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Broad in their offerings, inexpensive, and accredited, two-year colleges are a great educational resource.


A good match between the student and a school’s educational philosophy can make all the


difference in a student’s high school years.


Can our city can move forward aggressively with education reform without our current Chancellor,



Michelle Rhee?


Learning Dance at St. Mark’s Dance Studio.


Briefs on top schools in the District. HILL RAG • MIDCITY DC • EAST OF THE RIVER FAGON COMMUNITY GUIDES THE EDUCATION EDITION CHAMPS CAPITOL HILL MAP Capital Community News, Inc. 224 7th Street, SE, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20003 202.543.8300 •

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Melissa Ashabranner • EDITORIAL STAFF MANAGING EDITOR: Andrew Lightman • CFO & ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Maria Carolina Lopez • ADVERTISING & SALES SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Deborah Bandzerewicz • 202.543.8300 X13 • ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Kira Means • 202.543.8300 X16 • ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Maria Carolina Lopez • 202.543.8300 X12 • PUBLISHER: JEAN-KEITH FAGON • Copyright © 2010 by Capital Community News. All Rights Reserved.

22 Cover: A student on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia. Courtesy of UDC.







DC Area Community Colleges – and You! Broad in their offerings, inexpensive, and accredited, two-year colleges are a great educational resource by Marjorie Lightman, PhD


wenty-three year old Jennifer Peter is a dance instructor at the Arthur Murray Studio in Silver Spring; she is also a student at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College. Ms. Peter, a Communications major, wants to work at a radio or TV station and knows she will need a bachelor’s degree to reach her career goals. Like a growing number of students around the country, she finds that her local community college provides the right balance of work and learning at an affordable price. For her, “the small classes and accessible faculty” at Montgomery College is the “perfect” first step on the ladder of higher education. Community colleges are uniquely American institutions in that they open higher education to everyone for almost any kind of learning at any time throughout life. Learn a foreign language or prepare for a second – or third – professional career. Read new literature. Overcome math anxiety. If you’re among those who were never good at school but great with building or fixing things – go to the community college for job training or to gain greater technical skills in auto me-


Professor Susan Bontems (far right), who was recognized as the 2009 Maryland Professor of the Year by two national education organizations, enjoys the challenge of making chemistry interesting for students at Montgomery College.

chanics, plumbing or electrical work. If you’ve recently arrived in the US, community colleges have courses in English as Second Language (ESL) and certificate programs that can open doors to the workplace. DC Area Schools DC residents are especially fortunate to have four multi-faceted public community colleges in the area. Three -- NOVA (http://www.nvcc. edu), Montgomery College (http://, Prince George Community College (www.– are located in the closein suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. The new Community of College of Washington, associated with UDC, is right in the District (http://ccdc. All have multiple campuses, many of which are accessible by public transport. They are also accessible on the web where you can just get information and class schedules or you can follow the steps and complete your registration. If you need advice,


you can arrange a visit on campus or a chat online. Classes are held on the campuses, at storefront sites, and on the web. With classes during the day and at night, on-line registration, and interactive web sites, the community colleges take pride in adjusting to people’s complicated responsibilities for work and family life. Programs The colleges all include two-year academic programs in the arts and sciences, workforce development, programs for “new” Americans, distance learning, and continuing education and community outreach. But each of the schools has its own character and culture. If what you want is a strictly academic focus to prepare for transfer to a four year school, for example, Montgomery College, which has even dropped “community college” from its name, may be the best bet. Among the four community colleges, the Montgomery College website especially highlights the academic achievements

of its faculty and portrays the institution with many of the attributes familiar in four year schools. NOVA, in contrast, touts its large size and range of offerings. With an enrollment of some 72,000 students, it is truly a school that has something for everyone. Self-confident as an institution and committed to the community college ideal, a student can’t go wrong at NOVA. Prince George Community College claims the largest number of graduates with two-year degrees, possibly also the highest proportion of enrollments in technical and associate fields for which a two year degree is the workers’ entry card. The Community College of the District of Columbia, connected with UDC, is only one year old and already has some innovative programs. Its focus

on workforce development includes a program in airplane maintenance in a hanger at Reagan National airport, its educational café invites discussions and refers visitors to unique educational opportunities available at museums, embassies and specialized organizations throughout the District. Costs None of the community colleges are expensive when compared with fouryear schools, even fouryear state public schools. For most programs tuition is by the credit hour. There is a sharp differential between in-state and outof-state tuition costs and there are special, generally higher, tuition prices for students sponsored by their employers. Fortunately, at all the schools DC makes a grant available for DC

At Prince Georges Community College classes in nutrition and the culinary arts prepare students for many food-related professions.


With an enrollment of 72,000 students and several campuses, Northern Virginia Community College is truly a school that has something for everyone.

residents that will pay the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, up to a certain amount. Called the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (or DC TAG), students must apply for the grant from the DC government. Full information and the application are available at: seo/cwp/view,A,1226,Q,536770,se oNav_GID,1511,.asp. Without the grant, students pay the regular outof-state tuition amount. At NOVA the cost is $122.95 per credit hour and at Montgomery it’s between $171 and $292. UDC costs $121.67. All the schools have a variety of fees which raises the per semester cost by about another $100. Support Services The community colleges have a special commitment to seek students from diverse backgrounds. Many of these students are the first generation to attend college and many are self–supporting. For them even the modest costs can be forbidding. The schools encourage students with financial issues to seek counseling, since state, federal and private financial aid can sometimes be found. There are also work/study programs on campus and job banks which seek to match students with job opportunities. The schools include a wide range of ages.


One of the many computer labs at University of DC.

In fact, the traditional 18-21 years are in the minority. Most students are “older” and some are “seniors.” Many attend part time. For most, an Associate degree is the “holy grail” that leads to an entry level professional or skilled job. The reality, however, is that the majority of students are strapped for funds or have complicated family and work obligations and a two year degree often stretches over four years or more. “Articulation” and Transfer Each college has a large contingent of students who plan to transfer to four-year schools and complete


a bachelor’s degree. However, the transfer process is not always smooth or easy, despite advertisements to the contrary. The community colleges have “articulation” agreements with the public four-year institutions in their respective states, and in the case of UDC with the university’s four-year program, for the transfer of graduates. The transfer of credits, especially distance learning credits, to institutions not covered by articulation agreements depends on the policy of the individual school. Catholic University, for instance, will not accept any long distance learning credits. It also depends on the overlap in offerings between the community college and the four-year school. Most four-year schools will only give credit for required courses that are similar in content with what they offer, and in addition, they may give elective credits for some courses they deem worthy. It is truly a situation of caveat emptor. The problems encountered by transfer students, however, are far less serious than those encountered by students who attend for profit on-line universities. The community colleges are a part of the regionally accredited nonprofit system of higher education that includes two and four year public and private schools. Regional accreditation assures the basic quality of the school’s programs and the portability of credits, subject to articulation agreements and evaluation by the receiving college. Many of the problems encountered by state community college students are no different from those that are also experienced by four year college students who transfer from one school to another. With a total enrollment in excess of 200,000 students. These four community colleges, are DC’s portal to popular post-secondary education and lifelong learning. If like Jennifer Peter you are a self-supporting, energetic and thinking person, regardless of your age, experiences, or educational background, the community college may be just the place to start or continue your education. ●

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EDUCATION EDITION ● HIGH SCHOOL OPTIONS Friendship Collegiate Academy students on a college tour in Pennsylvania where they visited Bucknell, Villanova, U Penn and Bryn Mawr.

Finding the Right Fit A good match between the student and a school’s educational philosophy can make all the difference in a student’s high school years by Paul D. Shinkman


he final years of a secondary education are some of the most formative. In high school, students learn the skills that transition them into adulthood, whether they start working full-time, take a gap year or go straight to college. On the surface, students in all DC high schools are involved in three major tasks: academic learning, extra-curricular activities and navigating the social transition to adult-


hood. However, while all good high schools address these needs, they all do it differently and making sure the student fits with the school’s educational and philosophical model will make a difference in the person who emerges from the school at the end of the four years. To illustrate this difference, The Hill Rag profiled four local institutions – a public, a private, a private parochial and a charter. These profiles will offer an insight into how these different approaches to a high


school education prepare students to enter the real world.

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School DC Public School 800 Euclid St. NW Operating in the shadow of Howard University, the faculty and staff of Banneker Academic High School, a public school, have one mission above all else: to get their students into college. “We are relentless when it comes to getting our kids into school,” said Principal Anita Berger. Berger’s focus appears to be paying off for the 90% African American student body. Since its founding in 1981, Banneker has boasted a 100% college acceptance rate for each graduating class and consistently produces

Banneker Guidance Department Chair Vernita Jefferson helps a student navigate the college application process.

the students to whom colleges pay particular attention. During an interview in the Banneker front office, Berger points to one student who she said is academically ranked in the bottom of his class. However, he has recently received 14 college acceptance letters and more than $200,000 in scholarships and financial award offers. The 85 graduates this year received a total of $16.7 million in scholarships and awards, Berger said. “They are very marketable for colleges,” she added, accrediting this success rate to the “hands-on” approach of all the faculty and staff, but particularly the college guidance counselors whose dedication and relationships with college reps Berger regards as the “pillars of the program.” “We really believe in the public school system, and wanted the best one,” said parent Dianne Burrell, whose youngest daughter is a rising sophomore. Three of Burrell’s eight children are also alumni. Her eldest son graduated in 1995 and despite an “average” academic record there, was admitted to the US Naval Academy and is currently a major in the Marine Corps. Another son, Olutosin Burrell, graduated in 1998 and returned to teach 10th-grade English. A third graduated in 2000 and is now a software engineer. “[At Banneker] you know you won’t be teased for being bright,” Burrell said of the studious student body. Banneker’s high expectations reach farther than just the classroom. Stu-

dents must also complete 270 hours of community service: 45 hours in freshman and sophomore years, and 90 hours in junior and senior years, which are oriented more towards the student’s job interests, bolstering their real-world experience as they enter college. While it is a publicly funded institution and a part of the DC Public School system, Banneker has the “autonomy” to select students for admission and to plan its entire academic and extra-curricular programs. This offers more flexibility and customization of the classes and available opportunities to fit the students’ needs, Berger said. About 600 students, most of whom are in the top 18% of their middle school class, apply for roughly 150 spaces in each year. Each application must be accompanied by recommendations from the student’s prior English and math teachers, one other teacher, a guidance counselor and their principal, along with a commitment from the student’s parents or guardian to also be involved in the learning process. Berger credits the success of Banneker to both the program and the kinds of students they admit. “If a kid is so smart, but doesn’t have the work ethic, it won’t work here,” she explained. For more information:, 202-671-6320.

power. Its founders chose to name it after the 18th century British politician who coined the maxim, “The only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – a phrase prominently on display in the school’s main hall. Edmund Burke School consciously brings together students who are different from one another in many ways, actively engages them in their own education, has high expectations for them, gives them power and responsibility, and supports and advances their growth as independent thinkers who will make positive contributions to the world in which they live. “Some families feel there is a trade-off between engagement and social justice, and achievement,” Shapiro said, that if parents allow a student to “pursue the arts and be happy, they might not get into the schools they need to.” “It’s quite the opposite, here,” he said. Shapiro believes strongly in teachers empowering students to achieve for themselves and that faculty and staff take them seriously for who they are. And recent graduates have been admitted to colleges and universities such as Brown, Oberlin, Michigan, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and the Rhode Island School of Design. Burke’s progressive approach to teaching pairs rigorous academic

Edmund Burke School Private Independent 4101 Connecticut Ave. NW Head of School David Shapiro employs eight words to describe Edmund Burke: small, urban, diverse, challenging, engaging, enabling, respectful and affectionate. “I think Burke is very cool,” he said. “If you speak to anyone – family, trustees, students – they’ll be talking about the same things that I am.” Forged in the turbulence of the late 1960s, Burke was designed to be a secondary school unlike others at the time by accommodating a changing world where youth were seizing more

Edmund Burke teacher Rachel Braun uses an abacus to engage her math students.


Edmund Burke students participate in a Walk for the Homeless as part of their commitment to community service.

standards with an understanding that not all students learn the same way. It also focuses on student autonomy and leadership, through peer mentoring and tutoring, and the free periods where students may leave the urban campus for class outings or independent community service projects. “We have the courage to give kids power and responsibility. You don’t have to leave any part of yourself outside on the stoop when you come in. Kids are known and appreciated for who they are -- that’s why we can demand so much of them intellectually and ethically,” says Shapiro. Roughly three to four students apply for each space in the 55 to 65-student classes. Burke prides itself also on its many levels of diversity. About 15% of the gross tuition revenue goes toward financial aid, Shapiro said. Twenty-five percent of students receive financial aid, 80% of whom receiving aid for roughly 60% of the $30,000 tuition. “We have one of the top richest financial aid



programs in the region,” he added. Thirty-seven percent of the student body is of color, and 10% are from international families. “They respect the individual person,” said Palisades resident Eliza Button, mother of a Burke graduate and two current students. “There are a lot of different kinds of learners, and a lot of different kinds of kids.” For more information: www.eburke. org, 202-362-8882.

St. Anselm’s Abbey School Independent Parochial 4501 S Dakota Ave. NE Founded in the midst of World War II on the grounds of an abbey established in the early 1920s, St. Anselm’s, a Roman Catholic boys school independent of the arch-diocese, bases its approach to academics on a more than 1,500-year monastic tradition and the 900-year history of its namesake, St. Anselm of Canterbury. The school campus is spread out on 40 acres of woods, sloping gardens and finely manicured playing fields based around an active

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St. Anselm’s Abbey School biology teacher Carol Rentas works with 9th grade students on a lab project in life science class. There are four science laboratories at the school.

Benedictine monastic community. “The Benedictine charism is in everything we do,” said Headmaster Louis Silvano, the first at St. Anselm’s not of the clergy, referencing St. Benedict’s notion of ora et labora (“prayer and work”), and a school motto, “Every day we begin anew.” Yet the faculty and staff do not let the religious foundation of the school narrow the scope of its academics. “The religious program is not cut and dry, or just religious facts,” said James Leathers, the school director of communications and a 2004 graduate, “but a lot of dialogue and philosophy.” The faculty, eight or nine of whom are members of the St. Anselm’s Abbey, stress through their teaching the importance of the “Benedictine style” of developing independent thinkers who are considerate of others. This sense of service permeates all aspects of an education at St. Anselm’s. All students are encouraged to perform community service, and they apply this sentiment to one another; each incoming student is assigned to one of four houses and paired with an upperclassman who provides guidance. Many students later pursue this sense of service in their future studies in law, medicine and business, Silvano added. Two of Leslie Merkle’s sons are currently enrolled at St. Anselm’s, and a third graduated in 2008, entering


the Air Force Academy where he was ranked third in his freshman class. “Parents choose St. Anselm’s because of the faculty and their dedication to the academics,” she said. “The teachers and monks are looking out for all the students’ happiness.” “It’s an academic school, truly committed to the boys’ development in all aspects of their life,” she added. Most admitted students come from the 90th percentile of their prior school, or higher, Silvano said, and many current students will pursue 1015 Advanced Placement courses. “They’re very academically motivated,” he said. “You have to want to study.” Roughly two-thirds of the student body is Roman Catholic, and while most others are Christian, there are also Jewish, Muslim and Zoroastrian students at the school. One-third of students receive financial aid for the $26,022 tuition, totaling $755,000 in aid for the coming academic year. For more information:, 202-269-2350.

Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School Public Charter School 4095 Minnesota Ave. NE Friendship Collegiate Academy prepares its roughly 1,200 students for higher education by softening the division between high school and college. It marries a rigorous cur-


riculum that includes college credit and time spent in college classrooms with programs that build student self-confidence and train them for the practical challenges they will face in later life. “Our goal is for students to have options, not just focus on survival,” said Michael Cordell, the current chief academic officer for the Friendship Charter Schools. Friendship, Cordell added, is modeled after topflight public school systems like that of Montgomery County, Md. “Students also have to learn to advocate for themselves,” Cordell added, explaining the many elements in the curriculum that focus on empowering students, such as mock trial in social studies classes, an emphasis on writing which culminates in a 10page senior thesis and involvement outside the classroom through clubs like chess, debate and an increasingly strong athletics program. A prime example of Friendship’s character-oriented education approach is the popular Leadership program at Friendship. More than 100 students participate in this cadet corps modeled after junior ROTC programs and instructed by Kem Cooper, a former military officer and state trooper. They conduct the school color guard, learn first-responder skills and even help with security in the school. Through partnerships with local universities and private organizations, Friendship Collegiate has also created advanced opportunities for students to feel comfortable moving into their first years of college. According to Arsallah Shairzay, Director of the school’s Early College and AP programs, many students begin taking college-level AP courses in subjects like economics and psychology during their freshman and sophomore years. Professors from the University of Maryland come to the campus to instruct junior year students, and work with them at the Naval Research Laboratory in Bethesda, Md., during the summer.

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Collegiate Academy students with interests in medicine and nursing see how it feels to wear scrubs and face masks

And in their senior years, students have the opportunity to go to the University of the District of Columbia campus to take classes during the school day. Friendship Collegiate foots the bill for tuition, books, transportation and other expenses, Shairzay said. “We’re jumpstarting college careers,” said Shairzay, “Quite a number of students complete [college] in three years.” Access to these programs affords students an opportunity to receive a variety of partial and full scholarships. One hundred and ten juniors were awarded a $10,000 per year DC Achievers Scholarship for five years of college, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Shairzay said. Many students have also received the DC Posse Foundation merit scholarships granting full tuition to participating universities like LaFayette, the University of Wisconsin and Pepperdine.



“I was originally going to put my daughter in a private school, but when I looked at Friendship, I saw they had all she needed,” said Director of Parent Relations Gail Sivels, whose 17-year old rising senior is studying at the University of Maryland this summer as a part of the charter school’s Young Scholars program. Friendship Collegiate is footing the bill. And the relationship between the school and students doesn’t end upon graduation. Friendship Collegiate contacts former students during the Christmas break of their first year in college, to make sure they are coping with admissions issues like financial aid. “We give a wide range of opportunities for students to find their voice, and we equip them with the skills to be successful in college and their careers,” Cordell said. For more info: www., 202-396-5500. ●

Sousa Middle School ENROLL TODAY! Quality School • Safe & Structured Environment Openings available for students entering 6th, 7th & 8th grade next year Fall 2010 Sousa Middle School, an Arts Catalyst School, is exceeding all odds, with 30 point gains in math, and 20 points in reading within the past two academic years. As a Full Service School located in Southeast, Washington, DC, Sousa is dedicated to providing the highest level of education and social-emotional supports to all students by setting the standard of excellence.

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Moving DC Forward with Education Reform by Lisa Raymond


his is an exciting but tense time in our city. We’re facing major leadership decisions, with both Mayor and Council Chair up for grabs, each of which will have a major impact on the direction of DC education reform. But the question on just about everyone’s mind is whether or not our city can move forward aggressively with education reform without our current Chancellor, Michelle Rhee. The short answer is yes – but only if we focus on the right things. To be sure, continuity of leadership is a key ingredient of educational success. But the unfortunate reality is that urban superintendents come and go way too quickly. While Chancellor Rhee has been effective in her threeyear tenure, long lasting reform must be rooted in a way that does not rely solely on one individual or it may not be sustainable over time. Long-term success depends, in large part, on commitment to a unified and sustained education agenda. City leaders–the Mayor, the City Council and the State Board of Education–must collectively back this agenda, no matter the political price. And we must continue to build on our momentum–and not turn back the clock–if we are to see real transformation in our schools.

Progress While not everyone agrees with


Brent Elementary School children participate in a fashion show for the school’s annual International Night.

Chancellor Rhee’s approach, many residents recognize visible improvement in our schools and understand that the kind of reforms we need to transform our system will be somewhat painful. But have we actually made progress? Yes. While DC still lags behind most other school districts in the country, it’s clear that we’re moving our students in the right direction. As illustrated by the most recent NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores, our students have made academic gains over the past three years. DC students showed greater improvement on the NAEP than any other urban district; however, we’re still well below the national average. On the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS) between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of elementary students scoring proficient or higher in reading and math went up 5.6 and 12.7 points respectively; for secondary students 12.4 and 16.6 percent. But results on this year’s DC CAS school year were mixed: Elementary scores overall dropped while middle and high school students made important gains.


Clearly, there are measures of progress beyond test scores, but these results generally indicate upward cumulative momentum, and a firm foundation on which to build.

The Right Education Structure There is no national evidence that mayoral control alone can turn around a struggling school system. But in DC, all signs point to it being the most efficient and effective structure for supporting aggressive reform. We have made progress in the past three years and must build on the foundation that has been laid to date. We must continue to empower a strong Chancellor to implement reform. Whoever leads our city as mayor will also lead our education efforts and should be involved in major decisions impacting our schools. But leadership and support are distinct from management; our city needs a Chancellor with the ability to move forward with aggressive reform without micromanagement or political interference. Many in DC don’t realize that we are a “state” when it comes to education, but the state plays an im-

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portant role in keeping reform efforts equitable across the city and across traditional and charter schools. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and State Board of Education help provide vision and support for school and system improvement, focusing on big picture issues like teacher quality and certification, learning standards and graduation requirements, and helping the community understand how well our schools are performing. We should strengthen the OSSE and ensure it has the budget to fulfill its mission. Getting and Keeping the Right People in Our Schools Teachers are the single-most important factor in determining a child’s success in the classroom. We must attract and retain those who can demonstrate they are moving students forward and give all teachers the opportunity and support to improve. But sooner, rather than later, we need to identify those who cannot meet this bar and move them out of our classrooms. DCPS is moving in the right direction with their teacher evaluation program, IMPACT, and the new teacher’s contract, both of which provide incentives for effective teachers. Many public charter schools have similar strategies. Both groups need our support as they implement and fine-tune these tools over the next few years. We need outstanding principals in every school in our city. We know that strong leadership is a key component of schools with high achievement, and that it is particularly important for high-need schools. Principals with traits such as high expectations for their students, perseverance, the ability to inspire teachers and a focus on continuous improvement and community outreach have the greatest positive impact on student performance. Investing in our Students from Birth to Adulthood Research is clear that high quality early childhood education is critical in determining long-term academic


success. Every child must have access to such programs, beginning at birth, providing the foundation they need to come to school prepared to learn. We must support and grow programs with proven track records, while helping less effective programs improve – or close. Even as important work is underway to improve our elementary schools, parents need assurance that their children will have quality options for middle and high school. We need to continue making middle and high school reform a priority so that all of our students have options that work for them and will prepare them for success after graduation. Our children need quality options for higher education that are closer to home. The most quickly growing jobs require some education after high school; even those that once were available to high school graduates now require a greater degree of skill. The DC Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) enables DC residents to pay in-state tuition at any state university in the country, but we also need to invest in local programs like the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the Community College of DC (CCDC). With our support, UDC and the new CCDC can provide quality two and four year degree and certification programs to prepare our young residents for jobs in DC’s economy. Setting High Standards and Ensuring that All Schools, Students, Meet Them We must prepare all students for success after high school. Expectations for students cannot depend on their zip code, or what their parents do for a living. We must believe that all students can meet high standards and work tirelessly until they are all successful. This includes setting rigorous learning standards – such as the national common core standards that DC and over 27 other states have adopted – that will prepare them for success in college and work, strengthening and increasing access to career and technical programs, and ensuring that every child has the support to achieve. We also must recognize that


27,000 students or nearly 40 percent of our school population are in public charter schools. While not everyone agrees with the concept of public charter schools, the reality is that they are here to stay. Charter schools, like DC public schools, vary in effectiveness: some are doing a great job and others are not. We need to support all of our schools equally, ensure that they are providing the highest quality education to our children, and hold them accountable for results. Community Engagement Not only does meaningful community engagement ensure that reforms take hold, but it actually helps improve the quality of education. Clearly the community cannot be involved in every single decision, and it’s impossible for everyone to agree on every issue. In the face of controversy, leaders must move forward with decisions that are in the best interest of students. But we also must commit to bringing the community in on the front end, involving residents in the difficult conversations surrounding school improvement, and improving transparency so that the community can be a full partner in reform efforts. Real Reform Does Not Happen Overnight Education reform, even in the best of circumstances, is not for the faint of heart. We must make tough decisions and often won’t see immediate results. It is critical to keep our eyes on the end goal – student success – and not be swayed by the “flavor of the day” reform effort or the political winds. Changing a culture of neglect and transforming a low performing school system is hard, slow work. We should not expect overnight success, but demand that each step brings us closer to the vision of excellence that we all want for all of our children. Lisa Raymond is the Ward 6 Member of the DC State Board of Education, a parent of two DCPS students and an education consultant. ●







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Pursuing Excellence One Student at a Time

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”They Don’t Miss a Beat” Learning Dance at St. Mark’s Dance Studio by Virginia Avniel Spatz


f the words “ballet class” conjure up visions of tutus and sugar plum fairies, St. Mark’s Dance Studio, 3rd and A streets, SE, will be a surprise. In fact, for decades, St. Mark’s students danced without costumes. The studio, established in the 1960s, was not a Woodstock-holdover, celebrating “nature” in dance. But founder Mary Craighill (19211999) believed that costumes were of a piece with mediocre Nutcracker repetitions and increasingly sexualized competitive dance. The typical year-end show was a distraction for dancers, she said. Instead, St. Mark’s offered a spring learning “demonstration,” for which dancers wore studio attire: a uniform of powder blue for younger girls, black for older girls, black tights and white t-shirt for boys. “You’re a St. Mark’s Dance alumnus if you know the essentials of recital gear consist of one of the following: Blue leotard, Black LONG sleeve leotard, Pink tights,” reads one Facebook posting. Another references “the excitement of moving from the blue leotard to the black.” In her last years, Mary softened just enough to allow small wardrobe additions, like a wrap-around skirt. Today, dancers might wear a colorful unitard, a flowing skirt or a vest and top hat in the recital. Still, St. Mark’s students dance; they do not put on a show.


A group of young dancers pose before a performance. Photo courtesy of St. Mark’s Dance

“They Don’t Miss a Beat” Dorothy Walker has taught Saturday ballet and other dance styles at St. Mark’s for decades. Rosetta Brooks, an even longer-term veteran of St. Mark’s, now directs the studio. Together, they offer 12 graded youth classes each year to approximately 170 students. (The vibrant adult program is another story.) Ms. Rosie also offers a summer workshop. Though there is no “show,” students learn performance skills in addition to technique and choreography. Disturbances – for example, older students talking or eating in the studio (ordinarily strictly prohibited) – are sometimes arranged during rehearsals to help dancers learn to perform, “no matter what.” And the Junior Company, under Ms. Rosie’s direction, particularly exemplifies this skill. One year, for example, the company was performing for a community celebration on 15th Street, SE, when the sound system blew out mid-dance. A few people closest to


the mobile stage heard a young voice call out, “don’t stop.” But most of the audience simply saw the dancers carry on, singing the lyrics themselves. “Whoa! They don’t miss a beat, do they?” neighbors applauded.

St. Mark’s Dance Director Rosetta Brooks. Photo by Andrew Lightman | 202.399.7993

Afterschool programs at the Atlas

Photo credit: Enoch Chan

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL 2010! • Classes For Children And Teens In All Dance Styles • Ages 13 Months-17 Years Old (12th Grade) • NEW: African Dance Heritage Program

8]ZX`DjiDjg;jaa9VcXZHX]ZYjaZ;dg6Yjaih Discover the dancer in you! Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas 202-399-6763 For more information visit Winner! 2009 Mayor’s Art Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

Auditions for

AMERICAN YOUTH CHORUS 2010-2011 Concert Season

After-school music program for ages 8-14 from DC, MD & VA An outreach program of the Congressional Chorus Auditions & weekly rehearsals at The Atlas Performing Arts Center 1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC * Performances at Kennedy Center, US Capitol, Inaugural Ball, Smithsonian Folklife Festival and for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton To schedule an audition, email Debby_McConnell@CongressionalChorus.Org or call 202-399-7993, x 182 For more information, visit our website at:


in demi. Don’t watch her – learn your own body. Tighten that tuchus. If you don’t want to jiggle on the beach -young ladies, you know what I’m talking about – tighten up...Where’s your center? Abdominals?...Relevé – UP!... Don’t let go. Audiences remember that finish. If you plop down, that’s what they’ll take home. Softly, through your feet...Plié.” Older students “engage pectoral muscles,” Seth Malcom, who has been a St. Mark’s student for three years, and Ella while younger ones Hillsenrath perform a pas de deux. Photo courtesy of St. Mark’s Dance place arms “on a shelf,” but everyone is expected to develop a body awareness that sounds exhausting: All this, just to execute what looks like a knee bend? Doesn’t this dampen the fun of dance? “This is the most enjoyable dance experience I’ve had,” says Seth Malcom, a 16-year-old dancer who has been at St. Mark’s for three years, even pursuing his own choreography. “I tried other places, but Ms. Rosie knows what to do with pretty much anyone. She’s serious and tough, but she teaches dance for the enjoyment of dance.” He says St. Mark’s is the first studio – in a series due to military family moves -- “where they know that boys are built different.” Adult classes are offered in ballet, jazz, dance exercice and Moira Reilly, 13, a gymnast, never pilates. Photo by Andrew Lightman studied dance before this summer. She is learning new things about her body from Ms. Rosie, she says. Serious Enjoyment “Ms. Rosie has been teaching “Ms. Rosie’s serious,” families new to St. Mark’s have been whis- since she was, like, 14,” Seth explains. pering to one another for decades. “She can just look at a person and see Students are expected to be on time, what they need as a dancer.” with appropriate dress and attitude. As one alumna recalls, “Pointe was A Different Atmosphere “I don’t want the organist practic4:45 sharp – and not a MINUTE later. Rosie didn’t play!” And once ing downstairs to think a thunderstorm the music starts, so does the instruc- is starting,” Ms. Rosie directs a jumping tional patter, in French, English and exercise. Dancers, age 8 through teens, a smattering of “technical” Yiddish. take turns launching themselves, one “Plié. Heels do not leave the floor arm raised to the studio’s vaulted ceil-



ing. A few of the taller students nearly touch the support of the church loft; most have a long way to reach. Some tentative springs or thudded landings require another try. But all 15 students finally stretch through the effort, from fingertip to strongly pointed toes. Half an hour later class has moved on to tour-jeté, a traveling, turning jump. Students are reminded of the earlier exercise and told to strive for “those same legs.” Ms. Rosie wants more precision from one advanced dancer. “Sharpen it up. The back row can’t see those beats.” The student tries again. Ms. Rosie focuses intently, calling encouragement and direction as the jumps lengthen, the beats strengthen. “Good! Back row saw that.” Out of floor space, the dancer lands one last, improved tour-jeté, smiling in relief. But it’s Ms. Rosie who lets out the triumphant holler: “Yes! Upper tier!” The class quietly applauds extra effort or fine achievements. And, while chatting is forbidden, soft “teaching mode” conversations and demonstrations are encouraged. “Once you walk in the door, it’s a different atmosphere,” explains pointe student Ella Hillsenrath. “It’s not just what happens in the studio.” As students – and their challenges -- grow, Ms. Rosie observes and maintains a line of communication – often out-lasting dance class. “Before every class, Ms. Rosie asks whether you’re keeping up with your school work,” says Celia Thompson, a pointe student who was inspired to consider professional dance by the teachers at St. Mark’s. “Ms. Rosie helped me with nutrition and healthier choices....You can tell her anything. She’ll know what to do.” “It’s more than dance,” Ella concludes. “It’s a community.” Registration for the full school-year program begins September 10-11. Please call for details. For more information: html or call 202-543-0054. The studio is located at 301 A Street, SE. ●


for children in Pre-K through 12th grade. Our mission is to enable a diverse group of children to meet high expectations; develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills; achieve deep understanding of complex subjects; and acquire a love of learning and a strong sense of community and character. (p.9)

College Bound

ACT College ACT College has three convenient locations in Northern Virginia, specializing in Allied Health training. Our graduates are highly sought after by local employers seeking qualified individuals to fill entry level employment needs for Medical and Dental Assistants, Medical Office, and Pharmacy Technicians. (p.7)

American Youth Chorus Founded on the belief that all children deserve a highquality music education, the American Youth Chorus offers students a performance-based choral/music theatre program that encourages young people to develop their voices, creativity and self-esteem in a healthy, age-appropriate manner through active participation in rehearsals and performances. (p.23)

College Bound’s mission is to prepare D.C public and charter school students to enter college, earn a degree, and achieve their personal and professional goals. College Bound practices a one-to-one mentoring model. Students and partners are committed to meeting once a week at a community-based site to make college a reality. (p.9)

Community Academy Public Charter School (CAPCS) Community Academy Public Charter School (CAPCS) Online of Washington, D.C. and K12 give DC kids in grades K-8 the chance to learn in the ways that are right for them, tuition free. Every subject is delivered online, with hands-on activities, plus books and support from expert teachers. (p.27)

Community College of DC (See UDC Community College)

Atlas Performing Arts Center

DC Association of Chartered Public Schools

The Atlas is a multi-space venue which is home to a variety of arts organizations including Joy of Motion Dance Center, American Youth Chorus and the Capitol City Symphony. The Atlas presents the annual Intersections: A New America Arts Festival which highlights where the arts merge and cultures meet. (p.23)

The mission of the DCPCSA is to increase opportunities and outcomes for students by supporting the development, growth, and sustainability of quality charter schools in Washington, DC. The Association was created by and for DC public charter schools to serve as their collective voice. (p. 3)

Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys

DC Preparatory Academy PCS

The Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys is a tuitionfree private school for boys from low-income families. Currently serving boys in grades PK through 1, BWS features passionate teachers and administrators, small class sizes, a comprehensive family support network, extended school day, regular field trips and nutritious meals. (p.15)

DC Prep is changing public education in Washington. With a program of rigorous academics and character education we prepare PreSchool through 8th grade students for success in college prep high schools, college, and life. (p.17)

Bridges Public Charter School Bridges is a small, public preschool and pre-kindergarten program for children 3-5 years old, that provides an exemplary, individualized early childhood educational program for preschoolers, with and without special needs. Their developmentally appropriate, family and child-centered educational program nurtures students, expands their skills, and builds a foundation for life-long learning. (p.9)

Burgundy Farms Country Day School Each diverse child is respected as an individual. Each child’s innate curiosity is nurtured into a love of learning. Academic excellence grows through work, exploration and play. Children become confident students and collaborative citizens. Explore. Learn. Grow. (p.12)

- 2nd grade and will expand to the 3rd grade in 2011. The school approaches each child through a holistic framework. We educate the child’s socio-emotional development with equal vigor as the academic portion. Eagle Academy PCS is fully accredited. (p.27)

Edmund Burke School Burke is a small, urban, diverse, challenging, coed day school for 300 students in grades 6 through 12. Located two blocks south of the Van Ness metro station, Burke offers a challenging and engaging academic program, exceptional arts programs, and integrates service learning into classrooms at all grade levels. (p.17)

Friendship Collegiate Academy Collegiate Academy is a college preparatory high school serving students in grades 9-12. FCA’s comprehensive curriculum prepares students for college and the world of work. Students benefit from broad offerings of Advanced Placement/Honors courses, career courses providing pathways in technology, science, engineering, law, allied health, communications and the arts. (p. 28)

Friends Community School Friends Community School is a K-8 Quaker School that nurtures young people to be life-long learners, courageous risk-takers, and joyous peacemakers. We welcome students of all backgrounds, and offer developmentally appropriate, experiential, and vigorous curricula. Our students love to learn, know how to learn, and succeed in leading high schools. (p. 21)

Hill Preschool Now in its thirty-eighth year on Capitol Hill, The Hill Preschool’s philosophy is that children learn through play and socialization. Focusing on the whole child, characteristics of the Creative Curriculum and themebased instruction are used as resources for instruction that allow the children many opportunities for growth and development. (p. 19)

Imagine Hope PCS

DC Youth Orchestra Program Let’s Play! DC Youth Orchestra Program offers comprehensive music education serving young people in the DC metro area. Instruction is available for all orchestra and wind ensemble (band) instruments; beginning, intermediate, and advanced students, ranging in age from 4 1/2 to 19. We provide affordable, accessible, high-quality music instruction & performance opportunities. (p.23)

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) DCPS is implementing new rigorous academic programs, expanding early childhood education, and preparing students for college. We are initiating new catalyst programs focused on Arts, World Cultures, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math this school year, 2010-2011. (p. 21)

We provide students with an integrated education that emphasizes arts, music, and literature, as well as the traditional core subjects. Our mission is to shape our students by providing them with a rigorous, content rich curriculum, an environment in which character is modeled and promoted, and a community in which to build trusting relationships with others. (p. 21)

Imagine Southeast PCS Imagine Southeast PCS is a premier charter school located in the heart of Southeast Washington, DC. We take pride in the fact that we are a single-gender dual academy charter school. Our efforts have proven that girls and boys in grades 1st-5th will excel academically, socially, and emotional given an environment that is conducive to their gender needs. (p.7)

Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas

Capital City Public Charter School

Eagle Academy Charter School (PCS)

Capital City is a small, award-winning public school

Eagle Academy PCS educates children ages 3 years old

Joy of Motion Dance Center (JOMDC) is a nonprofit dance education organization offering classes to adults and children 7 days a week throughout the DC region. Recognized in 2009 with the Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education, JOMDC


lives its motto “Dance Is for Everyone.” (p.23)

Kipp DC KIPP DC is a network of high-performing, tuition-free public charter schools, whose students are among the hardest working young people in the city. With a rigorous academic curriculum, extensive enrichment opportunities, and a “whatever it takes” attitude, KIPP DC raises expectations and prepares students for excellence in college and beyond. (p. 2)

Ludlow-Taylor Arts Integration School Proud to be a DCPS Arts Integration Catalyst school. We embrace the arts to enliven teaching and learning. Come experience Reggio Emilia in our early childhood program and “greening” through our courtyard outdoor classroom. Through the power of the arts, students are actively engaged in their educational journey. (p.19)

Monkeys’ Uncle Monkeys’ Uncle is your gently used clothing and equipment headquarters. We carry newborn to teenager, as well as Maternity clothing. You’ll find bargains on school uniform separates, play clothes and Sunday best! We also carry earth friendly baby products and rent Baby Equipment. (p. 21)

Montgomery College Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Maryland. The College serves nearly 60,000 students annually, through credit and noncredit programs, in more than 130 areas of study. (p. 2)

National Collegiate Preparatory PCHS Be a part of a wonderful academic community! National Prep is a college prep high school located in Washington, DC. We offer small class sizes, an international study focus with a rigorous curriculum to prepare students for college. Space is available for 9th grade. Contact us about our exciting program. (p.16)

Northeast Stars Montessori Northeast Stars provides an optimum Montessori education enhanced by Spanish, music, science, sign language, and yoga for children 30 months to 5 years old. International summer camp is offered to students through age 8 to explore culture, wildlife, and geography of the world around us through cooking, arts, music, and science. (p.19)

Paul Public Charter School Paul offers an extensive liberal arts and character development curriculum designed to meet the needs of every student through the Triple “A” Program, combining Academics, Arts and Athletics. Our students have a firm foundation to enter college preparatory high schools. We are accepting applications for grades 6 and 7. (p.13)

Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School will serve


students in grades Pre-K through 5 for the 2010-11 school year. The focus on college preparation starts in Kindergarten. The arts-infused program and small school environment along with looping, longer school year and days, after school care, and free transportation make PLPCS unique. (p.9)

Saint Anthony Catholic School Conveniently located two blocks from the Brookland/ Catholic University/ metro station. Serves students in Pre-Kindergarten through the eighth grade. The school’s mission is to prepare servant leaders whose lives are modeled on Jesus Christ. We offer an affordable and academically rigorous program where you child can succeed. (p.15)

Saint Anselm’s Abbey School Located on a 40-acre campus in Northeast Washington, St. Anselm’s Abbey School offers a rigorous classical Benedictine education to gifted young men in grades six through twelve. The 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio means that each student gets the guidance and personal attention he needs to succeed. Now accepting applications; tuition assistance available. (p.13)

sively for themselves and their communities. (p. 21)

Two Rivers Public Charter School A small parent-supported school with an interactive learning approach. Project-based, hands-on learning, arts-based instruction, integrated Spanish instruction. Preschool - 8th grade. Free and open DC residents. The school focuses on the whole child, recognizing the importance of character education and the social-emotional needs of children while helping them achieve academic excellence. (p. 21)

UDC Community College The Community College of the District of Columbia’s Continuing Education program offers more than 1,000 online classes for personal and professional development, with plans for instructor-led classes this fall. The program also offers EdCafe, a virtual “third place” where visitors can link to local cultural and educational activities. (p. 5)

UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences

SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C. A public college-preparatory boarding school whose primary mission is to provide an outstanding, intensive educational program that prepares children, both academically and socially, for success in college. 97% of all SEED graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. (p.19)

Septima Clark Public Charter School Washington, DC’s first public charter school for boys. The school serves preschool to 4th grade boys living in Wards 7 and 8 as well as across the city. We have a engaging, college preparatory mission in a school designed with boys’ learning needs in mind. (p.15)

Sousa Middle School Sousa Middle School, an Arts Catalyst School, is exceeding all odds, with 30 point gains in math, and 20 points in reading within the past two academic years. As a Full Service School located in Southeast DC, Sousa is dedicated to providing the highest level of education and social-emotional supports to all students by setting the standard of excellence. (p.17)

Thea Bowman Preparatory Academy PCS Our mission is to educate middle school age students with a rigorous, standards-based curriculum that fosters a culture of self-discipline, service, and intellectual development. We prepare our students to enter and complete challenging high school programs. The trademark of our school is that we are intentionally small. You can be assured that all of our faculty and staff will know your child by name. (p.13)

Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School Thurgood Marshall Academy is a law-themed school that helps students develop their own voice by teaching them the skills lawyers have: the ability to solve complex problems, think critically, and advocate persua-


CAUSES, the nation’s only urban land-grant institution, provides innovative programs that prepare students to address 21st Century issues involving agriculture, nutrition and food safety, urban sustainability, urban architecture, environmental matters and water resource quality and management. (p. 5)

UDC School of Law The UDC David A. Clarke School of Law offers a quality legal education, affordable tuition and scholarship opportunities. The students and faculty are diverse and committed. Students are required to complete 750 hours of hands-on legal work on behalf of low-income clients. The Law School offers the best of both worlds -- theoretical law and practical legal training. (p. 5)

The Washington Ballet (TWB) A pre-eminent ballet organization in the US. TWB embraces a three-part mission. Ensuring excellence in its professional performance company and growing the next generation of dancers through The Washington School of Ballet. We are serving the community through programs including Dance DC and TWB@THEARC. (p.23)

Washington Math Science and Technology Public Charter High School WMST is an open enrollment charter high school that provides a rigorous standards- based academic program that integrates mathematics, science and technology throughout the curriculum. WMST specializes in preparing students for higher education, leading to rewarding careers. The program prepares students to meet high academic standards by giving them exceptional learning experiences. (p.9)

Washington Yu Ying PCS Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School combines Chinese language immersion with the inquiry-based curricula of the International Baccalaureate Organization. We serve Pre-K to 3rd grade. We will continue to serve up to 8th grade by 2015. There is a structured before and after care program available. (p.12)


A Special insert magazine focusing on the educational opportunities in the Washington, DC area.