White Oak Elementary School
6442 Suwanee Dam Road; Sugar Hill, GA 30518
Years Principal 2009–Present Jean Loethen-Payne
School Colors: Chocolate Brown and Light Blue
School Mascot: Owls
Board of Education
Daniel D. Seckinger - Chairman
Dr. Robert McClure - Vice Chairman
Dr. Mary Kay Murphy
CEO/Superintendent: J. Alvin Wilbanks
Architect: Lindsay, Pope, Brayfield & Associates., Inc.
Contractor: Nix-Fowler Constructors, Inc.
Dedication Date: 2008
White Oak Elementary School has a long history in Gwinnett, tracing its name back more than 100 years to a one-room schoolhouse. The first White Oak School stood nestled among a grove of white oak trees near the location of the current
elementary school; it operated from about 1900 to the late 1920s. Typical to the times, 20 students, divided into three grade levels, were taught by one teacher, Miss Ali Vincent. White Oak was one of a very few public schools available to the residents in the extreme northeast corner of Gwinnett County, which was a booming farm community in the early 1900s. The foundation of the original school still rests on the property near the intersection of Suwanee Dam and Buford Dam.
The current facility has an interesting history in itself, it first opened in 2008 as Lanier Middle School, housing the 6th grade students. White Oak Elementary School was officially opened in 2009 by Jean Loethen, Principal, along with the staff whose vision was and still remains for White Oak to be a place where everyone thinks and works together, where teaching and learning is interactive, where small group inquiry crosses the curriculum, and technology expands student and teacher learning beyond the walls of the classroom. The staff, students, and families embrace this vision because they are a community of thinkers, learners, and leaders. White Oak is part of the Lanier Cluster which was established to relieve the North Gwinnett Cluster. White Oak shares a campus with Lanier Middle School on the same property as the original White Oak School.
Today much has changed in the area surrounding White Oak Elementary School. What hasn’t changed is the commitment to an education that produces life-long learners. The faculty of White Oak continues to be dedicated to the students, families, and community maintaining a continuous focus on teaching and learning with an emphasis on student learning.
White Oak Elementary has achieved many honors since its opening and dedication ceremony in 2009 which include:
- The Counseling Program at White Oak received the National RAMP Award from the American School Counselor Association. The RAMP designation, awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA National Model, recognizes schools committed to delivering a data-informed school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment. The White Oak School Counseling Program was honored with this award previously in 2011 and 2014.
- Since 2010 White Oak has been designated each year as a No Place for Hate School by the Anti-Defamation League. This program focuses on challenging bias, fostering inclusiveness, as well as understanding differences. This is achieved through intentional discussions and activities.
- In 2020 the Media Program at White Oak received the Judy Serritella Exceptional Library Media Program award presented by the Georgia Library Media Association. This award recognizes library media programs that empower
students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information both in vision and in practice. Exceptional library media programs are ones that demonstrate these characteristics in a consistent and effective manner.
- White Oak Teachers of the Year received recognition at the County Level with Kristy Shea, First Grade Teacher, being named as a Semi-Finalist in 2020-2021 and Janelle Draper, Fourth Grade Teacher named as a finalist in 2015-2016.
- The White Oak Robotics Team has experienced much success while competing in the Georgia First LEGO League competition, receiving honors and recognition for their creativity, problem-solving, and engineering. In 2019 the team earned
the title of Regional Champions then at the State competition the team earned the Most Innovative Solution to a Problem Award. The first White Oak’s Robotics Team received a Super Regional Award for their robot design in 2018.
- White Oak, along with the Lanier Cluster, received the P21 Designation, honoring their work in preparing students for their future by their engagement in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
- In April of 2016, White Oak Elementary was recognized by Georgia Department of Education Superintendent Richard Woods as the first GCPS STEM-certified elementary school as well as one of the few schools in Georgia to have a school-wide certified STEM Program.
- Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels, co-authors of Comprehension and Collaboration, Inquiry Circles at Work spent a day of learning with us.
- The School’s inquiry and technology initiatives were honored through grants from; GCPS Innovation and Transformation Grant and The Lanier Education Foundation.
- White Oak was chosen as a host school for participants of the International ASCD Convention. Educators from around the world spent a day of learning with the staff.
- The P.T.A. supported the school in winning the Fire up Your Feet Contest for high physical activity; receiving a $2,000 grant for the Physical Education Program.
- In 2015, the Lanier Cluster received the district’s Innovation and Transformation grant to support their Performance-Based Learning and STEM efforts.
- Thanks to the efforts of the school’s Environmental Education Committee and the PTA, White Oak has a strong environmental education program that has been recognized with honors and awards from the Green Education Foundation.
Awards and recognitions include: Green In-Action Award, Reaching Higher Green & Healthy School Award, and Pace Award Winner - School of the Year. Clean Air Campaign.
- Counselor Jennifer Diaz was recognized as the 2012-2013 Gwinnett Elementary School Counselor of the Year.
- The PE department and Ms. Warnock’s class received a $10,000 grant from the NFL Play60 Program which was used to enhance the playground area with the installation of a track.
- The school was a Bronze Award Winner in the 2011 Single Statewide Accountability System (SSAS) Award for Outstanding Student Achievement. White Oak Elementary School was one of only 58 elementary schools in the
state of Georgia to receive this award.
- White Oak is the only GCPS elementary school with a fifth-grade band.
WHITE OAK MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the staff of White Oak Elementary is to facilitate a safe and supportive environment where excellence in learning for all children results in students who are thinkers, learners and leaders.
WHITE OAK BELIEF STATEMENT
The White Oak School Community believes:
- Student learning is the primary focus for the school.
- Decisions are made based on what’s best for student learning.
- Students learn in different ways and should be provided with a variety of instructional approaches to support their learning.
- Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process.
- Exceptional students (e.g., special education, limited English proficiency, and gifted, etc.) require special services and resources.
- A safe and physically comfortable environment promotes student learning.
- Teachers, administrators, parents, and the community share the responsibility for advancing the school’s mission.
- The commitment to continuous improvement is imperative if our school is going to enable students to become confident, self-directed, lifelong learners.