does not seem to have a plan or any idea how to fix the problems. My child in 5th grade said there were fights last year and it was out of control. I do not understand why nothing is done. The teachers are terrific in the lower grades but it seems like upper grades need replacing or something. Looks like until a Principal willing to make changes in those upper grades nothing will get better, I think we are headed away next year. It is a great school however from kindergarten to second. They really have terrific younger student teachers.
My son is in first grade and starting his second year at JIES. First grade is a significant improvement over kindergarten in that the educators are firmer with behavioral issues. The principal has done a wonderful job of turning the school around, by all accounts, and is accessible. The PTA is under new leadership this school year, and they are already doing a fantastic job of communicating to parents, fundraising, and planning new and exciting events. They sound as if they are also going to bring significant improvements to the festival fundraisers the school has hosted in the past. My biggest concern at this point is the limited parental involvement. The greater their involvement, the stronger the school and that is a huge plus for everyone!
We have attended JIES for PreK, K, and 1st for my daughter and 5th grade for my son- The 5th grade teachers are preparing their students rigorously for middle school. I was thrilled at how prepared my son was and their focus on organization and study skills. My daughter is doing well and enjoys going to school- this is her 3rd yr- I feel confident in sending her to school each day- we love the Librarian Mrs Hale and the music teacher Mrs Sim is wonderful- I wish the Art teacher would allow more of a creative process- and stop making the children do their 'art' exactly alike, the art on the walls in school are homogenized and blend together. :( We have a wonderful PTA- who work very hard to fund raise for JIES- they pay for a lot of activities that allow under privileged children to participate in field trips and the like- We are blessed to have an outdoor classroom and the PTA funds help pay for the maintenance. More parents need to step forward and offer their time and ask what can they do, instead of waiting to be given a task or asked- JIES is always very grateful to all of their volunteers- I love this school and will be sad when we have to move on to middle school.
I am a teacher at James Island Elementary. Parents can request conferences every quarter or even set up ones in between. They just need to check "I want a conference" on report cards or progress reports and they will get one immediately. I am impressed as a teacher by the diversity at the school. This school has the great parental involvement and support. Parents are willing to donate and and great about responding immediately. There is daily communication from the class to the child and weekly school communication. I personally respond to emails within 24 hours. We no longer have a lead teacher and our Principal Deborah Davis-Fickling has picked up all her duties as well. She works tirelessly and strives for excellence. I am proud to be a member of her staff. James Island Elementary is one of the best schools in the SouthEast.
My children have been at this school for a year and half now. We are moving mid-school year and they will be attending a different school--it can't happen soon enough! The biggest issue I have: No parent-teacher conferences. This school does not have regular conferences like every other school. You never really know how your child is doing unless you demand a conference. I attend all my children's functions and presentations, and still have yet to have a private conversation with any teacher about my children. The other big issue I have is communication between staff and parents. I attempted to contact the current principal early in the school year, leaving 2 voicemail messages and sending 2 emails over a period of 2 weeks asking her to please return my calls or email back so I could discuss one of my children with her. She NEVER returned any of my attempts at communication. Not a single response. Most parents in rarely participate from what I have seen. The teacher will ask all parents to send in a snack for a party and 2 out of 21 will send something. There are many, many more issues but those are the biggest and most concerning. We are glad to be leaving.
Awesome school...it is a shame that the previous principals gave the school a bad reputation. However, the new principal, Mrs. Deborah Davis-Fickling is wonderful. She is involved, professional, courteous and truly cares about the childrem, parents, faculty and staff. I am proud and lucky that my children attend JIES!!
This is a newer school. It has a lot to offer. We looked forward to our daughter's entry. However after 3 years we are moving to switch. The school has had 3 principals in 3 years. All three were poor. At least last year severe behavior issues were removed. This year the bad behaviors are way worse and nothing is being done about them. The teachers are blamed so the students never get the help they need. The outdoor classroom is great but the teachers need classes that don't have violent children. The teachers love the school but seem stressed out in all grades. The guidance and others are overwhelmed by these crazy students that the Principals have never placed or gotten help for. We are switching to a school where these students are removed before it gets this bad. This should be an awesome school. It just needs an awesome Principal. The District needs to bring in a proven elementary school principal. For now we are going to Stiles Point assigned area to live and withdrawing our child.
My son has been at JI Elementary for a total of six years, and my daugther for two years (both since Kindergarten). They have both had wonderful teachers, and we have been very pleased with their concern for our kids' education. My son has ADD, and we have had an excellent response from the administration, counselors, and the 4th/5th grade team. The outdoor classroom is also an excellent asset of this school. In the past, I don't believe the administration has encouraged much use for it in the curriculum, but the current principal is making it a priority to develop a curriculum (with the help of the CofC education department, DNR, etc.) that includes the outdoor classroom.
K parent. Pulling my child next year. Looks like this new Principal can't keep severe behavior kids out of my sons class! Great teachers, great building, awesome outdoor classroom, horrible Principal.
A gem on James Island. Racially diverse...great teachers. Students are well prepared for magnet middle schools like School of the Arts. Outdoor classroom is a treasure.
My 3 children have been at this school for the past four years. I've had great experiences with the teachers, they seem to go above and beyond with their work, giving challenging assignments, reaching out to parents, and connecting with their students. Although I was not always a fan of the principal, this year there is new leadership and in every interaction I've had with her she is professional, considerate and student focused. The school has an excellent atmosphere, bully prevention program and the students are rewarded for having good behavior. The counselor is available to work with students in need and is always receptive to solving problems or addressing concerns. I think one of the greatest strengths of the school is the diverse background of the student body - the students learn a realistic view of the world and their differences are appreciated. My only gripe is that the same parents seem to be the ones who volunteer and it would be great to have everyone help out. JI Elementary is the best kept secret in the area - don't be fooled by test scores from other schools - they have great teachers and I think the school is a great environment for my kids.
I agree with the last 2 posts. This should have been a great school....they have great teachers and a great facility....and that is where the great parts stop. The previous principal of 6 years was horrible and...just when you thought it could turn around......the new 'interm' principal is even worse....google her name to find out more. As noted in another post, not a very kid friendly school--and that comes straight from the top down. A very pathetic environment for the elementary age. One of my worst regrets is that I did not take my child out of this school.
I have to agree with the previous post. The faculty does not seem very 'kid friendly'. The facility is top notch. The outdoor classroom is great but I never see any students there. My overall impression is the school is primarily concerned with behavior rather than with learning.
The teachers dont care about the students and expect the students to sit quietly every moment of every day. They have no idea how to employ positive reitterations
To start a new list, click OK. Otherwise click Cancel.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of James Island Elementary School on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for James Island Elementary School, including performance data and recently posted user reviews.