By Julie Washburn Souza
Part of the Houston County public school system, Lake Joy Elementary School in Warner Robins was founded in 2007 and was accredited in 2008. Serving students in grades 3 through 5, the school has a current enrollment of approximately 570 students.
Principal Dr. Doug Rizer is serving in his 9th year as a principal in Houston County. Prior to being appointed principal to Lake Joy Elementary, Dr. Rizer served as principal at Quail Run Elementary. He has a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University in early childhood education, a master’s degree from Georgia Southern in administrative leadership, a specialist degree from Georgia College and State University in leadership, and his doctorate degree from Argosy University in leadership. Dr. Rizer has been married to his wife Meridith for fourteen years, has a daughter Madison who is 10, and son Hunter who is 7.
Dr. Rizer comments, “Our goal at Lake Joy is to continue to give each child the best education possible. My goal as principal is to make sure we provide a safe, non-threatening environment for each of our students. Lake Joy is a place where students can feel comfortable and express their feelings in a child-centered environment that promotes student learning through the support of teachers and community.”
Students at Lake Joy Elementary enjoy the benefits of all the latest technology, both for safety purposes and education. The school was built with keyless card entries and cameras equipped throughout. All classrooms have overhead projectors, and almost half of the classrooms are equipped with SmartBoard technology, a large interactive digital screen. Lake Joy Elementary also has a state-of-the-art computer lab accessible to all students throughout the school day.
At a time when many schools are cutting media center budgets, Dr. Rizer says, Lake Joy administrators have kept their media center well-equipped. Since the school opened three years ago, their media center has more than doubled its books. For the past two years, Lake Joy Elementary has led the county in the HEA Read Across America program for students in third, fourth, and fifth grades. In addition, the Lake Joy media center received 2nd place nationwide in the Scholastic Book Fair Promotion.
Faculty and staff at Lake Joy strive to ensure that all students reach their highest potential. Of the educators at Lake Joy, 25% have bachelor’s degrees, and 58% have master’s degree. Four teachers at the school have specialist degrees and two teachers have doctorate degrees. Many of the teachers also have advanced certifications.
Teachers at Lake Joy Elementary continue to implement a program called Morning Stars to help struggling learners succeed in classroom activities, as well as state mandated testing. This program allows students to attend a morning tutorial using a research-based technology called ClassWorks.
Lake Joy Elementary also offers many extracurricular activities including Junior Master Gardener, LJTV broadcast team, jump rope team, chorus, band, and clubs which include: art, astronomy, journalism, drama, yoga, PE, music composer, and environmental clubs. All activities are sponsored by a teacher and meet before or after school.
The school’s Chorus was selected to perform at the 2009 Georgia Music Educators In-Service Conference. This conference is one of the largest state conferences in the nation, and Lake Joy was one of two elementary schools in the state of Georgia chosen to perform there. The Chorus was also selected to perform at the NASCAR race in Atlanta in spring of 2010. The County Oratorical Speech Contest winner from 2010 was also a student at Lake Joy Elementary.
In 2010, Lake Joy Elementary was selected as the recipient of the School Bell Award which recognizes 10 schools in the state of Georgia with outstanding programs in the areas of curriculum and organizational leadership.
Lake Joy Elementary is always seeking new ways to engage students in learning and to teach students about the importance of community service. The school was able to obtain a donated bus from the board of education to use as a book mobile. The bus was transformed into a rolling library filled with books of all levels, from pre-primer to adult. The goal of the book mobile is to strive to increase reading in homes that would not normally have access to books. The book mobile visits the neighborhoods that house many of the school’s ESOL families, as well as other families, during the weeks of summer to provide continued accessibility to reading. The book mobile was a huge success last summer with close to 50 students and parents participating each week.#
Lake Joy Elementary School
985 Lake Joy Road
Warner Robins, GA 31088