January 20, 2016

Launching Meet the Principal!

principal1.jpgI’m excited to launch Meet the Principal, a set of videos to introduce our incredible elementary school principals to the community. Each week, I’ll be sharing a new video as a part of this series. I hope you will be inspired to support our Ward 1 elementary schools after hearing about their vision for their schools and love for their students. Please share these videos with others interested in learning more about our Ward 1 schools!

Click the video to watch!

As we kick off 2016, I’m proud to share some of my accomplishments in 2015.

1. Broadening pathways to learning to meet each student's need

FullSizeRender_(3).jpgThe High School Flexibility Task Force wrapped up its work in December, leading to a set of recommendations to allow high schools to create new courses that would enable students to pursue learning at their own pace. This approach, called competency-based education, allows students who need extra time on a particular topic to take that time to truly understand the content, while allowing students who already mastered to concept to move ahead. On Friday, the Office of the State Superintendent will release proposed regulations for public comment that include this new pathway. Tonight (Wed, 1/20) starting at 6:30 pm, the State Board will hear from a panel of experts on competency-based education. The panel should start around 6:30 pm and is open to the public (441 4th St NW, Old Council Chambers). Feel free to send me your own comments or share them here

2. Connecting community members with schools


In early January, Tubman Elementary launched its new mentoring program that pairs small groups of adults with small groups of kids who could benefit from extra attention and care. I’m so excited about the possibility of this program and grateful to the pioneering volunteers from our community who made the commitment to help! We’ll be tracking progress closely through the year. If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up here.

3. Building networks among parent leaders

FullSizeRender_(2).jpgWe’ve begun to lay the foundation for parents across Ward 1 to share lessons and approaches with one another about improving our schools. Last fall, this collaboration led to a meeting with DCPS nutrition experts about school food. I’m looking forward to continuing to explore ways for us to work together in 2016! If you are interested in becoming involved, please sign up here.


Community Opportunities

It’s Open House Season! Please see the News from your Schools section below for details.

The Deputy Mayor for Education has launched the Cross Sector Task Force to open discussion about collaboration between our traditional and charter public schools. The Deputy Mayor is holding focus groups and community discussions to gather input. The Ward 1 meeting will be held February 4th from6-7:30 pmSpace is limited at the sessions, and participants must sign-up to attend. You can access the sign-up form here. For a complete list of meetings, please see this link. For more information about the Task Force and to sign up for the focus group sessions, visit http://dme.dc.gov/collaboration or call the DME at 202-727-2986.  

Join Principal Benjamin Williams for an information session on the Empowering Males High School onJanuary 20th (today!) at 6:30pm at the Marie Reed Recreation Center Multipurpose Room.

Dive in to the new DCPS ‘Request for Proposals’ (opens as PDF) for food vendors, which lists nutritional requirements of meals in DCPS schools on page 40, item C.3.4.1

The My School DC application deadline for grades 9-12 is February 1st! Submit a My School DC application if your child wants to be a new high school student at a participating public charter school, DCPS school outside your boundary or feeder pattern, or DCPS selective citywide high school. Use this tool to research schools, create one family account for all children applying and apply here (selective high schools have additional requirements, found here). For any questions, call 202-888-6336 or emailinfo.myschooldc@dc.gov

State Board News

Health Standards

The State Board is organizing a series of town halls to discuss revisions to proposed health standards, which may be found here. The first of these town halls will be held at the Watha P. Daniel Shaw Library at 1630 7th St NW on January 27 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. This town hall will discuss the standards’ attention to bullying and gun safety.

The second town hall, on February 10 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm at 441 4th Street, NW, 11th Floor, will be co-hosted by the Student Advisory Committees of the SBOE and the Public Charter School Board. This town hall is designed to be a forum for District students, and students of all ages and grades are welcome to attend.  

DCPS budget process gets started

DCPS (DC Public Schools) is trying to launch the budget process earlier than in the past.  This should create more opportunity for school communities and residents citywide to understand and influence the budget. On Jan 27, the DCPS management team is scheduled to approve final proposed school allocations; and on Feb 12, the allocations will be released to schools.  Principals will have until March 7to submit their budgets and any appeals.  This allows for 3 weeks, instead of the days provided last year, for budget discussions. DCPS will submit its final budget to the mayor on March 18.  The mayor will adjust as see she fits and submit it as part of the budget that she submits to the City Council and from there, it goes to the City Council as part of the Mayor's budget, where there will be hearings, negotiation, and eventually the adoption of a final budget. See timeline here.

News from your Schools!*

Bancroft Elementary School

DCPS will decide by the end of January on the status of Bancroft for two years as construction takes place. The first option would keep students onsite, with about half the students in portables that would cover most of the playground. The second would move the entire school to Sharpe Health school, with school buses transporting students the 1.3 miles between Mt. Pleasant and Sharpe. There are positive and negatives to both, but no doubt Bancroft will continue to be a great school for the community!


  • Wednesday, January 20th5:30 pm - Family Fitness Night sponsored by Sports for Sharing
  • Thursday, January 21st, 3-3:25 pm - San Miguel School comes to speak with 5th graders about their middle school
  • Friday, January 22nd - Half day for all DCPS students (Records Day)
  • Thursday, February 11th, 6-7:00 pm - Mr. Katz from DCPS central office to speak with parents and students about the new bilingual middle school opening at McFarland for the 2016-17 school year.
  • January 22nd, 9:30-10:30 am - Open House
  • February 5th, 9:30-10:30 am - Open House
  • February 19th, 9:30-10:30 am - Open House

Bruce Monroe Elementary School

Bruce-Monroe_Ski.jpgBMPVhas started a ski team for their 4th and 5th grade students sponsored by Dean Roderick Rush and Psychologist Susanne Leslie. Through the trips, the students learn sportsmanship and perseverance as they are exposed to a new and unfamiliar environment. They will participate in four day-long trips to Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania. The students will learn to ski, practice and then compete against other elementary schools from the district. Their first trip was January 12th and then two more on February 2nd & 9th. These students had to work hard to raise the funds necessary to make the trip possible, and they have shown perseverance and responsibility. The BMPV community is very proud of them!

  • January 28th, 9-10:00 am or 2-3:00 pm - Early Childhood Open House

Cleveland Elementary School

Cleveland_Lions_DR_trip_group.jpgCleveland ES is planning its first annual trip abroad to Dominican Republic over Spring Break 2016.Help fully fund the trip for students and participating staff at their Go Fund Me page!

  • February 26th, 9-10:30 am - Open House

Columbia Heights Education Campus

"As you know letters make words, words make sentences, sentences make thoughts, and thoughts change the world" -Mr. Ross Cohen
Check out this video of CHEC's school-wide Spelling Bee and Literacy Celebration and the winners in the photo!

  • January 26th, 9:45 am - Middle school Open House
  • January 26th, 5:30 pm - High school and Middle school Open Houses
  • February 9th, 9:45 am - Middle school Open House
  • February 9th, 5:30 pm - High school and Middle school Open Houses

Marie Reed Elementary School

  • January 29th, 10:00 am - Open House
  • January 29th, 6:00 pm - PTA Movie Night (free and open to the public)
  • February 10th, 10:00 am - Open House
  • February 24th, 10:00 am - Open House

Oyster-Adams Bilingual School


Oyster's middle school students did an amazing job at our swim meet at Deanwood pool, with four students placing first in the 200 yard freestylerelay,one student who placing 2nd in the 50 yard backstroke, one student placing 1st in the 50 yard freestyle, and one student placing 1st in the 50 yard butterfly and backstroke. Go tigers!

14 6th grade students were selected for their best work submitted for the Cornerstone Showcase. Oyster's new recycling program has started, and students are really excited about learning about compost and recycling. With the support of a few teachers, the custodial team, and the student body they hope this new program will help them go green!

February 18th, 9:30-10:30 am - Open House

Tubman Elementary School

Tubman_Walmart.pngFifth-grade MPD Junior Cadets will be featured on Wal-mart trucks—make sure to look for your local Tubman Toads, pictured!

  • January 29th, 9:00 am and 5:00 pm - Open House
  • January 30th, 10:00 am - Open House



*I have included school news from those schools who have submitted information to me. I welcome updates!

Laura Wilson Phelan

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