On Sunday, May 15, 2022, a Closing Ceremony was held for Port Wentworth Elementary School. Superintendent Dr. Ann Levett and Board members gathered with both current and former staff and students to say farewell to the school that is being phased out at the end of this school year. The Port Wentworth Elementary School has been phased out per the specifications of the Georgia Department of Education and will no longer be available for instructional use. At the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year, the facility will be utilized administratively to support operational needs identified by the school district.
The history of Port Wentworth Elementary School began with its first location - a building opened in 1917 on North Coastal Highway where the National Wire Company previously operated. The second location was a four-room wood framed building facing Cross-gate Road between Aberfeldy and Turnberry Streets in 1922. Later, a second two-room building was added next to the original structure. During the early forties, a cement block fourteen room building was constructed. In 1958, the six-room brick annex was built. All four buildings were in use most of the time until about 1963 when the wood frame buildings were dismantled.
The final location is the present Port Wentworth, formerly Ormond B. Strong Elementary, at 507 S. Coastal Highway. The land for the first phase of the building was donated to the Board of Education by the Sugar Refinery, so the students who lived in the village at the Sugar Refinery would not have to walk so far to school. The school was named after the Superintendent of Schools at the time, Ormand Butler Strong. In addition, in 1963 the cafeteria was dedicated and named the Kate M. Phillips Cafetorium of Ormond B. Strong School in memory of Kate Mc-Culley Phillips, who served as principal of Port Wentworth from 1927 to 1949. Later, more land was purchased from the Russell family to make the property more than 19 acres.
Port Wentworth and Strong Elementary Schools were both “stand-alone" schools, until 1971 when they became “feeder" schools with one another. (Example: Students attended kindergarten – third grades at Port Wentworth Elementary, and then the same students attended fourth grade at Strong Elementary. In the early 80's, they returned to standalone schools.) During the middle 80's, major renovations took place at Strong Elementary School adding additional wings, a media center (dedicated to the memory of Josey Winbush, a teacher who was one of the first teachers to integrate the school system in Chatham County) and gymnasium in addition to the 2 wings. In 1988, Port Wentworth Elementary closed its doors after 71 years, and Strong Elementary was renamed Port Wentworth Elementary School; thus, serving all the students from both schools.
The historical fabric of Port Wentworth Elementary includes principals: Ms. Kate Phillips, Ms. Evelyn Flanders, Mr. Iler, Ms. Cubbage, Mr. Lain, Dr. Lintini, Mrs. Penny Maestretti, Mrs. Margaret Washington, Mrs. Marva Harris, Mrs. Freida Porzio, Dr. Deborah Jones, Mrs. Julie Newton, Dr. Tamika Minor-Wright, and Dr. T. J'Nai Gilbert-Collins, over 1,000 staff members, and over 30,000 students. The academic needs of students at the school have been enhanced over the years with programs which include but are not limited to Space Stations Learning Centers, Title I, a Remedial Education Program, Early Intervention Program, English Speakers of Other Languages, Gifted Education Program, Pre-School Intervention, Special Needs Kindergarten, Specific Learning Disability, Speech, Hospital Home-bound, Art, Music, Physical Education, Band, Reading Renaissance, After School Tutorials, 21st Century Learning Centers, Junior Achievement, VISTA Volunteers, America's Promise and Savannah's Promise Volunteers, Quick Think-athon, The Westside Connection Business Partners, Inc., Second Step Program, Family Nights, Share Christmas, Pelican Pantry and many, many more.
Students from Port Wentworth are being redistricted beginning in the next school year to Garden City Elementary, Brock Elementary and Rice Creek School. See more photos from the closing ceremony here.