CHPSPO Meeting Notes – March 20, 2012

Dear Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization members,


Middle Schools

At our CHPSPO meeting on Tuesday, we had very informative presentations from Principals Tynika Young, Dawn Clemens and Natalie Gordon. After our discussion, we decided to form two “thinking groups” to further explore how we can support our neighborhood middle schools. The two thinking groups are:

1. Outreach – the scope of this thinking group is to look at things like:

a. spreading the word about the good things going on at our neighborhood middle schools;

b. bringing together parents from the different elementary feeder schools, e.g., living room chats, etc.;

c. helping people understand what the IB teaching approach is and the progress Jefferson, Eliot-Hine and Eastern are making in becoming IB certified;

d. creating opportunities for families to visit the neighborhood middle schools, e.g., art festivals, Spring baseball games, etc.

Outreach thinking group members are: Joe Weedon (chair), Andrea Ryan, Isabella Harris, and Barbara Riehle

2. Out-of-school time/Partnerships – the scope of this thinking group is to look at things like:

a. what existing out-of-school time activities do the middle schools currently have such as clubs and sports;

b. what partnerships currently exist at the schools to support out-of-time activities;

c. what are the desires of the principals, teachers and students for after-school activities;

d. identify opportunities for establishing partnerships to support out-of-school activities.

Out-of-school time/Partnerships thinking group members are: Suzanne Wells (chair), Sandra Moscoso-Mills, Principal Dawn Clemens, and Julie Scofield

The thinking groups will report at the April CHPSPO meeting on their progress. If others would like to join the thinking groups, please contact the chairs of the thinking groups (Joe Weedon, for the Outreach thinking group and Suzanne Wells, for the Out-of-school time/Partnerships thinking group).


DCPS Libraries

At our meeting, we also agreed CHPSPO would submit testimony at the March 28 DCPS budget hearing and/or write a letter to Chancellor Henderson regarding the FY13 budget changes that move librarians into a flexible funding category, and that eliminate librarians from schools with enrollments less than 299. A draft of the testimony/letter will be circulated in the next couple of days.


Smithsonian Education Lab

Finally, we had a very informative presentation by Jeff Meade with the Smithsonian Education Lab. There are great opportunities for free teacher training through the Smithsonian Education Lab. If your school is interested in exploring partnering opportunities with the Smithsonian Education Lab, contact Jeff at

Suzanne Wells

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – February 21, 2012

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

J.O. Wilson Elementary School

660 K Street, NE –Library, 2nd floor

February 21, 2012  6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

1) Safe Routes to School, Jennifer Heffernan, District DOT

**Congratulations to Brent ES, as Feb 21 was the debut of the Brent Safety Patrols!

First Annual National Bike to School Day is on May 9, Wednesday.

 – Supported by DDoT (giveaways will be available to participating schools)

 – Soon, schools can register to participate via – (the site is currently being redesigned to provide more biking related material)

– Brainstormed around idea of having a pitstop at Lincoln Park, rather than a W2SD type of party. Plan to record the participants and recognize the schools who participate (maybe shout outs to the schools with most participants). Have multiple pit stops, as long as there are volunteers to ‘man’ them.

ACTION: Sandra M. to reach out to CHPSPO schools to see who is willing to volunteer to organize pit stops and where.

ABCs of Family Bicycling on Sat, April 21st, 11AM-2PM @ Logan parking lot (215 G St., NE) (rain date is following day).

 – Kiddical Mass

 – Families w/ experience biking will give demos, showing gear

 – Bike shops will show gear

 – Bicycle skills rodeo

 – Safety

 – Bicycle train training (teach skills re: riding in group safely), followed by group ride

 – ACTION: Jennifer H. to add to program – how to secure your bikes

ACTION: CHPSPO will get event into Hill Rag

Bike Racks and Safe Routes to Eliot Hine

 – Q: do all schools on Hill have full complement of bike racks? – ACTION: Jennifer to look into those bike racks installed in last year or so.

 – Q: Could DDOT look into Safe Routes to Eliot-Hine? ACTION: Jennifer to look into this – Suzanne to connect Jennifer w/ Eliot-Hine


 2)  Community Parade, Apollo:

 – Parade likely 11AM-12PM, in April or May

 – To include schools, clubs, teams, music

 – ACTION: CHPSPO to reach out to Capitol Hill Classic and Laps for Lincoln organizers; Apollo to flesh out theme/focus of parade

 3) Mindful Parenting Workshops, Steven Seiden

 – Therapist-led sharing environment w/in parents to feel like we can problem-solve issues and have support and connect

– Eventually, peer-led

– Goal is to make this a DCPS parent-engagement program

– Opening up this opportunity to all Ward 6 schools. On March 9 and March 23 9:30-11 AM (or 1:30-3:00PM); ideally, at each school

 – ACTION: Steve to write up invite to circulate to schools

4) IFF Study Discussion:

ACTION: ALL -read and encourage individuals to write letters to encourage Chancellor and Deputy Mayor not to look at this study, but rather at the work that is going on in schools and communities.

ACTION: Suzanne to circulate DeShawn Wright’s response to IFF.

5) Discussion of 2012 CHPSPO Priorities, All

Middle Schools

– Bring Principals (+ LSAT; PTAs) of middle schools together to identify where they think the community can help

– Reference to Heather’s pitch in example: need to know what volunteer needs are at the school

    • Bring PTA leadership together from MS to figure out how to get them more active; bring PTA feeders together w/ MS PTAs
    •  Have a list of ways we think we can help that principals can consider

– Living room chats w/ feeder families

    • Also set expectations

– Leading Tours for Parents

– Have schools hold PTA meetings at EH

– Request from DCPS accountability around MS plan

– Elementary school events at EH (ex: art show of feeder elementary schools at EH)

– Re-engage the collaboration teams

ACTION: Suzanne to reach out to Principals and PTA presidents to meet w/ CHPSPO/feeders

– Elliot-Hine collaboration team meets first Wednesday of the Month at 5:30 PM @ Parent Resource Center at Eliot Hine

– Eliot Hine PTA = 3rd Thursday of the Month


Next CHPSPO Meeting: March 20, 2012

Upcoming Events:

March 10, Alchemy of Great Taste, Tyler Fundraiser

March 17, School Within School Jazz Gala and Auction

March 24, Maury at the Market, Maury Fundraiser

March 24, A Taste of the Hill, Brent Fundraiser

April 27, A Montessori Night’s Dream, Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan Fundraiser

Visit CHPSPO on the web at

CHPSPO Testinomony: Middle Grades Education in the District – Public Roundtable

Testimony of Heather Schoell

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO)

Middle Grades Education in the District:  Preparing Our Students for Success in High School and Beyond

Public Oversight Roundtable

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

          Good morning.  My name is Heather Schoell, and today I am representing the Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization or CHPSPO, formed in 2005, and made up of PTA members, principals and interested community members from the elementary and middle schools on Capitol Hill.  CHPSPO’s mission is to promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools on Capitol Hill in order to improve the education received by all children attending our schools.


We are very pleased Chairman Kwame Brown is taking a leadership role on the issue of middle schools.  CHPSPO began a Middle School Initiative two years ago because we have seen great successes in our neighborhood DCPS elementary schools, and want families to have confidence in the public middle schools on Capitol Hill.  Students from Ward 6 as well as other Wards including Wards 5, 7 and 8 attend the public schools on Capitol Hill.  We have a great diversity of offerings in our elementary schools, including Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Special Education, Spanish Immersion, Arts Integration, World Cultures, Museum Studies and more.  We want to see a continuation of the teaching methods at the middle school level that are being successfully implemented in our neighborhood elementary schools.  We began our Middle School Initiative because we wanted to see a comprehensive plan for our neighborhood middle schools that would lift up the educational experience for all middle school students.  We believe strong middle schools in Ward 6 are one of the keys to attracting students to Eastern High School.


We conducted a survey in the summer of 2009 to capture attitudes of parents surrounding middle schools, and found that parents are looking for strong academic programs, safe environments, and teachers with a reputation for excellence.  Taking this information, parents and principals worked collaboratively throughout the winter of 2010 to develop a proposed middle school plan that we presented to DCPS in March of 2010.  Elements of our proposed plan included:


  • vertically integrating the Special Education programs at our elementary schools into our neighborhood middle schools;
  • beginning an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program for all students at Eliot-Hine which we believed would vertically integrate well with the diverse offerings from our neighborhood elementary schools; and
  • expanding Montessori education through 8th grade.


Over the summer of 2010, DCPS held a number of public meetings to get broad input on ways to strengthen our middle schools, and expanded our plan to cover all of Ward 6.  DCPS began the process of certifying both Eliot-Hine and Jefferson Middle Schools to become International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Schools, and to strengthen the Museum Studies program at Stuart Hobson Middle School.  DCPS also decided to move the Capitol Hill Cluster School’s Watkins Campus Montessori program to the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan School which opened three weeks ago in order to expand the opportunities for Montessori across the city.  DCPS has shown its commitment to these middle school improvements by establishing Collaboration Teams at each of the middle schools that bring together principals, parents and teachers from the feeder schools with their respective middle schools.


We have learned much through our involvement with the middle schools.  First, and foremost, we have learned it is important to be purposeful in developing a middle school plan that reflects the desires and interests of neighborhood families.  It is not easy to develop such plans.  It takes long hours of conversations and exchanges of ideas, but in the end we have found it is time well spent.  Without such plans, we and DCPS have nothing to guide ourselves along the path of improvement. Parents ultimately decide where their children go to middle schools, and their hopes and dreams for their child’s education must be taken into account in any efforts to revitalize the middle schools or middle school improvement plans will likely miss the mark in creating middle schools that will draw families to them.


We have learned it is important to offer a diversity of options for families to choose from at the middle school level.  Children do not all learn in the same ways, and families have different goals for their children’s education.  Some children need special education services.  Some children thrive under the Montessori model or a project-based learning model.  Others want to continue the foreign language they’ve been immersed in at the elementary school level.  While some will thrive in small learning environments, many sixth graders are looking for independence and thrive in larger settings that offer a diversity of clubs, after-school activities, sports and drama along with giving them their first glimpse of what high school has to hold for them.


We also know that many students are not performing at grade level when they reach middle school.  We have learned that two things can help in ensuring students reach middle school performing at a proficient level.  First, we have found it is important to establish a dialogue between teachers at the elementary feeder schools with the teachers at the middle schools.  Rarely does this happen, but when it does, teachers can develop a deeper understanding of what 5th graders should master before they leave their elementary school and devise strategies for helping the students learn the materials they need to master.  Second, it is important to develop strategies to help those students who do not arrive at middle school performing at a proficient level.  Strategies such as summer programs focusing on the math and reading skills necessary for 6th grade or establishing academies within the middle school to help raise students’ performance to the proficient level have proven to be successful.


We also know that school facility modernization continues to be a concern, and that it is important for our city to continue to proceed with modernization of the middle schools.  Many of our elementary schools have undergone the Phase I modernizations, and we believe that is one of the factors attracting families to the public schools.  All children in our city deserve to be educated in buildings that provide safe environments that promote learning.  At the middle school level, it is important to ensure access to modern technologies, including internet access, and to have functioning science labs and inviting libraries.  Two of the middle schools in Ward 6 have not received Phase 1 modernizations, Jefferson and Stuart Hobson Middle Schools.  Addressing the facility issues will be a key factor in strengthening the middle schools across the city.


We strongly believe DCPS has the capacity to operate outstanding schools, and to operate schools that offer a wide variety of options to meet the educational needs of the students in our city.  We believe DCPS and the City Council should focus its efforts on support for our neighborhood public schools.  We believe the public charter schools decrease our student population, and detract from efforts to improve educational opportunities within our neighborhood public schools.  We believe strong principals who provide continuity from year to year are vitally important.  We believe exceptional teachers who are trained in their subject area are vital to strong middle schools.  Our experience has shown that families and communities will support their neighborhood public schools in partnership with DCPS.  We know that a strong and vibrant public education system is vital to our city and our nation, and that our public schools provide our children with the pathway to opportunity and a better life.  Too much is at stake for our city not to succeed in revitalizing our middle schools.

CHPSPO Meeting on Tuesday, August 30

The Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization will meet on Tuesday, August 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the new Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan School at 215 G Street, NE.

We’ve got a full agenda for the meeting. We will be discussing the Public Roundtable that Chairman Kwame Brown is hold on Middle Schools on September 7, plans for Walk to School Day, approving the by-laws for CHPSPO and more.

Finally, attached is a list of the current Principals, PTA Presidents, and CHPSPO representatives for the each school. Please let me know if there are any additions and/or corrections.

See you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

Bylaws July 25 draft.docx

083011 agenda CHPSPO.doc

CHPSPO School Year 2011 2012 Representatives.docx

Public Roundtable Middle Grades 090711.doc

DC Parent Power Organizing Meeting.docx

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – July 19, 2011

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

Miner Elementary School
601 15
th St., NE
July 19, 2011
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

New PTA/PTSO Presidents Introductions:
New Presidents from Ludlow-Taylor (Anthony Allard), Tyler (Liz Weeden), Payne (Janice Brown) attended and were introduced.

Race to Nowhere Screening
: We have volunteers to coordinate this. Brainstorm session included:

  • Possible Locations – Eastern, People’s Church, H St. Playhouse, Stuart-Hobson, Jefferson, Brent, Eliot-Hine
  • Dates: ACTION: Schools, please share your calendars to coordinate dates. 
  • Cost/Childcare: Tickets will be $10.

Eliot-Hine Principal Selection:
Quick discussion around the status of this. At the time of the meeting, the principal had been hired, but not announced. The Eliot-Hine principal hiring process did not include feeder school input. Since the meeting, DCPS announced Principal Tynika Young was selected. She held a feeder school meet and greet even on July 28.

Lisa Raymond meeting re: Ward 6 middle schools
: Joe Weedon, Maury parent arranged for a meeting with Lisa Raymond (held on July 22). 

CHPSPO By-lawsDiscussion – discussion and updates will be reflected in the next version of the bylaws.

Next CHPSPO Meeting: August 30, 2011 (NOTE: this will be the last Tuesday)

Ward 6 State of the Schools – May 14 @ Eastern HS

Ward 6 State of the Schools

Saturday, May 14, from 10:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.
Eastern High School, 1700 East Capitol Street, NE

Join Councilmember Tommy Wells and Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson

The work of improving our schools is too hard for anyone to do alone.
Everyonehas a role to play in this effort!

You will have the opportunity to:
-Learn more about Ward 6 DCPS schools
-Interact with Ward 6 school leadership
-Meet fellow parents and community members
-Share your ideas about how to improve Ward 6 DCPS schools

Read the Agenda for more details.

Refreshments will be served & childcare will be provided

Questions? Contact

Discussion with Mayor Vincent Gray on Ward 6 Education Issues

Mayor Vincent Gray joined the CHPSPO community and others in an informal discussion on Ward 6 education issues. Adam Clampitt kicked off the event, introducing the Mayor and Suzanne Wells. CHPSPO’s Suzanne Wells briefed the Mayor and participants on CHPSPO’s role in the Ward 6 Middle School plan.  Mayor Gray delivered remarks and shared education plans including expanding the measure of excellence beyond standardized testing, offering education to infants and toddlers, providing in-school special education resources, and commitment to education facilities improvements. Deputy Mayor of Education, De’Shawn A. Wright and Acting State Superintendent, Hosana Mahaley Johnson also addressed the group.

The discussion then turned to Q&A, with questions and requests for support around:

  • communicating and spreading the word about the good things that are happening within DC Public Schools
  • the implementation of the Ward 6 middle school plan
  • concerns about the adequacy of facility improvements for schools receiving phased renovations instead of full school renovations
  • holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools regarding provision of services to children with special needs
  • support for the reconstitution and strengthening of Amidon-Bowen elementary school
  • rigor around education through middle school
  • a solution to save the Capitol Hill Classic
  • a request to revisit the no distance preference policy around Logan
  • setting a tone around culture for middle schools (specifically, Jefferson)

The event and discussion will be televised via the DC Office of Cable Television.

Thank you to Mayor Gray for spending the time with our community and to participants for contributing to the discussion and advocating for our schools.