Castle on the Hill- Our Visit to Cardozo Education Campus

Cardozo Visit May 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Last week, Cardozo High School Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy and his leadership team welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3 / President), Ashley MacLeay (At-Large), Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), and some of my SBOE staff colleagues for a school tour and lively education policy discussion at one of Ward 1’s education campuses. Cardozo Education Campus is essentially three schools in one, with a middle school, mainstream/traditional high school, and an International Academy for English language learners in one building. The historic “Castle on the Hill” campus serves students from grades 6–12 at this neighborhood DCPS school in the District’s northwest neighborhood of Columbia Heights.

During the first portion of the visit, we sat down with Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy to learn more about the unique programs offered at this combined middle/high school. In addition, State Board members engaged in a discussion with school leaders and teachers on different ways to measure academic growth during high school. Academic growth, the progress a student makes over a particular time period, is one of the indicators used by the District in its STAR Framework and in its school report card. This visit was timely as the State Board looks forward to a proposal from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) related to a high school growth measure next month.

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A “First Friday” at Digital Pioneers Academy

By Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow

I had the opportunity to visit Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA) as part of First Fridays—a series of monthly learning tours that spotlight D.C. charter schools. The description “digital pioneer” aptly describes this school. The public charter middle school is the first-ever computer science focused middle school in the District. Deliberately grounded in Ward 7, Mashea Ashton, the school’s founder, and her staff are rounding the corner on the inaugural year of the school, alongside the 120 sixth-grade scholars, mostly local to the Hillcrest community, where the school resides.

With a 1-to-1 ratio of computers to students and with teachers and students using technology tools with ease, everyone in this school is a pioneer. Students at DPA have a 55-minute computer science class every day, but they use their computers all day long. This is striking when, nationally, only 31 percent of seventh and eighth graders use a computer at school every day. [1]

The school adopted the RePublic model for computer science curriculum and instruction, after researching its use in Tennessee charter schools. The approach allows teachers with strong pedagogy and the willingness to learn new content the opportunity to learn computer science material independently and step-by-step, while staying ahead of their students. The 10- and 11-year old students have used Scratch to explore game development, are currently using CodePen to script and view web pages they are developing, and will start programming with JavaScript soon.

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Langley Elementary Touts Conscious Discipline

Langley Elementary Visit 2019

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.  

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A “First Friday” at Briya Public Charter School

Briya Public Charter School

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

What does two-generation learning mean and how has it been implemented in the District? How do public schools establish themselves as the center of their communities? During a recent visit to Briya Public Charter School’s Fort Totten campus, I had the opportunity to witness this two-generation learning approach, as well as see the additional community and social services provided through the school’s partnership with Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center community health center in the District.

  • Two-generation learning – Briya’s mission is to strengthen families through culturally responsive two-generation education. At Briya, parents and their young children learn together. Parents study English—from basic to advanced levels—and practice digital literacy and parenting skills. At the same time, their Pre-K–3 and Pre-K–4 children, as well as infants and toddlers, receive a high-quality early education in dual-language, project-based classes right across the hall. Parents and children also participate in intentional weekly Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time.
  • Briya and Mary’s Center partnership – For nearly 20 years, Briya and Mary’s Center have partnered closely to provide education, health care, and social services for families. Through this partnership—and their shared philosophy of social change—Briya and Mary’s Center exemplify how a public school can serve as the hub for a community.

 

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Center City Shaw – Character / Excellence / Service

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last month, State Board members met with teachers and administrators at Center City Public Charter Schools’ Shaw campus to visit classes and discuss their school. Principal Alicia McCloud, assistant principals Natasha Taylor and Rashaida Melvin, and managing director Demetrial Gartrell welcomed Board Members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) and Joe Weedon (Ward 6) and staff from SBOE and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education to their school.

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SBOE at School Without Walls

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

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Last month, Principal Richard Trogisch and his team welcomed SBOE members Ruth Wattenberg, Joe Weedon, and some of my SBOE staff colleagues to tour the beautiful School Without Walls campus. “Walls,” as the school is affectionately known, is the only DC Public Schools high school located in Ward 2 and is currently an application school. This public magnet high school first opened its doors in 1971, and since that time has become a shining star in DCPS.

During the first portion of the visit, we were treated to a 15-minute senior project presentation from a graduating senior. Every Walls student is required to pass a class devoted to one senior project/paper in conjunction with George Washington University. Each SBOE Board member and staff had the opportunity to provide feedback to the student, who did a terrific job. Every student walks out of Walls knowing how to write a research paper.

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SBOE Stops By Seaton Stingers

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 19, State Board of Education members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3), Joe Weedon (Ward 6), and staff members from SBOE and the Ombudsman’s office visited Seaton Elementary School, located a few blocks northeast of Logan Circle in Shaw. An enthusiastic and multicultural school, the Stingers are a very diverse community of students! The after school coordinator, Ms. Kirkpatrick, was our tour guide and we were joined by prospective parents.

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Seaton has a very progressive approach to technology in the classroom, using a blended learning model starting in Kindergarten. There are also carts of laptops and iPads on each floor of the school, bringing the school very close to a 1:1 ratio for students and computers. There can be more done, however, to achieve that goal of 1:1.

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SBOE Visit to Meridian Public Charter School

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last month, SBOE staff visited the middle school campus of Meridian Public Charter School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, DC. Meridian PCS, which first opened in the 1999-2000 school year, has a total enrollment of roughly 700 students from PK3 to 8th grade.

The school’s mission is “to inspire a passion for learning in our students and to help them build their self-confidence and self-respect through academic achievement.” Last school year, the school was named a winner of Mayor Muriel Bowser and the State Board of Education’s Every Day Counts! Attendance Competition, which recognizes students and schools with exemplary attendance rates.

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SBOE Visit to John Hayden Johnson Middle School

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

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Earlier this month, SBOE At-Large member Ashley Carter, Ward 8 member Markus Batchelor, and staff had the opportunity to visit John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Ward 8. We met with Principal Courtney Taylor, who has been leading the school for three years. She explained that Johnson is a “textbook” scenario of a school that serves majority disadvantaged households: currently 10% of the students are reading on level, and 5% of the students are on-level for mathematics. Her vision is to make all 270 students, or “scholars” as they are known at Johnson, academically ready for high school with the goal of exposing scholars to the unexposed – enabling them to explore a potential college or career choice at least once a month.

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Visit to Chavez Prep Middle School

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow and Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last week, two SBOE staff members had the chance to visit a Chavez Prep Middle School open house. Chavez Prep is one of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, a DC-based charter school network. Serving grades 6-9, Chavez Prep has served Columbia Heights since 2009.The open house, which attracted several prospective students and their parents, consisted of a presentation by Director of Campus Operations Myisha Trice and introductions to the administrative personnel like Principal Kourtney Miller and Special Education Manager Aireen Sampson before concluding in a tour of the school. The administrators were engaged with the potential students present throughout their presentation, asking questions about their favorite subjects in school or what they would want to buy at the school store.

The Chavez Prep MS motto is “to prepare scholars to succeed in competitive colleges and to empower them to use public policy to create a more just, free, and equal world.” Administrators emphasized a dual focus on college and on public policy: at Chavez Prep, middle schoolers not only prepare for high school, but for college and beyond. They use “warm, but strict” methods and a 1-to-1 laptop-to-student model to aspire for success for their hardworking students. This could be seen through student incentives like a school store where students use credits for good behavior and work to earn small prizes or field trips, “Student of the Week” awards, and charts in hallways that display academic accomplishments and the progress of the whole grade throughout the semester.

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