As the school year opened in August 2010, Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary Principal Lona Pounder was at the helm of a new facility that dwarfs the school’s former home both in size and technology. A key aspect of the Whitesides’ success, however, transferred seamlessly from the old building to the new: a family atmosphere nurtured by involved parents and caring teachers.
Pounder, who came to Whitesides as an assistant principal in 1993 and has been principal since 2003, pointed out that parents are regular visitors to the school, which, like its predecessor, is on Rifle Range Road. They help out in the library, read to students, help teachers with various tasks, monitor kids in the cafeteria and attend field trips. They spend so much time at Whitesides that they have their own room to meet and plan activities.
Pounder added that parents also have helped make Whitesides a better place to learn by donating items including artwork and countertops in the reception office.
“This is a wonderful community,” said Pounder. “The parents are really involved in the school.”
Pounder’s staff includes around 55 full time teachers and another dozen or so who work at more than one school. Their efforts, always exemplary, according to their principal, are now enhanced by three computer labs and a smart board in every classroom.
Approximately 650 students will attend Whitesides this fall, and there’s room for another 150. Unlike in the past, there’s space for students, parents and relatives to attend an event in the cafeteria/auditorium combination. And parking is no longer a problem. Even if the lot is full, there is overflow parking at the Mount Pleasant Waterworks facility next door.
Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School was named for a longtime Mount Pleasant teacher. The school’s principal, who already has been at the school for 18 years, plans to stay a while as well.
“If you love what you do, why would you leave?” she asked. “This is a great place to work. I love the challenges and all the moving parts that go with running an elementary school.”
“The children are excited about learning,” she added. “You can see the light bulbs coming on when they explain what they are learning. It makes you feel good about the future.”
For more information, visit http://whitesides.ccsdschools.com.