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Principal Reflects on Years at Jarman

Special Commentary

25 YEARS: Jarman Elementary students and staff celebrate Jarman’s 25th anniversary. The school opened in fall 1991 during a time of significant growth within the Union school district.

Courtesy Union Public Schools

In recognition of Jarman Elementary’s 25th anniversary, Patti Pitcock, former principal who spent 37 years with the school district, reflects on Jarman’s early years:

Broken Arrow, Jenks and Union Public Schools all opened new elementary schools in fall 1991 to help alleviate student population growth in their districts: Broken Arrow Public Schools opened Wolf Creek Elementary, Jenks opened Southeast Elementary, and Union opened Wesley V. Jarman Elementary.

But just one, Jarman Elementary opened on my birthday, August 21, and what a wonderful time it was! I was fortunate enough to be selected to open Jarman’s doors to over 630 students in grades K-6 as Jarman’s principal. Then-Superintendent Dr. Tim Jenney was the one to recommend me for the position.

Before coming to Jarman, I served as principal of Darnaby Elementary. Having the opportunity to watch a school building be built from the ground up was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I felt many times in the early portion of 1991 that I had two schools to operate.

While it was difficult to leave Darnaby Elementary and the wonderful staff at that school, I relished in the opportunity to create and build a faculty, student body, and parent group that would rise to the excellence that surrounded us at our other sites.

Jarman Elementary was named after Superintendent Wesley Jarman, who served the Union School District from 1975-1990 during some of the most significant growth years in the district’s history. It seemed as if we were building a school every two years during that time.

Students who had previously attended Darnaby and Andersen Elementary were selected to attend Jarman. Both Andersen and Darnaby were experiencing significant housing development in their boundaries, and Darnaby’s student population had reached 900 students.

When Jarman opened, the enthusiasm was high. We vowed not to replicate any other school but to carve our own path to excellence. We had much to live up to because we were surrounded by excellence all across our district.

Jarman was to be Union’s first elementary school to incorporate a different layer of technology than the others, including teacher computers, a Media Retrieval System, and televisions and a telephone in each classroom with a dedicated phone number for each teacher.

It was Dr. Jenney’s vision of infusing technology into the classrooms and making it accessible to our students that was our primary focus in construction. Making sure all of the cable lines were installed for current and future projects was very critical during the construction phase.

The technology allowed me to make announcements from several stations throughout the building, and teachers could access media to be viewed in their classrooms on their television sets. The Media Retrieval System, housed in our library, allowed the staff to access a cable channel or a CD to be shown at a specific time on their classroom televisions, using the telephone numbers for stop, play, rewind and pause.

We often gave tours to neighboring districts and schools as they wanted to see our technology in action.

The internet was just making its appearance, and teachers would learn how to use it effectively to drive their instruction and bring the most current information to their students.

It was the beginning of a very visionary time in educational technology, and these tasks were soon to be replicated at other schools.

The Jarman staff was selected from a number of Union schools, and several others came from outside the Union district. In selecting the staff, I kept in mind that the desire was to have a mixture of experience and a blend of both in-district and out-of-district personnel. Some individuals came with the experience of opening new schools, while others came from districts where ideas could be shared and expanded to become our own. Most important, though, was the teamwork that developed to open our building and to push ourselves to create our identity as the Jarman Patriots.

We voted on the school mascot and school colors and composed a school song and mission statement. Our mission statement—“to enable students to become lifelong learners”—was recited at every assembly, and the PTA had a plaque made that hung in the entry for years.

We touted District Teachers of the Year, Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching of Math and Science, physical education awards, numerous teacher grant recipients, and, at one time, recognition as the Union school with the most National Board Certified Teachers. Jarman had the first Academic Bowl Team that competed in area tournaments and many students who went on to be named National Merit Finalists and Commended Scholars in their high school years.

We were also fortunate to have many volunteers and PTA supporters who worked hard behind the lines to support our efforts and provide the “extras.”

Throughout my years at Jarman (1991-2012), I and our staff saw the district change and grow extensively in the ntortheast section. While this was occurring, redistricting plans were developed to move students to alleviate crowding. Jarman experienced redistricting three different times, which both brought new students to Jarman and saw other students move away. Yet, regardless of where our students came from, we welcomed them as Jarman Patriots.

It was obvious to me, from very early on, that the Jarman staff was special, all of us focused on promoting and motivating each other as we grew together and celebrated each others’ achievements. Through these many achievements, our students flourished beyond what we envisioned.

Happy 25 successful years to Jarman Elementary!

Updated 04-25-2017

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