By DAVID JONES
SCHOOL PROGRESS: Lynda Wingo, executive director of Miss Helen’s Private School, shows the rendering of what her school will look like once four classrooms are added by the end of June. The photo in the background is of Helen Wingo, the school’s founder.
GTR Newspapers photo
Just 12 short years after opening its new facilities at 4849 S. Mingo Rd., Miss Helen’s Private School is making a necessary expansion.
Four new classrooms, needed to ease the crowding of the burgeoning elementary school, had a groundbreaking in March and will be ready by the end of June. The school currently has 15,600 square feet of space and the new classrooms will add about 3,600 square feet.
“It will allow us to add 50 to 60 elementary school students,” says Executive Director Lynda Wingo. “It will ease a crowded classroom situation.”
Miss Helen’s has been serving Tulsa youngsters since 1954 when Helen Wingo began a school for pre-kindergarten students at East 33rd Street and Harvard Avenue. After several years it added kindergarten. About 15 years ago the elementary school came into being. The school starts taking students at the age of three and goes through the fifth grade.
“We’re more than the traditional school,” says Wingo. “We offer multi-age classrooms to serve students at different levels. We may have a student who in terms of age should be in the first grade but is able to read on the second grade level and do math with a third grade capability. We try to challenge each student.”
The combined classes at Miss Helen’s currently have 200 students, which is near the school’s capacity.
The elementary school hours are from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. although the students can be dropped of as early as 7:30 a.m. and left until 6 p.m.
Elementary students who stay late have a unique opportunity to run their own “business.”
“We give them a break after school lets out at 3:30,” says Wingo, “and then they start making crafts to sell to friends and family. Earlier this year the students made Valentine Day pins. They have made greeting cards. The monies collected from sales of these items are pooled and donated to worthy causes. Last year sales came to about $4,000, which helped to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged children.
“In the past students have also provided money or food for John 3:16 and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. By doing this we are encouraging the students to give back to the community.”
The expansion, Wingo says, will not come at the expense of the school’s playground. “We purchased property adjoining the school which we’ve been using for overflow parking. Since we rarely have that, it has basically been lying vacant. The playground will utilize that area and will actually be bigger than it was before the construction of the new classrooms began.”
What began as a tiny pre-kindergarten school a half-century ago has grown in numbers and is bursting at the seams.
Miss Helen would be proud.