JIES is a fantastic school! Parents who are questioning whether to send their child to this school really need to talk to parents who actually do send their children here. I thoroughly researched all of the school options and I got rave reviews from every single parent I spoke with about JIES. Teachers care about their students and you will feel lucky your child is in a smaller school that puts kids first. You can rest assured your child will be safe and well cared for. Tour the school and you will be won over.
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!