By Julie Souza
Dr. John H. Heard Elementary school on Houston Road in Macon is one of Bibb County’s oldest schools. It is presently an elementary school serving students in grades pre-k through fifth, but has undergone many changes over the years in physical appearance, student population, and the names by which it has been known. Heard faculty and staff are proud, though, to know that the school has been a community school for many years, educating generations of children in Macon.
The Houston Road location has been home to a community school since the mid 1800’s when community members built a three room, one-story wooden structure on the site to combine four one-room schools in the area. The school became the first rural consolidated school in Georgia.
In June 1933 the school was torn down except for an auditorium built in the 1920’s. Much of the timber was salvaged to reuse in the construction of a new one-story, brick grammar school. In September 1934, the school reopened as Dr. John H. Heard School. A special ceremony was held to dedicate the school to the memory of Dr. John H. Heard, prominent community leader and Board of Education member. His family presented a large portrait of Dr. Heard to the school, which presently hangs on the wall outside of the auditorium.
Heard Elementary currently has third, fourth, and fifth generation students attending the school. Their PTA, which was formed in 1920 before the school changed names, is a vital part of the school, and is one of the oldest ones in the state. The PTA at Heard is very active, with a high parent involvement rate. Over the years, the organization has contributed to the school by building an outdoor habitat, purchasing playground equipment, and paving the tennis/basketball courts.
“The Rutland community supports the school with their contributions and time,” Principal Sandra Stanley says, “This is a phenomenal community for they truly love and support this school.”
Parents are welcomed and encouraged to get involved, and Heard has many parent and grandparent volunteers. The Bibb County Board of Education has recognized Heard several times by awarding them with the Golden Apple Award (for the highest percentage of volunteers to number of students), and the Red Apple Award (given to schools with over 16,000 volunteer hours). It has also received the prestigious Juanita Krysalka G.R.E.A.T. (Grandparents-Retirees Excited about Tutoring) Award for the biggest increase in volunteers.
“We make our parents and visitors welcome by creating a warm, inviting, safe environment where high expectations are set, doing your best is encouraged, and students are engaged in learning,” Ms. Stanley says.
Teachers motivate their students by providing challenging lessons and incorporating strategies to reach students who have a variety of learning styles. Teaching strategies include cooperative learning, technology integration, and many hands-on activities to support the GPS (Georgia Performance Standards). Teachers use the technique of assessment for learning, where the students know what is expected of them to learn at the beginning of the lesson. GPS standards are posted in the classrooms and the hallways to keep the parents informed of the skills the students are learning. In addition, students are involved in assessing how well they have learned the skills with rubrics and conferencing with their teachers.
Students at Heard met or exceeded the standards in all areas for the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for 2007-2008.
Heard’s teachers and staff are highly qualified in their areas. They continue to be involved in professional learning in order to be more informed and prepared to provide a high quality education for the students. A needs assessment is done yearly to identify areas to be addressed in professional learning, so that the county and school initiatives can be taught and implemented to the fullest extent. Data analyses are also done throughout the year to assess progress and plan for continued areas of need.
Heard’s goal is to produce successful learners who master the CRCT skills, so that they can meet or exceed the state standards and be better prepared for the future. They share the vision of the Bibb County Board of Education which is, “achievement and performance for every child, in every classroom, and in every school.” #