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A building does not define quality education

By Bonnie Simmerman • Nov 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM

There has recently been much talk about Jonesborough Elementary School. Because there are two sides to every story, I thought it would be helpful to show a different perspective of the school. Having taught there for 26 years, I think I can give a clearer picture than someone who has only visited the school once.

Yes, the building does need to be improved. The concept of open classrooms was probably not the best way to build schools, but like many other things, that was thought to be best at the time.

I am not an architect nor a builder, so I do not know what is the best way to provide a better school now. I will let people who know more about that than I do solve that problem. I do know, however, that over the years many good things have taken place in the present building.

There have been many wonderful, caring teachers who spent many years there. There was a closeness between many of these teachers and their goal was to do the very best job possible with what they had. The open concept did provide excellent opportunities for teachers to share teaching strategies, materials, strategies, and resources. Our four children attended Jonesborough Elementary and were very fortunate to have had many excellent, hardworking teachers.

Even after retirement, many of us still get together and enjoy fellowship with each other. We do not like to see our school referred to in a negative manner. Probably students who attended Jonesborough Elementary feel the same way.

How much education was going on during those years? Look around in our community and you will find former Jonesborough Elementary students who are now a judge, mayor, businessman, computer programmer, musician, teacher, school administrator, engineer, minister, law officer and college professor. In addition to these professionals, there are many who work among us in restaurants, health care facilities, stores and daycare centers who were educated at Jonesborough Elementary as well.

Current students have a wonderful opportunity for a good education if they apply themselves. None of these students should be made to feel that they are receiving a substandard education.

The building does not make a good student. There must be good administrators and teachers who do their best and caring parents who provide a good home life for their children. Many senior citizens in our area can remember attending a one-room school or one with only one teacher for three grades. These people still got a good education. A desire to learn was there. It can still be found in an out-of-date building today.

I would love to see a beautiful new Jonesborough Elementary School in place of the present one, but I realize that budgets must be met and many factors must be considered before making such decisions. When I was still teaching there we would often say, “Wonder if they couldn’t just build some walls to close in the classrooms.”

We were always told that could not be done. I don’t know if that is possible to do now or not, but I hope the powers that be make the right decision and that we will soon have an excellent facility where the wonderful learning can continue.

Bonnie Simmerman of Boones Creek is a retired elementary school teacher. She can be reached at simmermanb@embarqmail.com

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