About Us » School History

School History

History of Stoner-Thomas School

The Children’s Center was organized as a day school for Trainable Mentally Handicapped (TMH) students by their parents in 1955, and in September occupied the basement of New Friendship Church.  Donations, fundraising events, and tuition provided the money to employ personnel, purchase two station wagons, and operate the school.

In 1957, the Children’s Center became state-supported, and 1958, it moved to a new facility built exclusively for TMH students.  Located on County School Road, the original building contained four classrooms and a cafeteria.  A staff of four teachers, four teaching assistants, and two cafeteria staff served 22 students.

Four additions have been made to the building: 1) a multi-purpose room and named the Stoner Room in honor of Paul and Ruth Stoner in 1972) a vocational room in 1977; and 3) four vocational classrooms in November 1987, and 4) a 8 classroom POD and Playground was added in 2016.

Mrs. Mary Belle Patterson was the first principal (1960 – 1974).  Mr. James Johnson succeeded her (1976-1991).  That fall, Mr. Cliff Pickett assumed responsibility for the school from (1991-1999).  In July 1999, Mr. Rick Hoffman was named Principal and retired in July 2006.  In July 2006, Mrs. Marivee Miles was named Principal.  In July 2012, Dr. Jonathan Hayes was named Principal. In July, 2018, Mrs. Sloan Denny, was named Principal and retired in July 2022. In July 2022 Dr. Angela Charles was named Principal and is currently serving in that position.

In January 1999, the Davidson County Children’s Center Advisory Council petitioned the Davidson County Board of Education to consider changing the school’s name to Stoner-Thomas School.  This name was chosen to honor Paul and Ruth Stoner and Bernard Thomas.  Mr. Paul Stoner co-authored Senate Bill 151 in 1957 to provide state support for public separate schools.  His wife, Mrs. Ruth Stoner was the first state president of ARC.  Mr. Bernard Thomas was responsible for assisting in the early transportation of students to the Children’s Center School and also served as chairperson of the first school advisory council in 1991.

The advisory council, school staff, and parents contended that the name Children’s Center no longer reflected the total school mission for the school or the functional curriculum that provides for a wide range of student ages 5-22.  February 1, 1999, the Davidson County Board of Education voted unanimously to change the Davidson County Children’s Center to Stoner-Thomas School.  Mr. Cliff Pickett served as the first principal of Stoner-Thomas School.

The school staff believes that each child is unique, born with varying degrees of abilities and limitations.  Through love, nurturing, understanding, and the best possible education, each can be taught to greatly improve his/her quality of life.  Each student should be given the opportunity to become as self-sufficient as possible, thereby maximizing his/her ability to become a functional adult with the greatest possible amount to independence.  Students should be involved in the life experiences.  All students require a functional communication system that will enable both the verbal and nonverbal student to communicate.  Because language skills are vital in all areas of life, they are incorporated into every domain.

All students have a right to social, emotional, and physical nurturing with a goal of developing a positive self-concept and self-esteem.  Since parents are the first teachers of the students, continuing communication and support between the family and school is of vital importance throughout the student’s career at the school.

When an individual graduates from Stoner-Thomas, it is the school’s ultimate goal that he/she will be able to function adequately in his/her culture and community.  Herein lies the school mission statement; “Educating for Independence.”

Stoner-Thomas School currently serves 92 students, ages 5-22, and houses a staff that includes: 12 certified special education teachers; 1 full-time speech/language therapist; 1 full-time social worker; and 24 teacher assistants.  Itinerant personnel assigned providing Part-Time services include:  1 School Counselor, 1 school psychologist; 1 adaptive physical education teacher; 1 physical therapist; 1 occupational therapist, and our Enrichment Team including teachers for Art, Music, and Physical Education.

Exceptional Children’s transportation for the Davidson County School System is coordinated by our Bus Coordinator at Stoner-Thomas.  Transportation personnel include:  18 full-time bus drivers and 18 bus monitors.  Stoner-Thomas has one full-time treasurer/secretary, and one full-time data manager/ETMS.  The school has one full-time custodian and one part-time custodian who are both employed 12 months.  Support services are provided by the Davidson County School maintenance department.