Welcome back IDEA family! We are all so excited to be back in the building together after a tumultuous 18 months. We understand that it’s a major adjustment to go from living and studying in a mostly virtual environment and spending a lot of time on your own to being back in school everyday and navigating social situations and new relationships. We know many families are still feeling the traumatic financial, medical, and social after-effects of the pandemic. We are here to help.
Please know that IDEA has implemented a whole spectrum of support services for scholars and families to help them safely and successfully adapt to the new normal. Our professional mental health clinicians provide counseling, mediation, crisis care; help for parenting youth, youth who are homeless, students with IEPs and 504s; and other services. This team includes
- Director of Special Education Sybil Pernell
- Director of Clinical Services Melody Washington
- Social Worker Yvette Brown
- Social worker Tiffany Casey
- School psychologist Jennifer Smith
- Consulting Therapist Chris Cartledge, SMILE Therapeutic Services
- Howard University School of Social Work MSW Intern Hanifah Griffith
Integral to and equally important to our team are our families. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and siblings are often in the best position to observe possible problems with scholars or conflicts in the community that have the potential to spill over into school and disrupt the positive culture and learning environment we are building at IDEA. We encourage scholars and families to reach out to Director of Intervention and Scholar Programming Charlene Evans-Smith, Dean of Students Ulises Bengoechea, or Dean of Culture Lori Briscoe by email or at 202.399.4570 anytime you see or hear something of concern.
Other strategies we are employing to ensure scholar safety include
- Changing our dismissal procedures so scholars exist safely from three different doors. We direct scholars to go home and we discourage loitering around the school entrance.
- Adding school resource officers to assist with safe passage.
- Providing two safe passage shuttles that make several stops throughout the community to safely transport scholars to and from schools. We ask parents to encourage scholars to take the buses.
- Posting administrators in hallways to offer a listening ear to scholars who need assistance and ensure scholars are following health and safety protocols.
- Offering intensive training to 11th and 12th grade peer leaders in our Peer Group Connection program so they will be able to serve as mentors and provide resources for their peers.
All of this connects back to the first component of our theme for the school year: empathetic engagement with scholars and staff. Working together with all members of our IDEA family and community, we can empathetically engage and effectively provide caring support for our scholars.
- Progress reports are being sent to scholars and families this week
- Our next virtual town hall meeting will be Thursday, September 23 from 6pm-6:45pm. A Zoom link will be sent to families beforehand.
- Parent-teacher conferences will be held virtually on Thursday, October 7. There is no school for scholars on October 7 or 8.
- All IDEA scholars will take the PSAT and SAT in school on Wednesday, October 13.
As always, we appreciate our scholars, families, and the whole IDEA community and we look forward to working together to continue to cultivate a positive culture where we challenge, motivate, and strengthen all of our scholars.