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Ready for round 2: JIS kicks off second year as school

It is round two for Jemison Intermediate School, which kicked off its first year as a school last August, and the school is reportedly “happy” to be starting off well.

“We have a little wind behind our wings now, and we are ready to roll,” Principal D.J. Nix said on Aug. 8.

Teachers, parents and the city have contributed to enhancing the facility throughout the summer, and Dr. Greg DeJarnette of the Alabama State Department of Education led a workshop for JIS teachers their first day back.

“We focused on student achievement and servicing the whole student,” Nix said.

Nix said several changes to the school are marking a great start to the year.

These include a 1-1 student-Chromebook ratio, initiating the process for county accreditation and welcoming School Resource Office Ashley Gargus to maintain Nix’s “No. 1 thing” to provide for students’ safety.

Nix said the school is glad to be able to keep the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program overseen by Gifted Specialist Rachel Mims and excited to also be bringing back the art, drama, robotics and GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) clubs after much success their first year.

Becoming a STEM school is JIS’ greatest goal, according to Nix.

Currently, Nix said, “we only can offer it at .5 (STEM effect size), but Rachel Mims, our STEM teacher, will do a great job. She’s already innovative right now with her outdoor classroom.”

Nix thanked former and current Chilton County superintendents of education for their support of the STEM program and allowing its continued existence at the school.

All teachers in science and mathematics must be STEM certified for the school to reach this goal.

Nix said Mims led a recent workshop for teachers which focused on incorporating STEM across the curriculum.

Nix said the school faces some challenges at the start of a new school year.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be funding,” he said.

Ongoing projects include the STEM outdoor classroom, which students across the entire county will be able to benefit from, as well as the JIS-Jemison Elementary School joint Buy-A-Brick fundraiser campaign aimed to ultimately construct a Wall of Tribute between the two schools.

JIS thanks the city of Jemison, Chilton County Board of Education, students and parents for their support of and contributions to the school.