W.S. Harlan Elementary School is a rural public school in South Central Alabama that serves an average of three hundred students in grades pre-kindergarten through six. Schooling began here in 1903 as Lockhart School, but W.S. Harlan Elementary came into existence in 1924. The school serves students from the communities of Lockhart and Florala, as well as those in outlying areas of southern Covington County.
Many of the students who attend W.S. Harlan are generational students whose parents and grandparents attended the same original facility. However, changing demographics in the area have brought with it many new students who are quickly assimilated into our student population. This year, much like the last several years, we have accepted a sizeable number of students after October 1. The student population of W.S. Harlan has fluctuated between the two hundred nineties and the low three hundreds.
In the early 1900s, the town of Lockhart, Alabama was a thriving lumber town. The Jackson Lumber Mill employed over 1,000 workers, it was once the leading producer of Longleaf Yellow Pine in the world. With such a unique history as a community icon, students see our elementary school as a place to continue the legacy of their historic community. As a testament to this group of people, our school is fortunate to have numerous parent and area volunteers that invest in the education of W.S. Harlan's students.
Due in part to rural economic conditions in the area, the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches has continued to increase significantly to seventy three percent of the student population. W.S. Harlan Elementary School continues to meet or exceed annual academic achievement expectations under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Because of these academic accomplishments in the face of adversity, our school was awarded The Alabama Torchbearer School Award in the 2006-2007 school year. In addition, we were a recipient of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 State Rewards Program and received a total amount of $61,000.00 in award money. W. S. Harlan Elementary was also chosen as one of the top ten high-performing rural public schools in 2008.
Standard academic assessments such as the Alabama Writing Assessment, Stanford Achievement Tests, Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test, and DIBELS have consistently been average or above average for W.S. Harlan Elementary over the years. In order to maintain this level of educational achievement, the faculty of W.S. Harlan elected to seek the establishment of a Continuous Improvement Plan for the school year 2008-2009. The faculty have worked diligently serving on various committees and implementing programmatic strategies to address all areas of the curriculum.
Technology is a key component at W.S. Harlan Elementary. In order to ensure that our students are technologically competent, we focus on various programs that encourage an understanding of basic skills while providing students opportunities to interact with current technological equipment. Students are able to participate in programs such as Compass Learning, Stride, STAR Sportsmanship, Accelerated Reader, and Accelerated Math, Microsoft Power Point, and Alabama Virtual Library by accessing our state of the art library media center or one of our wireless rolling laptop labs. All of these programs are used to enhance and augment classroom instruction.
W. S. Harlan Elementary is also fortunate to be involved with the Alabama Best Practices 21st Century Learning Initiative Grant. The program provides funding for teachers, supplies, and travel expenses for field trips. It also provides students with an opportunity to receive tutoring and exposure to arts education in an extended day program and attendance at a Kids College Program at a local community college during the summer months. We encourage our students to participate in these academic enrichment programs throughout the year.
Our school's mission is to "enable each child to develop personally, socially, mentally, and physically, strengthening skills that are necessary for daily life." It is our core philosophy to create a learning atmosphere at W. S. Harlan Elementary School that is made up of three components. First, there is a genuine "loving relationship" for all students. As a faculty, we don't mind giving hugs and high-fives for a job well done. Second, we are consistent in discipline. We believe that children want and need daily structure in order to succeed in their endeavors. Third, we faithfully teach by the Alabama State Courses of Study. When we add these three components together, it makes for an exceptional place for children to learn and grow.