October Principal’s Message
Outside it finally feels like fall; our scholars have been building, digging, planting, reenacting, volunteering, singing, and so much more; and we’re closing in on the end of the first quarter of the school year!
We are proud that on October 10th, IDEA hosted our first ever schoolwide PSAT/SAT day, during which nearly all of our scholars completed this important college admission test, through a partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the College Board. The test was given to scholars for free, and scholars were able to request that their results be sent directly to colleges and universities they may be interested in attending. By giving scholars the opportunity to take these tests during the school day at no cost to families, IDEA is eliminating a possible barrier to college, to clear the path for our scholars to succeed.
Nearly every day we receive good news in the mail as college acceptances for our seniors come rolling in. As of mid-October, nearly half of our seniors have been admitted to at least one college or university. While we recognize that not every scholar will pursue the same post-secondary path, it is our responsibility to ensure that our graduates have options.
To help our scholars envision their futures, our Workforce Friday program is going strong, with several local organizations meeting with scholars each month. This Friday we welcome the Metropolitan Police Department introducing its MPD Cadet Program, DC Fire & EMS introducing its FEMS Cadet Program, Bank of America providing financial literacy tips, the DC Department of Employment Services’ Office of Youth Programs, and SchoolTalk to introduce its Youth Leadership Network and Music Production & Career program.
This month the DC Public Charter School Board will send a team of reviewers to our campus to conduct a Qualitative Site Review. This process supports our application to renew our charter, required every five years, since we are now in our 20th year of operations. Visitors will be making classroom observations and will report back to our administrative team and the DCPCSB to provide insights into what’s working well at IDEA and areas where we can improve.
Finally, next time you stop by the school, please take the time to visit our new garden, which scholars, staff, and community partners worked hard down in the dirt to build and plant. The garden is part of our RiverSmart Schools grant from the DC Department of Energy and the Environment, and will improve the health of the Anacostia River by reducing storm runoff, provide a new destination for pollinators which benefits our food supply, and serve as a living classroom for our scholars. Creating the garden was truly a collaborative effort, and we especially thank Trinh Doan of DCDEE, Lauren Wheeler of Natural Resources Design, Lauren Meyer of Casey Trees, and our own ACAD instructor Ian Milne for their leadership.
Parents are an essential part of our support system for scholars, and we welcome and encourage parent involvement at IDEA! Please plan to attend our next Parent Boosters meeting on Thursday, November 8 at 5:30pm in room 100. We have a wide variety of areas where we would love help from parents and appreciate any assistance you can offer.
My door is always open and I love to hear from our families and community supporters.
September Principal’s Message
Welcome back to IDEA! Our 2018-2019 school year has gotten off to a fantastic start, with 319 scholars enrolled, supported by 67 faculty and staff members. Our focus this year is Engaging Scholars through Academic Rigor. Every teacher and staff member will be working to challenge our scholars, demonstrate high expectations, and do whatever it takes to motivate and inspire scholars to do their best.
We’ve expanded our teaching staff in English and math to ensure small class sizes. Our teacher-scholar ratio for 9th and 10th grades is 1 to 18. Many scholars arrive at IDEA with significant gaps in their education, and it’s up to IDEA to not only fill those gaps but extend their learning to new heights to prepare them for college and careers. Across the District of Columbia, scholars are most at risk of failing or dropping out of school in 9th grade, and one of our primary goals is to provide every scholar in our freshman class with the support they need to succeed and stay on track for graduation in 2022.
Scholars are learning that excellent attendance is essential to academic progress. Our goal this year is that scholars are absent no more than two days per quarter to ensure that they miss as little instructional time as possible. The more they’re in school, the more they will learn and the greater chances they will have of future success.
IDEA has also expanded our clinical team to meet the needs of the whole scholar and support their families. Our team now includes Director of Student Support Services Melody Washington, School Counselors Yvette Brown and Tiffany Casey, and School Psychologist Jennifer Smith.
This year four grade-level deans will serve as the direct line for scholar support, to engage with scholars, support families, help with grade-level events, and communicate academic progress. We encourage scholars and families to cultivate relationships with their deans: Germaine Jenkins—9th grade, Morrell Miles—10th grade, Ulises Bengoechoa—11th grade, and Lori Briscoe—12th grade.
Our early childhood education program has expanded to a graded course taught by professional educators from OSSE. Scholars will have the opportunity to earn valuable career certification and gain hands-on experience working with young children in child care settings in addition to their classroom learning. In collaboration with Dexterity Driving School, we will be offering driver’s education as a graded course where scholars can work toward earning their learner’s permit or driver’s license.
More opportunities for our scholars will be created and unveiled throughout the school year, and we are looking forward to sharing them with you. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm as we begin this year of learning together.
If you have any questions or concerns about your scholar’s educational experience or any of our programs at IDEA, please contact me or any member of our team.