By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
Earlier this month, Langley Elementary School Principal Vanessa Drumm-Canepa and PTSA President Christina Svolopoulos Robbins welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg, Ashley MacLeay, Jessica Sutter, and some of my SBOE staff colleagues to tour their school. Langley ES is a PK–5 neighborhood DCPS school with approximately 300 students, located in the District’s Northeast neighborhood of Eckington in Ward 5.
During the first portion of the visit, we sat down with Principal Drumm-Canepa and Ms. Svolopoulos Robbins to learn more about the programs offered at Langley. Principal Drumm-Canepa and Assistant Principal Shaunte Jennings have transformed Langley in the past two and a half years through the implementation of a social-emotional learning (SEL) program called Conscious Discipline.
Through the program’s implementation, suspensions have decreased, students feel loved, and teachers are able to more appropriately teach. Principal Drumm-Canepa said Langley has the largest population of students with special needs in the District, with one third of the school population having behavioral disabilities or autism. Principal Drumm-Canepa mentioned that extra resources are needed in order to continue the foundation of success that has existed. Langley hopes for more access to resources for science, social studies, music, and programs like FoodPrints that greatly impact the ability to provide students with a well-rounded education that will benefit them long-term.
The leadership team at Langley works well with DCPS instructional superintendents and feels that they are both heard and supported. The biggest challenge that impacts the administration team is being able to prioritize the many challenges that exist at the school. Administrators emphasized a specific focus on working with special-needs population, while simultaneously meeting the demands of a District-wide push to focus on attendance. Langley educators said that many factors affecting student attendance are out of the school’s control. Sixty percent of Langley students come from “at-risk” backgrounds, and many get to school without parental supervision or are bused in through OSSE’s transportation program for students with disabilities.
Langley educators described disparities in student achievement even within the school, where PARCC scores can vary widely by student demographic subgroup. They said that they would like to see the incorporation of more K–2 student data into the STAR Framework, as well as measures of overall student satisfaction; without these metrics, they said, the STAR Framework scores offer a limited, even misleading view of a rising school.
Finally, Langley educators called for a modernization of their school facilities. Teachers and administrators cited the need to fix the school’s public-address system, add bathroom facilities near the cafeteria, retrofit an elevator to accommodate people with disabilities in the five-story building, and create an overhauled library and resource center that is better equipped to meet more modern demands.
After a lively discussion about ways in which SBOE can partner with Langley, members and staff toured the building and peeked in on students actively participating in classes. We want to thank the following administrators and leaders for taking time out of their day to talk with us about the great work happening at Langley!
- Vanessa Drumm-Canepa, principal
- Christina Svolopoulos Robbins, Langley PTSA president
- Willis Jefferson, instructional coach / STEM coordinator
- Eleanor Maduako, 3rd grade teacher
- Baxter O’Brien, communication & education support teacher (3–5)
- Veronica Hopkins, 1st grade teacher
- Kevin Pettit, behavioral & education support teacher (1–3)
- Stephanie Gunter, Teacher Leader Innovation (TLI) ELA teacher
To check out photos from our school tour, click on our Flickr album.