Phillis Wheatley Elementary is a comprehensive community elementary school serving 490 students in preschool to sixth grade, with the full spectrum of special education programs and services for English Language Learning students. The school has 46 full-time certified staff and 19 non-certified instruction staff. In addition to serving students within a defined geographic area, it also serves as a site for special needs students in early childhood through sixth grade.
The two-floor building was opened in 1955 and later designated as a science/math magnet school in 1987 in response to a federal school desegregation order. An additional wing was added to the building in 1989 to house new laboratory facilities and expansive library. In 1999, Phillis Wheatley changed from the science magnet theme back to the comprehensive community neighborhood school.
It is the belief of the Phillis Wheatley Learning Community that school is a place where everyone comes together to promote learning. Teachers work as a team. They serve as instructional mentors to the students. Parents are our partners. A vital partnership is created between the home and school that is strengthened by active participation.
Jose Verduzco was born in Mexico, and immigrated to the United States as a young child. He was raised in a Spanish speaking family, and is bilingual. He attended Kansas City Public Schools beginning in kindergarten, and graduated from Southeast High School. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Spanish, a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Special Education, and an Educational Specialist in Educational Adminstration, all from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Jose is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis through the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Jose has worked for the Kansas City Public Schools since 2004 as an English laguage learners para-professional, special and general education teacher, vice principal, and principal. Under Jose's leadership, Phillis Wheatley Elementary earned a bronze award from Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support. In the 2011-2012 school year, attendance at Phillis Wheatley Elementary increased to 96%, and discipline infractions were reduced by 22%.