• Principal Berkowitz

Making Rainbows Together!

Some information will go up front this week: Given the uncertainty of staffing, I’m not confident that we will be able to return to in-person learning on November 9th.  As of now, we will move forward with the schedule published for next week (Nov 2 - 6).  Term 2 will begin in an all-virtual model on November 9 unless we receive further direction from central office.  Here are some other consequences of this new information:

  • I am confident that we can open schools safely following the DCPS and DC Health COVID Guidelines. Our WTU, LSAT, and PTA building walkthrough was scheduled earlier today for Wednesday next week. Our facility is ready.

  • Class rosters will remain in place until further notice.

  • We are pausing the in-person student selection process until a more concrete timeline is available.

  • Our Term 2 Virtual Schedule changes will go into effect for all students and teachers on Nov 9.

  • When we have a new reopening date, we will need to make space and time for professional learning and classroom set-up.  We’ll address that when the time comes.  I made the decision to not involve all teachers in the in-person learning next week so it will have to be rescheduled.

The above happened this morning. I wrote the below last night, which I’m proud of and despite the above, I think is still relevant.  Here is my weekly message.

We all deserve more certainty in our lives right now.  From the anticipated changes for our 2nd term of the school year, to the direction of our country for the next four years, there is so much that means so much on our minds and hearts.  As your principal, I wish I could provide more details, more specifics, and more certainty regarding the school term, but sadly I have already shared everything that I know about the plans to reopen.  There are a few updates below, but major details like staffing and student roster changes remain unknown. And yet, I’m more confident about the future of our community and this week’s message is all about why.

Our community is committed to a more just, fair, and hopeful future for our students and ourselves. The uncertainty we’re experiencing is so difficult because it’s in opposition to our commitment.   And yet, there are different opinions about school reopening that exist within our teaching staff, our parents, and possibly our students.  I warned staff recently that we cannot let these differences divide us.  We bear witness to enough divisiveness in our country.  We must rely on the relationships and trust we’ve built in order to maintain and build on our sense of community.  We don’t all agree on how exactly we maintain our commitment to equity, but we must have a conversation about what we believe.  And these conversations that are happening with parents and staff are what give me hope that amid the turmoil, we are making progress on our greater purpose.

Despite the distractions, we have focused on bringing about an even more equitable experience for everyone in the community. We took a few big steps this week.  

Our staff convened for our month Equity sessions.  Nine courageous and vulnerable staff members – Mr. Denton, Ms. Langhorne, Ms. Brooks, Ms. Bloom, Ms. Taylor, Ms. McPherson, Ms. C. Williams, Ms. Hollis, and Mr. Boisvert - led small group discussions around oppression, culture, marginalization, privilege, equity, psychological safety, and identity to develop our shared vocabulary.  After about 35 minutes of discussion, staff (not just teachers – school leaders, para professionals, office staff, and custodians) survey responses included:

  • Teaching is a profession in which we can actively work against oppression.

  • We need to do this work and grow, share, support, and support the future.

  • I felt safe in my breakout group to share my feelings and thoughts.

  • This discussion work is SO important and SO effective. We had group members who admitted to gaining huge insights and understandings during our discussion. We had full participation and excellent and respectful conversation.

  • "The conversation is the work." The main take-away is that the dialogues are extremely valuable.

  • Understanding that marginalization occurs everywhere. Even in the schools with younger children. Also understanding that it is not always done intentionally.

  • Equity work needs to be at the forefront of all our work as a school.

What amazing perseverance!  Commitment to equity!  Each of these conversations grows our ability to empathize for our colleagues’ experience and world view.  That makes us even stronger.  On Wednesday I felt and still do feel incredibly proud of the effort, focus, and leadership on our staff.  It brings me such a sense of joy. Last month 50 staff responded to the survey, this month it was 57 people.  88% of staff reported that they “feel safe enough to speak my truth” vs 76% last month, so that’s yet another reason to celebrate. We also finalized our Kindred group at the staff level!  Again, despite all the swirl, our staff is showing up and showing us all their commitment to the most important work.

Our parents are also leading.  Over 30 parents gave their time to participate in the talk given on Tuesday night by Amanda Lewis, the author of “Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools.” Our parent Kindred dialogue group is nearly finalized after having more than enough parents express interest.

I am embracing the lessons I learned last week (I told you this book moved me!) from The Last Stop on Market Street and choosing to look at the big picture and see the rainbows, just like Nana teaches CJ.  You may see a lot of dirt right now, but the rainbows are there. We are making rainbows together.


Term 2 Updates

A Look Forward: Upcoming Dates

  • Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day- No school for students

  • Friday, Nov. 6: 1/2 PD Day, 1/2 Records day for staff- No school for students

  • Monday, Nov. 9: Term 2 Begins

  • Wednesday, Nov. 11: Veteran's Day- No school for students

Community Questions and Answers: Please continue to submit questions using this form.

Overall updates can be found on this part of our website. You can keep up to date on the great progress of our Operations Team on our Instagram page. Shout out to our amazing Custodial Teams who are working so hard to prepare our building.



Log Into Canvas Daily, Including Wednesday

Families should log into Canvas every day, including Wednesday to be marked present. It is very important to note that although live instruction does not take place on Wednesday, students still need to log-in. Daily log-in should take place between 6am and 11:59pm. If you miss a day or something prevents you from logging on, email our attendance team.



Submitting excuse notes: During virtual learning, all excuses notes should be emailed to our attendance teams. All DCPS legal excuse reasons remain the same as last school year.



Immunizations and Required Health Forms

All students must be up to date on their immunizations before returning to in person learning. Follow these three steps to guarantee that your child is ready and see the below flier for more information:

  • Schedule your child's annual wellness visit

  • Make sure your child has received all of their immunizations

  • Submit immunization documents to your child's enrollment/ attendance team


Community Messages

Click on the following to link to our website pages for updates on the following community groups:

Parent Teacher Association

Race, Class, and Equity Group

Local School Advisory Team (LSAT): Visit to learn more about the emergency LSAT meeting on Monday, November 2nd at 6pm

Cluster Calendar

Cluster Virtual Book Fair with East City Bookshop

From Oct 26th through November 1, Cluster families, friends and staff can purchase books and merchandise online, via email, over the phone in the store during business hours and the Cluster will receive 20% of the proceeds. Links to order will be coming soon and sent.

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