This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
J B Watkins Elementary School5
Posted November 14, 2014
- a parent
This is my son's first year at Watkins, and we chose this area specifically so he could attend. Several months in, I cannot say enough good things about this school. It may be overcrowded, but we've seen no negative effects from it. My son told me tonight, on a Friday night, he wished he could go to school on the weekends because he loves his teacher and class so much. And he wasn't kidding! His work is challenging and engaging, and his teacher differentiates her instruction in every subject. The PTA provides wonderful activities, and supports the school well. We are now looking for a house to buy in this district so he can stay at Watkins throughout elementary school.
We moved specifically into this district so our girls would go to Watkins/Midlo/Midlo, and we were not disappointed. My older daughter began in '03-'04 & graduated Watkins in '09. My younger daughter followed 4 years behind & stayed thru 3rd grade when we moved out of state. They both LOVED that school. My younger daughter is now in 6th grade & while she likes her new school, she still misses Watkins. Both girls were well ahead when we moved to AZ, but they were both taught such disciplined learning habits that they didn't become bored or discouraged, but adapted and excelled. Dr. Scott leads by example & takes care of any issues with fairness & dispatch. The teachers (w/a few RARE exceptions) are enthusiastic & care about their students. Those of you with negative comments must remember 2 things: 1) This is a PUBLIC school & teachers/admin are limited to how much they can do based on laws & budgets, 2) Children do not learn in vacuum; you can't send your child to school & expect miracles, you must participate & carry over the lessons at home. Work in partnership with the teachers & school and your child will get more out of it. (And yes, before you ask, I did wotk full-time.)
J.B. Watkins is among the best elementary schools in Chesterfield County. The PTA and staff work together to provide a well-rounded education that includes Mandarin Chinese, Children's Design and Engineering, Performing and Visual Arts that exceed ALL expectations, as well as learner-focused core instruction. The school enrollment is high, but so are the standards and expectations. Watkins is indeed a jewel in the county's crown.
I attended this school after moving to Midlothian from North Carolina. The teachers were more than pleasant, the staff went out of their way to catch me up to speed and make me feel less like a transplant and more like a Virginian, and the pace of the courses was set very reasonably. My education through J.B Watkins is one I hope my own children will receive.
We just moved to the area and did ALOT of research on the schools. I have one at Watkins in 3rd grade and onein Middle school. The new addition is wonderful and the school is really starting to look fantastic. I cannot comment on the trailer situation as my child happens to be in one of the new classrooms. l highly agree with the previous post about the teachers being the most important and not the 4 walls. I am enjoying the wonderful staff and the very involved parents at this school. We have been made to feel very welcome.
We moved here with two elementary aged kids. "Good schools" was what we were looking for. We heard and read that JB Watkins was a great school. Well, if you think 30 students in a detached tiny trailer classroom with very loud air conditioning units is a stimulating environment. I would like to say that the teachers and staff make up for the horribly cramped space but I can't say that is true. After listening to both teachers at back to school night - I am very unimpressed. Huge focus on SOL's (standardized testing), "advanced" or "gifted" classes and AR - accelerated reading programs. The staff is not receptive to any opinions and are defensive about the cramped situation. One of our teachers writes in cursive - I mentioned that my child doesn't read cursive, as it isn't a necessary curriculum for this generation, the teacher said . "Yes, several students have mentioned this but they need to learn to read it some time." Their home work is written on a white board in cursive and to tell you the truth - I can't even read what it says. If you move here - keep your expectations very low - along with your taxes. You get what you pay for.
I am a middle school teacher in the same county, so I am especially critical. Even so, I could not be more happy with my choice to send my daughter to J.B. Watkins. Time and again, I have witnessed the staff at this school put her physical safety and emotional needs first. This school provides an open and caring community that welcomes students and parents. The education she is receiving is as good as it gets in public education. I personally check the surrounding elementary schools (Weaver, Gordon, Evergreen, Robious) on a periodic basis, and J.B. Watkins has the best teachers and an administrative staff that meets the needs of students, staff, and parents. I could not be more impressed with this school. At the halfway point of my daughter's elementary career, I believe that this is the best environment to meet her needs in every way. Thank you, J.B. Watkins staff. You are stellar, and we are so fortunate to be a part of your community.
RE: The May 24 post ... I moved into the JB Watkins school zone specifically for the school and WOULD NOT change that decision if given a re-do. The school is not in decline as was suggested -- it is in improvement. The school is overcrowded because it is a desirable school -- parents move into the zone because they want their children to go to this school. The teachers are wonderful and the administration is supportive. There is an addition ongoing to help accommodate student growth, and scores remain consistent and among the best in the county. According to the state, testing pass rates range from 93-98 percent. That's an A on the county's grading scale. I've had children in trailers and found them to be more conducive to learning because there are not the associated distractions that come from hallways. Besides, everyone knows it's the teachers that make the difference when it comes to instruction ... not the four walls. And JB Watkins has GREAT teachers. Go Coalminers!
Negatives: First the school now has 1050 students and is at 130% capacity. The back of the school contains 11 trailers; 10 single and 1 mega (6 classrooms) and next year there will be only 3, however 2 will be mega (6 & 8 classrooms). An addition is currently being built to include eight new classrooms, a new music room, new art room and new front office however the principal has decided to keep a third of the students in trailers. The teachers are amazing and doing what they can and more, considering the circumstances. The principal refuses to listen to the concerns of parents, stating that it's the school's business and not that of parents. The school is old and in need of many upgrades. Class sizes are too large. Positives: Again, the teachers are wonderful, Chinese is taught from K-5, it's a "children's engineering and design technology school" which means there are a lot of hands-on, creative juices flowing. There is good parent involvement & a very active PTA & many fun events. Unfortunately until the overcrowding is addressed this school and it's test scores will continue to decline and sadly help is way off. I do not recommend moving here for this school.