By Jennifer Robinson 2002
“The New Perdue”
Perdue Elementary opened its doors over a decade ago, but since then the school has undergone two major divisions due to overcrowding. Still, these major transitions have done little to shake the strong educational foundation of the school and have in fact done much to improve the quality of the school’s education.
Now serving only third through fifth grades and 425 students—a drastic reduction from last year’s 1203 students in kindergarten through fifth grades —teachers and administrators at the “new Perdue” have more time and energy to pour into each individual student. Although Perdue’s philosophy has always been to make every child feel important, the two-thirds reduction in student population has enabled the school to realize its goal even better.
“I am able to do more with all my students,” said Perdue Elementary Principal Erin Wood. Wood added that teachers are now able to “present a better learning environment with fewer interruptions,” and major decisions no longer have to revolve around trivial matters such as bathroom breaks.
Perdue Elementary Counselor, Julie Davis, who has worked at the school since it opened in the early 1990s, echoed Wood’s positive comments on the smaller school size: “Fewer students has allowed for more flexibility with scheduling of classes, new ideas for teaching, tutoring students on an individual basis, and opportunities for getting to know individual students better,” Davis said.
Perdue’s broad academic curriculum includes reading, math, social studies, and science/health, as well as the arts, with reading being a primary emphasis.
“I want all of our students to become avid readers and to find the joy in reading,” Principal Wood said. “So much of their knowledge in the future will be from what they read.” Not to mention, Wood added, research shows students who read more score better on standardized tests, and he hopes his students will do just that.
In addition to daily reading lessons, plus thirty minutes of individual reading time every day, Perdue Elementary students take an active part in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. Students receive rewards for scoring points in the program, including the possibility of having their names added to the “I Beat the Principals Plaque,” which is displayed in the school hallway, if they score a higher number of AR points than the principal.
Wood’s friendly competition with the students is only one component of the upbeat, dynamic leadership with which he has provided the school during his past five years as principal. Clearly admired by the whole Perdue community, Wood holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University, and he had sixteen years of experience in education before coming to Middle Georgia, where he first worked at Feagin Mill Middle School.
“Wood sets a comfortable tone for the entire school with his positive attitudes, praise and recognition of faculty dedication, and concern for the welfare of others,” Davis said. “This principal’s laugher is often heard throughout the office and hallways… Students really admire and respect him, as they know they can have fun with him, yet must continue to follow the rules.”
Davis said Wood is “quick to volunteer to have pies thrown in his face, dye his hair, or be sprayed with silly string as an incentive for children to accomplish a goal.”
Wood seems to spread his enthusiasm and dedication to the rest of Perdue’s excellent faculty, whom he said he deems “one of the best staffs in the county.” Both Davis and Wood emphasized Perdue teachers’ intense concern for the self-esteem and welfare of each individual student. According to Davis, over half the faculty members hold advanced degrees in education, and Wood said their training shows in the professional way they handle their jobs.
Parent involvement is a large part of the explanation for Perdue’s success as a school. Without parents’ financial as well as non-monetary assistance and volunteerism, the faculty and administration could not spend so much time focusing on interaction with the students. The school’s parent-teacher organization (PTO) is strong and has given money for playground equipment, technology, decorations, and a pavilion, and it is in the process of buying new globes and maps for each classroom, Davis said.
Extra-curricular activities at Perdue Elementary include Student Council, Drama Club, Ecology Club, Dance Team, Art Club, Chorus, and a Jump Rope Team. In addition, the school has a computer lab with twenty new Compaq computers, a large music classroom, and a sizable art classroom that includes a kiln for pottery.
“The great facilities, the dedicated teachers, involved parents, and well behaved students contribute to the excellence of David A. Perdue Elementary School,” Davis said. “The high standards expected by the parents, the faculty, and the staff contribute to the uniqueness of our school” #
David A. Perdue Elementary School
115 Sutherlin Street
Warner Robins, GA 31088
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