CAPITOL HILL CLUSTER SCHOOL
Where Every Child Achieves
A unique DC Public School for students from age three through eighth grade, the Capitol Hill Cluster School educates more than 1,100 students across three campuses in the heart of DC’s Capitol Hill.
Peabody Primary Campus nurtures our youngest learners in preschool, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten in a teacher-led, arts integrated program. Location: 425 C St. NE.
Watkins Elementary provides students in first through fifth grade with a strong academic foundation and love of learning to carry them through their school years. Diverse “specials” classes ranging from art and music to computers and FoodPrints offer students a well-rounded, enriching curriculum. Location: 420 12th St. SE.
Stuart-Hobson Middle School prepares students in sixth through eighth grade to succeed in the city’s top high schools and beyond with rigorous courses, engaging activities, and a caring environment in which students can grow into independent thinkers and responsible young adults. Location: 410 E St. NE.
Award Winning, Highly Effective Teaching
The Cluster’s highly qualified teachers are committed to our children and our school. Many have been recognized for their outstanding classroom skills, including Rubenstein Highly Effective Teacher and Teacher of the Year as well as national Presidential Excellence in Teaching award winners. Seven Cluster teachers have undergone the rigorous process to become National Board Certified Teachers, a prestigious title held by only 3 percent of teachers nationwide.
A Focus on How, Not Just What, Children Learn
The Cluster employs Responsive Classroom at the primary and elementary levels – a research-based approach to education that encourages cooperation, empathy, responsibility, self-control, and collaborative problem-solving. At the secondary level, teachers and staff implement Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) – a framework for implementing evidence-based practices for social-emotional growth and learning. Children at all levels help create classroom rules and discuss logical consequences; teachers use positive language and model expected behaviors; and everyone works together to resolve problems.
Living Classrooms, Innovative Programs
With one of the most active school garden programs in the city, the Cluster has pioneered innovative curriculum to use garden activities to teach concepts in science, math, social studies, physical education, art and writing. All three campuses feature award-winning school gardens with native plant habitat areas and outdoor classroom spaces. Supported by a dedicated corps of teachers, parents and community volunteers, the garden programs have developed numerous partnerships with DC-area nutrition and environmental education organizations.
Integrated Arts Education and Hands-On Experiences
Hands-on learning is an important part of what makes the Cluster special. Arts Integration infuses art into lessons to engage students in learning. From story-tellers to potters, dancers to costume designers, a wide range of artists work directly with children. Students attend performances and exhibits outside of the school to foster their understanding and appreciation of the visual and performing arts. Teachers regularly take advantage of the rich artistic, historical, and cultural setting of our nation’s capital to reinforce classroom lessons. One example: our annual tradition of reciting Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Parents and Community Making a Difference
With one of the most active PTAs in the city, parent involvement plays an important role in the day to day life of the Cluster. CHCS parents, teachers, and community members work together to raise more than $100,000 every year. Each campus has an inviting library space, renovated through the efforts of the Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization and Capitol Hill Community Foundation, staffed with full-time librarians. Cluster PTA funds support enriching field trips, world-class professional development opportunities, award-winning school gardens, student athletic programs, playground amenities, and specialized arts instruction. Countless volunteer hours make a difference for students – and show families’ commitment to our school.
About Capitol Hill Cluster School
The Cluster School got its start in the 1970s when our founding principal, Ms. Veola M. Jackson, worked with parents and the community to initiate a series of changes at several Capitol Hill schools to break down historic barriers and create a community-centered school that would serve students from the early childhood years through early adolescence. The school was officially chartered in 1986. Today, the Cluster School – Peabody, Watkins, and Stuart-Hobson – is a strong and diverse PK3-8th grade learning environment where students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.
CHCS Principal Dawn Clemens works with a team of Assistant Principals assigned to each campus to maintain high academic standards and provide stable, consistent leadership across the Cluster:
Assistant Principals Katie Franklin and Tonya Harris lead Stuart Hobson Middle School.
Assistant Principals Suriya Douglas-Williams and Jennifer McCormick lead Watkins Elementary School.
Assistant Principal Melissa Smith leads the Peabody Primary Campus.