Finding its way: JIS ‘a continued success’ in its first year

Published 2:11 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018


It is semester number two for Jemison Intermediate School, and Principal D.J. Nix described progress in the school’s first year as “a continued success.”

Despite their challenges, faculty and staff said the school has seen much productivity in laying a foundation for future school years.

It has certainly not been easy.

“I think we’ve worked it better the second semester, but there was a lot of growing pains in the beginning,” Tracy Johns, JIS technology coach, said.

Some of these “pains” included a no-bell, homeroom schedule and learning how to accommodate sixth graders in an intermediate school environment.

“We’re trying to be that true intermediate, but it’s odd with the sixth-grade component,” Nix said.

Most intermediate schools in Alabama have third through fifth grades, with the exception of JIS and three other schools in the entire state that have fourth through sixth grades.

Library book reading levels are taken into consideration in catering to the grades, and the school aims to provide opportunities for sixth graders to feel challenged and prepared for advancement to middle school.

Year one is “trial and error” for JIS, but it is doing well and learning from both its own and the experiences of other intermediate schools JIS consulted, PTO Director Laura Griffin said.

Nix said an important element to laying a first-year foundation is establishing traditions.

In an effort to accomplish this, JIS created and adopted various programs — including a brand-new art club headed by fourth grade teacher Joe Esther — and organized experiences for the children to glean from.

Scheduled for its second semester, JIS has a Valentine’s Dance on Feb. 14, the inaugural Miss JIS Pageant on Feb. 15, a donor-sponsored drama club field trip to the Alabama Children’s Theater in Birmingham on Feb. 28 and Performing Panthers plays on March 20 and 22.

Other JIS involvement includes Blast from the Past on Feb. 26 and Relay for Life on April 27.

“We’re just continuing to try to find our way and develop what works,” Johns said.