Principal Wells Looks To Improve School Culture and Achievement for Students at Julius E. Sprauve School for 2011/12 School Year

(Back Row) Ms. Nyiesha Smalls – spanish teacher; Ms. Noellise Powell, sience/social studies teacher; Ms. Dionne Wells, principal; (Front Row) Abigail Alfred, 3rd grade; Emelin Reynoso, 3rd grade; Amaan Raimer, 8th grade.

Dionny, 3rd grade, and Alta Santuna.

The new blue walls at the Julius E. Sprauve School are just the first indication that this school will have see changes at the Cruz Bay public elementary and middle school.

New JESS principal Dionne Wells, who was transferred to the school from Guy Benjamin School at the end of last school year, has been busy all summer getting the campus up to her standards.

With help from parents and the JESS Fundraising Gala Committee, Wells was able to get all of her planned infrastructure projects wrapped up by the time she welcomed students to their first day of class on Wednesday morning, August 31.

“The painting all got done finished before school started which was great,” said Wells. “All the labor done on the school for the painting this summer was paid for by the JESS Gala Fundraising Committee. They really, really helped me a lot.”

Governor John deJongh made JESS one of the eight schools he visited on the first day of classes in the territory. The students were thrilled to the see the Virgin Islands’ chief executive and Wells was complimented by the governor as well, she explained.

“The governor came by on the first day of school and one thing he mentioned to me was that it was that he’d been to every first day at JESS since he’s been in office and this year was the most organized he’s seen,” said Wells. “That felt really great, even though personally I thought we could have been even more organized.”

Governor John deJongh speaks with Julius E. Sprauve students on their first day back to school.

Coming from GBS, where she oversaw a school of 115 students, Wells will be helming JESS’ roughly 215 member student body.

“We don’t have the final count yet because some students haven’t arrived, but we’re looking at around 215 students,” said the JESS principal.

One of the first things Wells changed at JESS was where students report. Elementary school students used to attend classes at the Clarice Thomas Annex across the street from the main JESS campus. This year, all students will be attending classes on the main campus in order keep the school unified, Wells explained.

“It’s still early and right now we’re trying to get things in place with schedules and all that,” said Wells. “It’s working out very well having everyone on one campus. The kids are in the process of learning the campus fully since they have to utilize the whole campus now.”

Wells the different grades in separate areas of the campus, she added.

“I have it sectioned off in divisions with all secondary classes in the main building upstairs and the downstairs we have the primary classes,” said the JESS principal. “Over on top of the home economics building we have all the intermediate classes.

We’re trying to keeping the students in central locations so they are self-contained.”

Looking ahead toward the school year, Wells will focus her attention and resources on three main areas, she explained.

“Right now we’re just getting organized into different teams but we have three main focuses — student achievement, school culture and teacher leadership effectiveness,” said Wells. “Everything we do will be tied into one of those three categories.”

The bright blue paint adorning the walls at the school has given wells a head start in the school culture department, she added.

“We have a jump start with culture thanks to the painting and murals on the walls,” said the JESS principal. “The students look at the atmosphere at the school and feel more appreciated. They say, ‘oh you did all this for me.’”

“They don’t want to lean against the walls so they don’t get them dirty or mess up the murals,” Wells said. “It’s really sweet.”
Wells is excited for the 2011/2012 school year and is looking forward to meeting challenges and raising the bar at JESS, she added.

“I’m really excited,” said the principal. “I’m ready to get things in place for the students and to push their academic achievement to the place where it needs to be.”