Time capsule speech presented by Juli Ventura

  • In 1925, two school communities, Piney Grove and Jeffreys, decided to merge and raise money to build a single school for children living near the Creedmoor Rd. area. Many families were members of the Baptist Grove Church, which supported the money raising effort with barbecues, box parties, and other fundraisers.


    Dockery Peebles Sr. and his wife Mary Peebles, gave 3 acres of land for the specific purpose of raising a cotton crop to earn money for the new school. Children from both Piney Grove and Jeffreys schools picked cotton after school. One day a week, parents from both school communities would care for the cotton crop, with men plowing the crop, while women chopped it. Additional money to support the effort was contributed by the Rosenwald Fund. This was a fund established to help communities desiring financial assistance for African Americans. The Rosenwald Fund was named after Julius Rosenwald, a man whose philanthropic efforts helped boost education for African Americans in the rural segregated south, by helping communities build schools. Through the untiring effort of the community members and the Rosenwald Fund, enough money was raised to build the school.


    Lengthy discussions were held to find an appropriate site for the new school. Mr. Lockhart, Superintendent of Wake County schools at the time, directed surveyors to measure the distance between both Piney Grove and Jeffreys schools to determine a midpoint between the two communities. The property closest to the midpoint was owned by Mr. Peebles. 


    The school opened in 1926, with four rooms and three teachers. Superintendent Lockhart recommended naming the school “Jeffreys Grove” combining the legacy of the two former schools. The school was heated with potbelly stoves, which helped make the school environment warm enough to house students from 1st to 7th grade. There were 3 teachers and one of them, Mr. Freeman, also served as the principal. Mr. Peebles’ home telephone was used as the school's line for many years as Jeffreys Grove was not wired for a telephone line. Phone calls were made to the Peebles’ household, asking members of the family to deliver messages to the school staff. Mr. Freeman, who was 75 years of age, retired as principal of Jeffreys Grove after his first year, and Mrs. Estelle Smith, who was one of the three teachers on staff, was appointed principal. Mrs. Smith lived in the Peebles’ home during numerous bouts of inclement weather.


    In 1935, five students graduated from Jeffreys Grove with plans to attend Berry O’Kelly High School. However, there was no available transportation for the children. Mr. Peebles furnished a car for the students to attend high school. A year later, Mr. Peebles asked the school board to provide bus transportation for the high school students. The first bus driver was Mr. Peebles’ oldest son, with bus driving duties handed down through his sons for 13 years.


    In 1949, seven schools were consolidated with Jeffreys Grove, which created a need for a new cinder block school building at the same location. Additional buses were added. Mr. Peebles continued to pay property taxes on behalf of the school. In 1957, The Peebles signed the land deed over to the school, ensuring the continuation of Jeffreys Grove School. In 1968, additional property from the Dockery Peebles’ land was sold to the Wake County Board of Education for school bus parking. 


    As the school population continued to grow, a new wing was added in 1971, and over 16 trailers became part of the school campus by 1994. In 1995, the entire school was relocated to Hilburn Drive Elementary school until a new two-story building was completed. The 1996/97 school year began in the new building, which houses us today. The school served 600 students with 30 teachers, specialists, and teacher assistants. In addition to regular education programs, Jeffreys Grove provided classes for children with special learning needs, preschool, and English as a second language students. In 1996, the new Jeffreys Grove Elementary School was dedicated to the late Dockery Peebles Sr. and the time capsule was created. 


    Mr. Peebles’ legacy at Jeffreys Grove continues, as his family lives near the school and his great granddaughter, Hannah Kearney, graduated from Jeffreys Grove in 2004. As a fifth grader, Hannah was selected as the Jeffreys Grove student of the year. Mr. Peebles’ memory was honored in 1996 at the dedication program of the new Jeffreys Grove School. His portrait was hung in the lobby of our school, and remains there today, and material from that day was placed in the time capsule we revealed. Thousands of children in Wake County have received an education by virtue of the hard work of a community through the guidance, generosity, and dedication of Dockery Peebles Sr. 


    Since 2011, Jeffreys Grove Magnet Elementary has been home to a Full Spanish Immersion program, the first in Wake County. Full immersion means that children in the program are learning what every child needs to know (Math, Reading, Science, SS), but they learn that content in Spanish. The Spanish Immersion program offers a unique benefit to our students -  bilingualism. It also offers a unique gift to our school community at large and that is the richness of an international visiting staff. Our Participate teachers share their different cultures and perspectives with their professional learning teams and in our hallways, bringing global perspectives and cultural awareness to our everyday interactions.


    In 1996, when the time capsule was created, the mission of Jeffreys Grove School was to provide a high quality educational program that enabled students to reach their full potential within a safe, caring environment. The mission has not changed. Jeffreys Grove Magnet Elementary provides a relevant and engaging education and graduates students who are collaborative, creative, effective communicators, and critical thinkers


    While principals, teachers, and cohorts of students have cycled in and out of buildings that have seen upgrades and renovations, one thing remains constant, the Jeffreys Grove Community continues to be the pillar that sustains the work we do for kids. From our PTA, to partner faith organizations, to our families, staff and neighbors, we are thankful for the power of a community that values education and the needs of our children. When we think of our history and legacy, the words community, dedication, vision, advocacy, partnership, generosity, diversity, all come to mind. These same values characterize us today and charge us to continue to celebrate and uplift the Jeffreys Grove Community.