About Our School

Who Was Phillis Wheatley?

Phillis WheatleyPhillis Wheatley was both the second published African-American poet and first published African-American woman. Most scholars believe she was born in 1753 in West Africa, most likely in present-day Gambia or Senegal. She was sold into slavery and transported to British-ruled Boston, Massachusetts, on July 11, 1761, on a slave ship called The Phillis. She was sold to a wealthy Boston merchant and tailor, John Wheatley, who bought the young girl as a servant for his wife, Susanna. They named the young girl Phillis, after the ship, and she was given their last name of Wheatley, as was a common custom if any surname (last name) was used for slaves. The Wheatley's daughter, Mary, tutored Phillis in reading and writing. By the age of 12, Phillis was reading Greek and Latin classics. In 1775, she published a poem celebrating George Washington, entitled, "To His Excellency, George Washington." In 1776, she was invited to George Washington's home as a thanks for the poem. Phillis was legally freed from slavery in 1778 and later married. Wheatley went on to write more poetry but was unable to have it published because of her family’s financial state. Phillis Wheatley died December 5, 1784.

Information derived from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillis_Wheatley

History of Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Opening in 1882, the California Colored School was located in the California area of Louisville. According to legend, the area was named in honor of California because pioneers on their way to the Golden State briefly settled there. Alternatively, the name may have originated since the area was considered the “far west” of Louisville at one time. The California Colored School was renamed in honor of Phillis Wheatley in 1911. It was located between 16th and 17th Streets. In 1914, the school moved to 1624 W. St. Catherine Street. The city’s other California School closed in 1961, and its student population was merged with Wheatley. A new school building was occupied at 1107 South 17th Street in 1962. In 1980, Wheatley became the first elementary school in Jefferson County to use microcomputers. In 1996, the Jefferson County Board of Education corrected a spelling error in the school’s name, changing it to the correct Phillis Wheatley from the incorrect Phyllis Wheatley.

School Slogan

We are:
A community of learners committed to excellence!

School Vision Statement

Each student at Phillis Wheatley Elementary will be reading on grade level upon the completion of third grade and will be at or above grade level in all core subjects (reading, writing, math, science, social studies) upon entry into middle school.

Mission Statement

We pledge to work collaboratively to provide intentional, high-quality instruction in order to educate and prepare our students to compete and contribute to society throughout life.

Belief Statement

We Believe
  1. We have to develop a community of self-sufficient learners.
  2. We have to work to positively develop our student’s intellectual, social/emotional, physical, and moral well-being.
  3. We have to work together to create and sustain a positive, safe school community that is conducive to learning.
  4. We have to work together to plan and implement high-quality instruction based on content standards.
  5. We have to assess student learning daily and differentiate instruction based on data in order to meet the varying needs of students.
  6. Learning is a lifelong process, and we must model this to our students by continuing to seek out opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
  7. We must include families and the community and communicate to them the progress and needs of our students.
  8. Each student has the ability to learn, and we must guide them in reaching their full potential.

Why Choose Phillis Wheatley Elementary?

  • We are an Elementary Redesign school; meaning we have reduced class sizes. Many of our classes at each grade level will not exceed 20 students. This allows for increased opportunities for more individualized instruction, resulting in increased student achievement.
  • As a part of our school’s redesign model, we are fortunate to have a registered nurse on site.
  • We also offer the Breakfast in the Classroom and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs, which emphasize a healthy eating lifestyle.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors

Extended learning opportunities through Extended School Services (ESS) and our summer learning initiatives; in particular through our partnership with the YMCA. Each summer, our students going into first and fifth grade are offered an extended learning opportunity through the YMCA. The focus of the extended learning program is on literacy. The program is designed to help prevent the effects of the “summer slump,” which is the loss of learning during the summer months.

Elementary Redesign Program

Application code: 182/OPA (optional program)

Looking for a school with small class sizes and the individual attention that improves student performance? Seeking a school culture that supports and promotes confidence and good health? Look no further. Wheatley is one of the district’s schools offering small classes and a full-time nurse on site. Wheatley is a Community, Autonomy, Relationships, Empowerment (CARE) for Kids school with daily lessons and group activities that will help your child build social skills for middle and high school.

Math/Science/Technology and Humanities Program

Application code: 182/MGA (magnet program)

Designed to strengthen students' academic skills and problem-solving abilities, the program provides hands-on learning activities in a laboratory setting. It also enhances the students' appreciation for cultural arts. The humanities component of the program engages students' imaginations, enhances their appreciation for cultural arts, and offers them opportunities to study music, art, dance, and drama.

To apply to one of our programs, send the Elementary Student Assignment Application to the Optional, Magnet, and Advance Programs Office. Wheatley staff members then may contact you and ask for additional application materials. Transportation is provided for most district students who are accepted into the Math/Science/Technology and Humanities Program.