Students, staff say goodbye to closing Winstead, Toisnot schools | The Wilson Times
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WILSON COUNTY SCHOOLS

Students, staff say goodbye to closing Winstead, Toisnot schools

Posted on June 3, 2022

Updated on June 4, 2022

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Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, right, poses with students who were recognized for awards Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, right, poses with students who were recognized for awards Thursday.

Winstead Elementary School teacher Victoria Ivery says goodbye to students and their parents after an awards ceremony Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School teacher Victoria Ivery says goodbye to students and their parents after an awards ceremony Thursday.

Winstead Elementary School fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, far right, hands out awards during a Thursday ceremony for fifth graders and their parents.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, far right, hands out awards during a Thursday ceremony for fifth graders and their parents.

Toisnot Middle School teacher Timothy Deans signs notes to students in the hallway on the last day of school.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Toisnot Middle School teacher Timothy Deans signs notes to students in the hallway on the last day of school.

School board Vice Chairman Henry Mercer, left, was Toisnot Middle School’s first principal. He is pictured on Friday with Wendy Sullivan, the school’s last principal.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

School board Vice Chairman Henry Mercer, left, was Toisnot Middle School’s first principal. He is pictured on Friday with Wendy Sullivan, the school’s last principal.

Toisnot sixth graders Trent Scarboro, left, and Andy Fierro explore a globe in class Friday.

Olivia Neeley | Times

Toisnot sixth graders Trent Scarboro, left, and Andy Fierro explore a globe in class Friday.

Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan watches as students file past her on the last day of school Friday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan watches as students file past her on the last day of school Friday.

Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan signs a note to students on the last day of school Friday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan signs a note to students on the last day of school Friday.

Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, left, poses with students after an awards ceremony Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, left, poses with students after an awards ceremony Thursday.

On the last day of school at Toisnot Middle School, sixth grader Juliet Amevinya writes her story in a journal Friday as other students soclialize in the back of the class.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

On the last day of school at Toisnot Middle School, sixth grader Juliet Amevinya writes her story in a journal Friday as other students soclialize in the back of the class.

Fifth grader Kinston Strickland, right, and classmates pose for pictures with their awards following a ceremony at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Fifth grader Kinston Strickland, right, and classmates pose for pictures with their awards following a ceremony at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.

Fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, left, poses with student Sally Morales-Langley at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, left, poses with student Sally Morales-Langley at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.

Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, right, poses with students who were recognized for awards Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, right, poses with students who were recognized for awards Thursday.

Winstead Elementary School teacher Victoria Ivery says goodbye to students and their parents after an awards ceremony Thursday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Winstead Elementary School teacher Victoria Ivery says goodbye to students and their parents after an awards ceremony Thursday.

Winstead Elementary School teacher Victoria Ivery says goodbye to students and their parents after an awards ceremony Thursday.
Winstead Elementary School fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, far right, hands out awards during a Thursday ceremony for fifth graders and their parents.
Toisnot Middle School teacher Timothy Deans signs notes to students in the hallway on the last day of school.
School board Vice Chairman Henry Mercer, left, was Toisnot Middle School’s first principal. He is pictured on Friday with Wendy Sullivan, the school’s last principal.
Toisnot sixth graders Trent Scarboro, left, and Andy Fierro explore a globe in class Friday.
Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan watches as students file past her on the last day of school Friday.
Toisnot Middle School Principal Wendy Sullivan signs a note to students on the last day of school Friday.
Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, left, poses with students after an awards ceremony Thursday.
On the last day of school at Toisnot Middle School, sixth grader Juliet Amevinya writes her story in a journal Friday as other students soclialize in the back of the class.
Fifth grader Kinston Strickland, right, and classmates pose for pictures with their awards following a ceremony at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.
Fifth grade teacher Victoria Ivery, left, poses with student Sally Morales-Langley at Winstead Elementary School on Thursday.
Winstead Elementary School Principal Corey Walker, right, poses with students who were recognized for awards Thursday.

olivia@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7879

When students walked out of two Wilson County public schools Friday, it wasn’t just for the summer.

Winstead Elementary and Toisnot Middle will be permanently closed, and the last days at those schools were emotional for many.

‘I STILL BELONG TO TOISNOT’

Toisnot Principal Wendy Sullivan said Friday was a “mixed, emotional” day for her.

“Toisnot is definitely a special place,” she said. “Our kids are special. Our staff are special. Everybody has a special place in their heart for our students.”

She said while she looks forward to new beginnings, Toisnot still has a piece of her heart.

Seventh grader Michala Smith said Friday was a sad day for her too. She said she will miss her middle school and her teachers, who have been instrumental for her.

“It’s all coming to an end,” Michala said. “Toisnot was a great school. But no matter what school I go to, I know I still belong to Toisnot.”

Timothy Deans, who teaches seventh grade English language arts at Toisnot, said the final days have been heartbreaking. He’s used the closure as a way to teach his students about embracing change, which will make them better people. He also gave his students some advice.

“I’ve told these students they have a chance to start over, especially the seventh graders moving into their last year of middle school,” he said.

Deans said he plans to teach at Forest Hills Middle School next year and hopes to see some of his former Toisnot students.

‘ONCE A HAWK, ALWAYS A HAWK’

Several former Toisnot teachers and principals walked the halls for the last time Friday. They shared stories, laughs and tears.

It was a bittersweet moment for Wilson County Board of Education Vice Chairman Henry Mercer, who was Toisnot’s first principal.

“It’s mixed emotions,” Mercer said. “I really hate to see the school not be a middle school, but at the same time, it’s part of the pain that you have to make progress.”

Mercer and former staff members posed for a group portrait outside the school just as they did when Toisnot first opened its doors.

“When we opened in 1987, it became the school people wanted their children to attend, where people wanted to work,” Mercer said. “We had spirit.”

Former Toisnot teacher Justine Corbett agreed.

“Once a Hawk, always a Hawk,” she said.

‘THE CHILDREN ARE THE CENTER’

Like others across the district, Winstead students had award ceremonies and enjoyed treats in the last few days of the school year. But it was a sad time for some, knowing they wouldn’t be back in August.

Victoria Ivery, who teaches fifth grade and is teacher of the year at Winstead, said she talked to her students about attending another school.

“Nobody really is sure where they are going, but I told them that, ‘Please know that you are going; so am I,’” Ivery said. “Every school that I have worked at, no matter if it is summer school or any other school, it has been nothing but love for the children because the children are the center.”

Ivery has been with Wilson County Schools for 22 years, starting out as a secretary and then becoming a teacher. She’s worked at Winstead for seven or eight years.

Ivery said children are resilient.

“I know they are going to accept wherever they go,” she said. “I told them we just went through two years of pandemic, and their scores rock this year. I told them that. If you can overcome that hump, you can overcome anything.”

‘IN REALLY GOOD HANDS WHEREVER THEY ARE’

Fifth grader Kinston Strickland, who has only been at Winstead one year, said he learned a lot in the school’s final year.

“The teachers helped me figure out stuff that I didn’t know,” Kinston said. “It’s been a good school. We had some good days, but its time’s up now. It’s been here too long.”

Winstead Elementary dates back to the early 1900s, but the school’s current building was constructed in 1953 with some upgrades in 1988, according to the district.

Principal Corey Walker said he was proud to have served as Winstead’s lead administrator.

“It’s a little sad,” Walker said about the school closing.

He told the students to just give it their best wherever they go.

“Give it all that you can to show them how smart we are,” Walker said. “Our emotions are everywhere, but I am sure they are going to be in really good hands wherever they are.”

The Wilson County Board of Education voted in May to close both schools as part of a consolidation plan.

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